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

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Ford Motor Company (FOMOCO) IFS

Here we explore installing the front frame section from a Ford Motor Company (FMC) mid to full-size passenger car built between 1965-1991. Some likely mid-size donors include the 1967-71, 1977-79 Thunderbird or Mercury Cougar. The 1972-77 Torino is also used which later became the Elite. The 1980-91 Full-size Ford, Lincoln, and Mercury 2 or 4 door Sedan (Crown Vic, Grand Marquis, Lincoln Towncar) all share the same suspensions and make excellent donors. The Ford vehicles are available in both front and rear steer. The rear steer units (’65-79 Galaxie 500, LTD’s, Mark IIs, and Grand Marquis) had the steering box behind the cross member and because they were factory options the rear steer is better when running a Big Block engine. The 1980 model and later had the steering box out front it allows for the installation of Small Blocks and the 4.6L engines. Attempting to put a 4.6L in a rear steer one would cause interference with the steering box due to width of the 4.6L and motor mount location. Both front and rear steer versions offer the performance options that were used in law enforcement vehicles. Those models typically had bigger front sway bars, which helps handling. Vast production numbers for these cars from 1965-91 makes the pool of potential donors large and varied.

Characteristics of the FOMOCO full size IFS clip 

  • Exceptional handling and great ride when installed correctly.
  • It’s pure Ford!
  • Ford donors can be high performance cars (Torino, Cougar XR7, or Police units with HO motors that are often heavier than an F-100).
  • Power steering and 11 inch disk brakes on donor candidates.
  • Motor mounts included if you run a Ford drive train, good clearance for steering shaft and exhaust.
  • Truck ride height will be good but not to low as to cause vehicle damage during normal daily driving.
  • Relatively inexpensive when compared to some of the other IFS alternatives.
  • Using Ford steering column, all linkage is OEM and compatible among the brands: Ford, Lincoln, and Mercury
  • A complete donor car offers an 8" or 9" rear end in most cases that can be used with relative ease to go along with the Ford drive train.

Important considerations

  • Installer must be highly skilled for a safe installation. You need to be an excellent welder as considerable bracing and gusseting is necessary.
  • You have to cut your frame in half
  • Very time consuming to maintain a professional look.
  • It takes a lot of patience and measuring to get it square and you can easily ruin a perfectly good truck frame if you don’t.
  • More of the suspension shows when looking through the wheel well.

Average installation time – The total time required to complete the removal of the old front end and installation of the ’87 Crown Vic IFS clip on a forum members ’55 F-100 was about 80 hours.

  • Remove stock sheet metal
  • Remove stock suspension, establish standard reference measuring points front to back side to side, and diagonally. Measure and mock up to stock chassis.
  • Prior to cutting, engage in deep thought as to where the original frame will be cut. This cut is important and will have great bearing on your future safety, and your satisfaction with the install in the area of ride, engine and sheet metal replacement, along with where the wheels end up in the fender. You should research the correct methods for a safe graft prior to cutting. Measure carefully 10 times! Have a trusted friend measure again. Cut once.
  • The Front Steer 80-91 Crown Vic, Grand Marquis, Lincoln Town car front ends are to wide for an F-1 they go straight out and will interfere with remounting sheetmetal. The 65-68 FOMOCO Fullsize passenger front end is more ideally suited to the F-1. One could use Mid 70’s Midsize FOMOCO passenger vehicles spindles and replace stock drum brakes that were on the 65-68 cars.
  • Complete all welding and then double check that all welds were good.
  • Dismantle the donor front suspension, install all new bushings on control arms and sway bar, replace other steering and brake parts as required.
  • The time quote includes making the re-attachment point of radiator support and frame horns for bumper bracket and plumbing the brakes. Also, steering shaft "U" Joints, transmission mount, if running a Ford engine, and using a Ford Steering Column must be considered.

Tools required– Acetylene torch and an ARC or quality MIG welder.

Skill level required – 4
Ride Height – A drop of 3" to 5" is usual.

Cost– Cost with all new parts, i.e., rotors, calipers, bearings, seals, brake hoses, lines, lug nuts, power steering hoses, ball joints, tie rods, drag link, shocks, springs, control arm bushings, sway bar bushings, motor mount pads, bump stops, spring pads, steel, ’86 Ford Van Tilt Column, welding supplies, paint and primer, ’87 Crown Vic subframe and installation of the subframe was about $1200.

Special notes – You should fully understand this installation is not for the faint of heart. You are cutting the front half of two frames completely off the vehicles and aligning and welding one back on. Done correctly, you will have a very nice driving truck. The donor components are strong and safe. Incorrect installation can result in catastrophic suspension failure. It needs to be straight and strong. In the opinion of the majority, it’s not an appropriate project for a rookie rodder.

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