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

Volare

Overview
This alternative involves unbolting the front suspension assembly from the appropriate donor vehicle and welding it into the F-1/F-100 truck. It is a frame graft but the stock frame is only notched along the bottom and the Volare K-member is grafted to it, rather than a full frame cut at the firewall. The Volare IFS swap is an "Old School" IFS method. It has been popular for over twenty years. It offers ride height adjustability and relatively easy installation at an attractive price for the rodder on a budget.

Donors include –

F-body – 1976 – 1980 Volare, Aspen, Roadrunner R/T
J-body – 1980 – 1983 Cordoba, Mirada, Imperial
M-body – generally 1977 – 1989, see below
Caravelle (Canadian Plymouth model) 1977-1981
Lebaron 1977 – 1981
New Yorker 1982
New Yorker 5th Ave 1983 – 1987
5th Ave. 1988 – 1989
Diplomat 1977 – 1989
Town & Country – 1977 – 1981
Gran Fury 1982 – 1989

The Cordoba donor listed above is NOT the same style of IFS as is discussed in the "Gibbon’s Cordoba overview". In this alternative the torsion bars run in a 90 degree angle (transversely) rather than front to back or longitudinally as in the "Gibbon’s Cordoba" set up.

Characteristics

  • Low cost – wide range of models and years of suitable donors.
  • Exceptional ride and respectable handling for a truck, very similar to a mid-sized car.
  • Adjustable ride height within a reasonable range,3-5 inches is typical. Spindle can sit level with frame bottom without using drop spindles.
  • Moderately difficult to install safely, but the easiest of the frame graft style IFS options.
  • Donor cars weight is similar to an F-100
  • Excellent safety record.
  • 10 7/8" power disk brakes standard, easy upgrade to 11 �" rotors with older Cordoba wrecking yard parts.
  • Easy removal of donor suspension. Involves cutting brake lines, disconnecting steering (one bolt),
  • disconnecting the four large bolts holding in the K-member and removing the driver’s side upper A-arm.
  • "Volare" track width is almost perfect for ’53 and later pickups.
  • Wheel bolt pattern is 5 X 4 &1/2 which is same as many later Fords, (however the hub diameter is larger than Ford so aftermarket or Mopar style wheels are required to have interchangeability between all four.)
  • There is a very good video available commercially from No Limit Engineering that thoroughly illustrates the installation procedure. We highly recommend the video be viewed. Additionally, templates are also available.
  • Lots of help from others is available. Many shops do this work on an ongoing basis (i.e. Bob’s F100 and No Limit Engineering.) Many rodders have done it as well.
  • In addition to the 10.75" disc brakes, the "Volare" IFS also gives you power steering

Important considerations-

  • With a smooth ride comes mediocre handling. It doesn’t corner like a sports car. Most ride complaints can be attributed to inadequate pre-load adjustment of the torsion bars for a low budget "slammed" look.
  • This is a permanent modification, as the frame must be notched. It could be changed to a Camaro, LTD IFS, but little else. Considerable effort would be required to return it to stock.
  • Not a Ford suspension. Torsion bars do not have the Ford look to them.
  • Good fabrication and welding skills are necessary for a neat installation. Most do not consider the "Volare" a "Show Suspension" like the Mustang II and Corvette.
  • Big block engines can be installed, but clearance issues with PS box make it a tight fit.
  • While the "Volare" IFS gives you the same 5" X 4 �" 5 bolt pattern that is common to many later Ford rear axles, the larger diameter Mopar hub may force you to use aftermarket rims. Re-drilling "Volare" rotors to stock 5X 5�"pattern is probably not possible.
  • "Volare" width is a bit wide for the ’48-’52 F-1 frame. It has been done many times but does have some fitment issues.
  • A PS cooler or pressure limiting device may be advisable for some PS pumps due to potential issues in mixing non-Mopar pumps of higher pressure output with the Mopar steering box.
  • Expensive drop spindles are required to slam it properly, run about $450 pair. Simply dropping the torsion bar pre-load adjustment will result in a very soft ride and poor handling. This needs to be clearly understood if you want the "slammed" look but still want decent handling.

Installation Overview

The No-Limit Engineering video is highly recommended. It clearly outlines the installation of the Volare IFS. The procedure involves cutting a notch along the bottom of the stock frame. The donor cross member is grafted to the notched frame and welded. It is a "frame graft" but does not require a full frame cut at the firewall. The frame should be boxed after installation of K-member. This simplifies alignment of the new IFS. It is critical for good handling that the assembly be installed with a rearward tilt of to ensure proper anti-dive (positive caster) characteristics under braking. It’s not that difficult and is well illustrated in the video. Due to this tilt requirement bolt-in Volares are highly discouraged. The Volare clip is relatively easy to install safely, but a professional appearance will require some time for the needed welding and grinding.

Cost estimate – Assuming you don’t buy an entire donor car, a Volare IFS can and has been installed for under $500. If your donor clip is worn, you can expect to spend up to $1000 including a complete rebuild of the steering and brake parts. Purchasing a late 80′s, lower mileage donor may save you substantial money.

If you don’t mind the "Mopar" look all over your truck, you can save bags of money if you buy a donor car rather than just the K-member. This will give you a suitable master cylinder and vacuum booster, hanging brake pedal assembly, proportioning valve, tilt steering column and four wheels to sit your baby on during the coming years/months that it may remain unfinished.

Average installation time – A low of 25 hours to a high of 65 hours.

Special Tool Requirements – Quality MIG welder, acetylene torch, sawzall or 4�" angle grinder or plasma cutter

Difficulty level – 3
Ride Height – A drop of 3" to 5" versus stock (without dropped spindles) is achievable.

Comments ()