Front Suspension Alternatives for 1948 – 1960 Ford Trucks, Part Eleven
Overview of the GM Corvair and Jaguar setups
Here we look at various, less popular set ups . We are not aware of any users of any of these set ups so information was hard to come by. One of the writers of this opus did a Corvair install in a 46 Dodge pickup a long time ago but we have no 1st hand experience with the Jaguar set ups.
Corvair This was considered the common man s hot set up in the 70 s, particularly for cars from the late 30 s and the 40 s. Donor cars were relatively easy to find in wrecking yards and in the classifieds. The entire front suspension assembly easily unbolted from the donor (think Volare). The engineering required to adapt the Pinto/MII rack and pinion steering was simple. Repair parts were easy to get and relatively cheap. However that was a long time ago and Corvairs haven t been built for almost 40 years now. Additionally, they have become somewhat collectible in their own right. The most important point for owners of F-1/F-100s to understand though this unit is too light for a truck. It isn t beefy enough for a 48 60 full sized truck. They re too narrow for an F-100 as well. They re too hard to find now and you ll be looking for 40-year-old rebuild parts. Leave the donors alone for those poor, twisted buggers who are restoring Corvairs. There is no obvious benefit for you to go this route rather than one of the more popular alternatives already covered. They wouldn t be any cheaper than at least one of the alternatives we ve covered.
Jaguar In the 70 s this was the hot set up. Nobody really made kits to install any IFS suspension in street rods, so you were on your own. XKE front suspension was adapted by fabricating attachments to the frame for the XKE A-arms and spindles. The A-arms were very sexy looking – similar to the Corvette pieces used today. You don t really hear too much about people using it today though. There is a bit of use of the later Jag sedan IFS in which the K-member style assembly is adapted to your vehicle in much the same manner as the Volare unit is. However, this unit doesn t have the sexiness of the earlier XKE components. The Jag sedans of the 70 s and 80 s are really not very collectible , so donor vehicles (especially in the northern climates) should be relatively cheap. However, replacement parts will not be. As Ford now owns Jaguar, you can tell yourself that you re staying pure. As mentioned, there is not a lot of Jag being done, so you re largely on your own with this one.
If you re a somewhat inexperienced rodder, be prepared to tackle any of these alternatives on your own. You will have difficulty finding anyone nearby or on the web who can help you. You ll be on your own trying to figure out steering geometry, etc.
I would suggest that the benefits found in the range of alternatives covered earlier some pretty, some not, some cheap, some not would easily outweigh any reasons you might have for considering one of these last two alternatives.
We have tried to present the full range (common and not so common) of F-1/F-100 front suspension alternatives in use today. We have tried to present the data in as unbiased a manner as possible. Admittedly, most of the contributors to this article are rodders (or darksiders as restorers refer to us as), so if you feel we were less than completely successful in that regard, you know why.
There were five or six people who devoted most of the effort required to put this article together, but it was based upon the information and experience provided by many in this forum. All but two of the alternatives discussed were documented and based upon first hand experiences of the members of this forum. Without these members contributions, this article would not be possible. Thank you.
For the newcomers to this forum, this article is simply meant as an overview to help you decide whether to rebuild your stock suspension or go with one of the IFS alternatives and to provide insight into the characteristics of each. You will find more detail and discussion on each alternative in separate threads on this forum. These separate threads tend to have titles starting with the words Pro s and Con s of and are generally dated 9/30/03. We encourage you to read these detailed threads and then ask any additional questions you might have on the end of the thread in which you are most interested.
Each alternative has it s strong points and weak points depending upon your individual situation, so you can t ask What is the best set up? and expect to get less than 10 different answers. You need to understand your situation your mechanical abilities, your budget, your free time, your intended drive train and several other factors to decide which alternative is best for you. We re simply trying to give you enough insight in to the various alternatives to help you make an informed decision that is right for you.