Street News

Suspended Sentence

lead

Old or new, the suspension of a car provides the basis of all the ride and handling of the vehicle. While tuning and nuances of suspensions systems has changed over the years, the overall designs have remained consistent. Over the years, Ford has used many different front suspension designs, but for the most popular platforms (Mustangs), the majority of years utilized the strut-tower system that uses an upper A-arm with a spring and shock, and a lower arm with a stabilizer rod. This began with the Falcon/Comet chassis, which became the Mustang platform in 1964.

Unlike the un-parallel A-arm configuration that places a spring between the frame and the lower A-arm, the strut design places the load of the car on the upper arm and the strut tower, which is in the center of the inner fender. The biggest problem with this design is that there is a lot of flex in the lower suspension assembly. The lower arm uses a single rubber mount which is not very stable. To remedy this, the factory used a stabilizer bar to locate the fore and aft movement. The rubber bushings didn’t last long which meant that the lower suspension became very compliant, which translates to an unstable car. If you have ever driven an early Mustang hard into a corner, then you know how scary it can be when the front suspension gives way: lots of understeer and body sway. The early cars are even worse. There are several updates available for all years that use this design in Mustang, but nothing for the earlier Falcon/Comet platform, until now.

Global West, a leader in performance suspension design, now offers a tubular suspension system for the early (1960-1963) Falcon/Comet that replaces the strut-rod design with a coil-over shock and lower A-arm assembly. The upper A-arm is a beefy tubular piece that no longer carries the load of the suspension. This reduces the spring weight (and force) placed on the upper 15-inches of the fender aprons, increasing the stability of the front suspension, and offering adjustability and tuning. Global West has been building similar kits for Mustangs, Torinos, and most other Ford cars as well. There are a few choices for shocks as well, we opted for the double adjustable QA-1 shocks that feature 576 potential compression and rebound combinations.

Suspension work is usually not fun, especially on early Mustangs, but this kit is quite simple. Most of the components bolt in place of the factory pieces, with the exception of the upper A-arms on the Negative Roll versions (which alters the factory geometry for better handling on the road course), where two holes must be drilled in the aprons on each side. We set out to install this new system on a 1962 Comet wagon which is being built as a road racer. Starting with a rolling chassis, this system was installed by two people in one day. A side benefit of this install was that the Comet was changed over to 5-lug disc brakes via a set of Granada spindles. You don’t have to add this part, but since you are already there, it is well worth the effort. Eventually, the Comet will get a set of Baer Extreme PLUS discs.

There are a couple of things we did not tackle in this article, the sway bar and the steering. You can’t use the factory sway bar with this kit; it interferes with the coil-over shocks. Since we converted to Granada spindles, the steering has to be converted to V-8 specs, which on the Comet requires the 1963-65 V8 Falcon centerlink (it’s the only one that works). This swap is exactly the same for the 1964 ½-66 Mustang and very similar to the ’67-73 model years, without the steering upgrades. The end result is a more stable adjustable suspension that can be fine tuned. All in a days work.

1. Out of the box, the Global West kit consists of just a few parts. Everything, except for the coil over shocks, comes pre-assembled.

1. Out of the box, the Global West kit consists of just a few parts. Everything, except for the coil over shocks, comes pre-assembled.

 

2. The project started with the Comet on the lift. You don’t have to have a lift for this job, but it is nice to have one. Make sure that the car is safely supported on jack stands before removing the wheels.

2. The project started with the Comet on the lift. You don’t have to have a lift for this job, but it is nice to have one. Make sure that the car is safely supported on jack stands before removing the wheels.

 

3. There are two ways to remove coil springs: use a spring compressor or cut them. On Mustangs, springs compressors are difficult to use because the spring is under a lot of tension and they are quite long, so it takes a lot of work to get the springs out. Since the springs are no longer being used, we cut them with a plasma torch. DO NOT remove or loosen the shock or suspension components before cutting the spring, which would create a dangerous situation. The shock body and shaft will keep the spring from coming out, and that is what you want. Use caution here. When done correctly, the spring tension is removed on the first cut, and then a second cut makes it easy to get out.

