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

"Cordoba" IFS system

Overview
Using a cross-member kit available only from Gibbons (a division of the fiberglass folks), for approx. $575.00USD (as of 10/2003) you can adapt the longitudinal torsion bar IFS from the " Cordoba" to 48 – 56 Ford trucks. The unique factor related to the " Cordoba" set up is that it is almost entirely a bolt in installation. One minor bit of welding is required: welding the sockets into the rear cross-member.

Donors-

75-79 Chrysler Cordoba
73-74 Plymouth Belvedere, GTX, Road Runner, Satellite, Fury
73-78 Dodge Charger, Superbee

Characteristics

  • With a smooth ride comes reasonable handling, similar to a mid-sized car.
  • Depending upon where you live, the donor vehicle can be easily and cheaply had.
  • The cross-member kit from Gibbons is well made and easy to install. Almost no welding and very little grinding or drilling is needed to install the Gibbons kit. Following the excellent instructions provided makes it difficult to botch the installation.
  • It gives you 12" disc brakes (11.75 inches actually).
  • It offers a somewhat adjustable ride height and suspension firmness within a reasonable range.
  • Donor car’s weight is similar to an F-100.
  • No known safety issues reported.
  • Power steering is standard and can be used with either the Mopar and possibly the Ford power steering pump as well.
  • Gives you a light, professional looking set up.
  • Not a permanent mod, the frame must only be modified in a very minor way. You could conceivably go back to stock afterwards with little evidence of the Cordoba set up ever having been there.

Important considerations

  • If you live in the rust belt the donors may be difficult and expensive to find.
  • Total cost to install, including rebuilding the donor components, can run from $1200 to a high of $2000, based upon difficulty of finding a donor, and component’s condition. If you spend 2K then you must have used the most worn out donor on the face of the earth or paid somebody to install the set up.
  • There may be interference issues with the steering box if installing a big block. (Check first)
  • Drop spindles required to slam it properly are expensive… in the $450 range..

Average installation time – excluding stripping donor or stripping original straight axle assembly: within one weekend easily

Installation Overview

The following components must be removed from the donor vehicle –

  • Upper and lower A-arms
  • Spindles, Rotors and calipers
  • Steering box (power steering box or a suitable alternative)
  • Strut rods
  • Torsion bars and rear sockets that hold the aft end ends of both bars
  • Center Link, pitman and idler arms, tie rods
  • Anti-sway bars and links
  • (FYI – the Gibbons instructions even show you what all these parts look like)

We’re not going to give you enough info to enable you to actually install the set up, Gibbons instructions do an excellent job of that. We will just summarize important points that will help you to understand the key aspects of the installation. –

Remove the front suspension and steering components from your project vehicle. If your truck has two "front" cross members (i.e. the most forward one has the radiator support and the second one has the stock engine mount), then remove the second one. Also remove the stock transmission cross member. Be very careful when removing these cross members not to enlarge or damage the stock rivet holes. You will be mounting the Gibbons cross members using these holes and the bolts are sized for their stock sizes.

The four pieces supplied in the Gibbons kit must be mounted to your frame. Two brackets for strut rods are attached using the rivet holes from the original "2nd" front cross member, the main cross member to which all your donor components are attached and the rear cross member into which the rearward ends of the torsion bars will attach. Prior to mounting these pieces, you need to slightly relieve the upper and lower horizontal portions of your stock frame to enable sufficient clearance for attaching the Mopar steering box. You need to weld the torsion bar sockets from the donor car into the rear cross member that Gibbons supplies. This must be done with the front cross member and the torsion bars in place, as you need to ensure the sockets are cocked to the correct angles to hold the torsion bars without binding.

Difficulty of installation level – 2+.

Notes

For F-1s only -You need to shorten the center link (cut a piece out of the center and weld it back together).
This is not necessary for later models. ("center link" = the piece in the center that ties the tie rods on each side together)

You should try to keep the original transmission cross member in place or replace it with something similar to prevent frame twisting by keeping the frame rails parallel. Boxing the frame from right behind the new front cross member and the rear cross member may achieve the same purpose.

Like the No Limit Engineering "Volare" motor mounts, the Gibbons design motor mounts leave a lot to be desired from an esthetic point of view. Design your own, but your design needs to incorporate all three planes of the frame rails to minimize frame twisting under sudden load.

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