Front Suspension Alternatives for 1948 – 1960 Ford Trucks, Part Nine

"Vette" alternative

Overview-
This overview examines the use of C4 (’84-’87) and C5 (’88-’95) Corvette suspension components on an
F-1/F-100 truck. At this point, there is no personal experience on the FTE forum with this installation so this section is based on various articles in Classic Truck, Custom Classic truck and other magazine articles.

This alternative follows the path of the MII alternative in that variations exist, from adapting a front clip from any of the above donors with appropriate fabrication, through to the purchase of a complete hub-to-hub kit with instructions. This is then installed with all the required cutting and welding to the truck frame.

These donors used a transverse leaf spring. All of the kits provide a method of replacing this spring with coil-overs.

The use of the ‘Vette components drops the spindle 2" above the bottom of the frame and this requires notching the frame or creating a through hole in the frame in front of the crossmember to clear the tie rod ends.

An article in the F-100 Special Edition summer 1997 of Ford Truckin’ and another in the August ’94 Classic Truck, details the install of a Werks Performance kit which consists of various gusseting and boxing plates and the upper and lower mounts for the coil-overs. The user must locate the front end components including the crossmember, rack and pinion unit, upper and lower a-arms, spindle and braking components. A good fabricator could adapt the components of a clip without this kit but would not have the benefit of instructions to accurately locate the crossmember centerline.

An article in the January ’98 Classic Truck details a kit from Progressive Automotive (PA) that is based on a fabricated crossmember. Their website lists prices for the crossmember kits for 48-’52 F-1′s and ’53-’56 F-100′s at approximately $750 US. These kits include the crossmember that has the upper and lower a-arm mounts, as well as mounts for coil-overs and mounts for an ’89-’95 T-bird/Cougar rack and pinion. Full hub-to-hub kits are approximately $2500 US and add in the coil-overs, used ‘Vette components, c-notches for rack tie rod clearance and a remanufactured rack and pinion. The crossmember is a boxed section with gusseted stanchions for the lower a-arm similar to the MII crossmember. PA offers sway bar and air bag upgrades as well

An article in the February ’03 Classic Truck details a kit from Flat-out Engineering installed in a ’56 by Bobco. This kit has a fabricated crossmember similar to the PA kit, upper and lower coil-over mounts and is intended to use the ‘Vette rack and pinion. The article indicates that kits are available for ’41 to ’64 ford trucks.

Characteristics-

  • Exceptional handling and respectable ride
  • Very good brakes. The C4′s had 11" rotors, the C5′s had 12 � or 12 �" rotors
  • A large aftermarket support for brake and bushing upgrades
  • Typical donor cars are similar weight if not heavier than an F-100
  • The use of coil-overs provides ease of ride height adjustability. A simple turn of the spring/shock nut and you can change the ride height 4-5 inches although suspension geometry may be impaired if you stray very far from the optimum placement as is the case on any suspension lowering.
  • The use of coil-overs allows some choice in spring rates and shock tuning adjustment is usually included so ride and handling can be firmed up or made cushier as desired.
  • Your truck will be slammed with no expensive drop spindles to buy.
  • If the donor crossmember is used, it provides a substantial wide base for the wide a-arms to transmit the twisting forces of braking and curb/pothole impact to the crossmember and frame.
  • The hub-to-hub kits are priced very similarly to the full tubular a-arm polished MII hub-to-hub kits or the Dakota hub to hub kit.
  • The forged aluminium upper and lower arms and spindles have a high show quality especially if polished
  • Provides a very pretty companion for the Vette IRS for the ultimate in handling and show
  • The kits and magazine articles clearly detail the optimum placement of the crossmember
  • Front mount rack and pinion steering provides relatively easy steering connection to the truck column and reasonable clearance to headers.

Important considerations

  • Donors are not as plentiful and may be very scarce in some parts of the country.
  • Replacement parts may be more expensive although they should remain plentiful due to the very strong following for the donors.
  • The donor is a performance car so the ride will not be cushy. This is especially true if the bushings are upgraded to the urethane bushings. But this is the case as well for the tubular upper and lower arms in the MII kits or a urethane upgrade for any of the other alternatives.
  • At desired suspension geometry, these kits slam the front end so curbs and steeper inclines become an issue.
  • The fabricated crossmembers may have the same concerns as the MII crossmembers in terms of ability to transmit the twisting loads of the a-arms, due to braking and pothole/curb impact, into the crossmember.
  • No experience on the forum to provide assistance in the install.

Installation time and skill level required for the crossmember kits would be similar to that required for an MII crossmember kit. If the donor crossmember kit is used, some additional time would be required to modify the crossmember for install. If you are going it on your own without a kit, this install would be similar to an Aerostar install except for the additional work to fabricate the mounts for the coil-overs unless you can use the original transverse leaf spring.

Level of difficulty – 3 to 3+

Installation Time – ?? (Likely comparable to an MII)

Ride Height – 3" to 5" drop versus stock

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