3. There are two ways to remove coil springs: use a spring compressor or cut them. On Mustangs, springs compressors are difficult to use because the spring is under a lot of tension and they are quite long, so it takes a lot of work to get the springs out. Since the springs are no longer being used, we cut them with a plasma torch. DO NOT remove or loosen the shock or suspension components before cutting the spring, which would create a dangerous situation. The shock body and shaft will keep the spring from coming out, and that is what you want. Use caution here. When done correctly, the spring tension is removed on the first cut, and then a second cut makes it easy to get out.

 

4. Next, we removed the sway bar, tie-rod ends, and brake lines from the suspension assembly.

4. Next, we removed the sway bar, tie-rod ends, and brake lines from the suspension assembly.

 

5. Using an impact wrench and a back-up on the other side, we loosened the lower control arm mount, but left the bolt in place.

5. Using an impact wrench and a back-up on the other side, we loosened the lower control arm mount, but left the bolt in place.

 

6. The front stabilizer rod mount can be a real bear to get loose. We sprayed every nut and bolt down with JB80 penetrant the night before to loosen things up. If you unbolt the stabilizer from the lower control arm, removing the large nut becomes impossible.

6. The front stabilizer rod mount can be a real bear to get loose. We sprayed every nut and bolt down with JB80 penetrant the night before to loosen things up. If you unbolt the stabilizer from the lower control arm, removing the large nut becomes impossible.

 

7. Moving up top, the upper shock mount was unbolted from the shock tower and the shock tower removed. We had to use a set of channel-locks on the shock shaft to keep it from spinning.

7. Moving up top, the upper shock mount was unbolted from the shock tower and the shock tower removed. We had to use a set of channel-locks on the shock shaft to keep it from spinning.

 

8. The upper control arm bolts through the shock towers. With the straight six in here you have lots of room, but having done this on a V8 mustang, we can tell you that these are very tight with a V8 and headers. A ratcheting GearWrench is best here.

8. The upper control arm bolts through the shock towers. With the straight six in here you have lots of room, but having done this on a V8 mustang, we can tell you that these are very tight with a V8 and headers. A ratcheting GearWrench is best here.

 

9. Once the upper arm and shock were removed, the suspension just falls out. This is all headed for the junk pile now; there is no need to separate any of these parts.

9. Once the upper arm and shock were removed, the suspension just falls out. This is all headed for the junk pile now; there is no need to separate any of these parts.

 

10. The factory installed these rust traps on the subframe. It has to come out. You will find 45 years of dirt under here.

10. The factory installed these rust traps on the subframe. It has to come out. You will find 45 years of dirt under here.

 

11. Using the supplied drill guide and a pair of 1\2” bolts, the new upper A-arm bolt holes were marked below the originals. You must be very precise on punching the center points, as the new holes must be aligned just right. These get drilled to 9/16”.

11. Using the supplied drill guide and a pair of 1\2” bolts, the new upper A-arm bolt holes were marked below the originals. You must be very precise on punching the center points, as the new holes must be aligned just right. These get drilled to 9/16”.

 

12. The upper arm was installed in place with a spacer (supplied) between the apron and the control arm. Then we tightened down the nuts on the backside. You don’t have to torque them yet; the car will have to be aligned before driving it.

12. The upper arm was installed in place with a spacer (supplied) between the apron and the control arm. Then we tightened down the nuts on the backside. You don’t have to torque them yet; the car will have to be aligned before driving it.

 

13. The stabilizer rod mount hole required some cleanup on our Comet. Using a fine-tooth carbide burr, we removed the high spots so the centering bushing would fit.

13. The stabilizer rod mount hole required some cleanup on our Comet. Using a fine-tooth carbide burr, we removed the high spots so the centering bushing would fit.

 

14. We tapped the bushing in place with a soft hammer. Sometimes this fits nice and easy without any work.

14. We tapped the bushing in place with a soft hammer. Sometimes this fits nice and easy without any work.

 

15. The actual A-arm mount however was a really tight fit. We had to clearance the powder coating from the mount and still needed to tap it with a hammer (more than gentle force was applied). In the end, we used the impact to draw it in place. You will need some large sockets for this job, this is an 1 5/8”.

15. The actual A-arm mount however was a really tight fit. We had to clearance the powder coating from the mount and still needed to tap it with a hammer (more than gentle force was applied). In the end, we used the impact to draw it in place. You will need some large sockets for this job, this is an 1 5/8”.

 

16. The adjuster on the front A-arm mount moves the rear mount fore and aft. You do not want to create any extra tension on the rear mount, which will wear out the bearing. Instead this is to accommodate factory tolerances and for fine tuning.

16. The adjuster on the front A-arm mount moves the rear mount fore and aft. You do not want to create any extra tension on the rear mount, which will wear out the bearing. Instead this is to accommodate factory tolerances and for fine tuning.

 

17. The rear mount slid right in place and was bolted down using the original hardware. Most of the mounts in this kit use bearings instead of bushings, which means better stability and less maintenance.

17. The rear mount slid right in place and was bolted down using the original hardware. Most of the mounts in this kit use bearings instead of bushings, which means better stability and less maintenance.

 

18. The QA1 shocks must be assembled. The lower mounts thread to the bottom of the shock body, a set of optional Torrington bearings (for easy adjusting), then the main (red spring), a spring adapter, the helper spring, and then the upper spring cup. It is quite easy and it all fits together nice.

18. The QA1 shocks must be assembled. The lower mounts thread to the bottom of the shock body, a set of optional Torrington bearings (for easy adjusting), then the main (red spring), a spring adapter, the helper spring, and then the upper spring cup. It is quite easy and it all fits together nice.

 

19. The upper shock tower mount had a couple of issues that we repaired. These slots also have to be widened just slightly with a grinder to fit the bolts on the upper shock cup.

19. The upper shock tower mount had a couple of issues that we repaired. These slots also have to be widened just slightly with a grinder to fit the bolts on the upper shock cup.

 

20. Once the billet aluminum shock cup was mounted, we installed the shock to the car. The shock is retained by a socket-head bolt to the cup.

20. Once the billet aluminum shock cup was mounted, we installed the shock to the car. The shock is retained by a socket-head bolt to the cup.

 

20. Once the billet aluminum shock cup was mounted, we installed the shock to the car. The shock is retained by a socket-head bolt to the cup.

20. Once the billet aluminum shock cup was mounted, we installed the shock to the car. The shock is retained by a socket-head bolt to the cup.

 

22. Next, we dropped the spindle onto the lower ball joint. The supplied spacer goes on top of the spindle, not under it. This castle nut gets 70 lbs of torque.

22. Next, we dropped the spindle onto the lower ball joint. The supplied spacer goes on top of the spindle, not under it. This castle nut gets 70 lbs of torque.

 

23. We used a jack to compress the spring and install the upper spindle mount. This nut gets 70 ft lbs of torque as well.

23. We used a jack to compress the spring and install the upper spindle mount. This nut gets 70 ft lbs of torque as well.

 

24. The last thing we need is to attached the tie-rods and the sway bar. This Comet is now ready for the track. By lowering the shock mount to the lower arm, the suspension has much better stability, and it reduces the flex in the upper sheet metal too.

24. The last thing we need is to attached the tie-rods and the sway bar. This Comet is now ready for the track. By lowering the shock mount to the lower arm, the suspension has much better stability, and it reduces the flex in the upper sheet metal too.

 

25. We bolted on a set of Centerline drag wheels to check the look. We can’t wait to get this sucker on the track.

25. We bolted on a set of Centerline drag wheels to check the look. We can’t wait to get this sucker on the track.

 

Sources:

GearWrench

Global West

Justice Brothers

Summit Racing

 

 

About Jefferson Bryant (221 Articles)
A life-long gearhead, Street Tech Magazine founder and editor Jefferson Bryant spends more time in the shop than anywhere else. His career began in the car audio industry as a shop manager, eventually working his way into a position at Rockford Fosgate as a product designer. In 2003, he began writing tech articles for magazines, and has been working as an automotive journalist ever since. His work has been featured in Car Craft, Hot Rod, Rod & Custom, Truckin’, Mopar Muscle, and many more. Jefferson has also written 5 books and produced countless videos. Jefferson operates Red Dirt Rodz, his personal garage studio, where all of his magazine articles and tech videos are produced. You can follow Jefferson on Facebook (Jefferson Bryant), Twitter (71Buickfreak), and YouTube (RedDirtRodz).

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.


*