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Dropped axle- handling possible?

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  • Dropped axle- handling possible?

    Out in the garage last night and finally got a chance to take a good hard look at the front suspension in my '66 Mustang. Everything is toast. Bent, broken, or missing. This brings me to a cross roads with the cars direction and to a question I have been wondering about:

    Can a straight axle vehicle be made to handle at least as good as rebuilt stock IFS?

    Please, no naysayers. Those are all over the internet. IF you had a straight axle car that you wanted to make handle decently, how would you do it?

    Some of the pros are increased engine compartment space for anything I want to put in there and something a bit different under a '66 Mustang.
    Bakersfield, CA.

  • #2
    I've not done one so I have no personal expertise just observations and the occasional passenger seat perspective.

    I think the question is physics first, in that the roll center will be lower in the front than it was and the ride height will likely be higher absent significant frame surgery, so the car will not be as neutral in cornering as the admittedly poor stock suspension.

    That said you can have plenty of roll stiffness and with attention paid to alignment, ackerman etc. you can have a predictable reasonably safe ride. Given you can replace everything on the front suspension of a Mustang with stock replacement or even mildly updated components pretty cheaply, I have to wonder if the straight axle conversion can be done for the same money if not more factoring in steering components and brake adaptation.

    If the goal is a lifted gasser set-up with no front brakes then by all means go for it an set your your driving expectations accordingly. Look for Steve Magante's back issue stories in Hot Rod and other SIM pubs for great step by step conversions to front leaf spring solid axle set-ups. I think one or more of those were Falcon, Comet etc. so they will be very close to your frame configuration. There are some BS guys with gassers that have completed Drag Week very successfully who mostly post in the Project Cars and in the DW section who would be great sources as well. If you can run hard and finish Drag Week you have all the drivability you could ask for. in my view. Its your project do what you like and enjoy it all the more.

    Good Luck.
    Drag Week 2006 & 2012 - Winner Street Race Big Block Naturally Aspirated - R/U 2007 Broke DW '05 and Drag Weekend '15 Coincidence?

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    • #3
      Truthfully, Bill, I suppose I want it all. I want to be different for cheap and I want parts that seem incapable to do the impossible. In the end, I really want my car to be a slower version of yours, I guess. I want it to be able to do lots of things with whatever drivetrain I decide to swing into it and I want the room to do so.

      Unless there is some crack in the space/ time continuom, I will most likely build the most efficient system I can with the right combo of stock parts. Roller bushings, Shelby quick steer kit and a-arm drop, steering box rebuild, and good bushings/ ball joints is probably all I will be able to swing.

      It's just those intrusive shock towers that get on my nerves.
      Bakersfield, CA.

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      • #4
        groucho has done 1 or 2 lol, im sure he has some great info on the subject
        Charles W - BS Photographer at large

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        • #5
          Talk to 46Austin... He has done several and have seen his car a good 50+ miles from home on freeway and 2 lane roads..
          He is currently starting on a falcon gasser with a big block chevy..

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          • #6
            Originally posted by CDMBill View Post
            I've not done one so I have no personal expertise just observations and the occasional passenger seat perspective.

            I think the question is physics first, in that the roll center will be lower in the front than it was and the ride height will likely be higher absent significant frame surgery, so the car will not be as neutral in cornering as the admittedly poor stock suspension.

            That said you can have plenty of roll stiffness and with attention paid to alignment, ackerman etc. you can have a predictable reasonably safe ride. Given you can replace everything on the front suspension of a Mustang with stock replacement or even mildly updated components pretty cheaply, I have to wonder if the straight axle conversion can be done for the same money if not more factoring in steering components and brake adaptation.

            If the goal is a lifted gasser set-up with no front brakes then by all means go for it an set your your driving expectations accordingly. Look for Steve Magante's back issue stories in Hot Rod and other SIM pubs for great step by step conversions to front leaf spring solid axle set-ups. I think one or more of those were Falcon, Comet etc. so they will be very close to your frame configuration. There are some BS guys with gassers that have completed Drag Week very successfully who mostly post in the Project Cars and in the DW section who would be great sources as well. If you can run hard and finish Drag Week you have all the drivability you could ask for. in my view. Its your project do what you like and enjoy it all the more.

            Good Luck.
            The one thing that was said about no front brakes.... IF you plan on running
            the car at any NHRA track(and I'm sure IHRA tracks) any door car has to have
            brakes on all 4 wheels.... the straight axle inst any big deal to do but I dont think
            your ever going to get the cornering out of it as in a IFS car... I built one for my
            bother about 10 years ago... make sure you put enough caster to it but dont go
            crazy... on a race type car anywhere between 6* and 10* is fine... on the street I
            would stay with 4* to 6* so your not really loading the steering box heavy... the
            steering boxes I've used dont like big loads all the time(they just wear out)
            EDIT
            if you build the car lite enough(2800# and under) you could go with a leading link
            system with coil over shocks(this is what I built for my brothers car)... this can keep
            the front end a lot lower
            Last edited by MR P-BODY; February 17, 2013, 05:26 PM.

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            • #7
              ever thought of a street rod IFS like was used on Gears for the early Cougar with the Kaase Boss nine motor?? All but totally removed the shock towers...not cheap, but, there are always options of other IFS swaps...

              The V8 Interceptor is a project that had been kicking around in my head for a long time. I have always loved the first generation Mercury Cougar and hated that they always seemed to be overlooked in the muscle car world. The Cougar is a sinister looking machine with its hidden headlamps and matching sequential taillights, and its high-performance racing history is well documented, so it was the perfect candidate to build a serious street machine out of.


              Last edited by silver_bullet; February 17, 2013, 05:24 PM.
              Patrick & Tammy
              - Long Haulin' 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014...Addicting isn't it...??

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              • #8
                I have thought about the Mustang II type suspension. What it comes down to for me is appeal. A max efficiency stock design or an out of the norm straight axle are what appeal to me. I guess I am just not really into the generations appart retrofits.
                Bakersfield, CA.

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                • #9
                  Several companies make all kinds of suspension goodies for your car. Take a look around. A straight axle car handles like dog poo.
                  BS'er formally known as Rebeldryver

                  Resident Instigator

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Scott Liggett View Post
                    A straight axle car handles like dog poo.
                    Yeah, generally, they really do. I once borrowed a sixties straight-axle F100 for a few days, and lately have been putzing around in a CJ-5 while I fix a few things for the owner, and it's a world apart...backwards, from an IFS. It's like, with an IFS the point of interaction between the car and the road is at the tire tread contact but with a straight axle it's at the leaf springs also, and they have to be in so far to clear the steering arc, not out at the ends of the axle like can be done at the rear, and the combination just makes for mush (and I know enough about suspensions to describe things in more precise terms but, whatever). Of course we know that Cherokees and Dodge 4x4s handle fine with a straight axle, but that's using a four-link with coils and shocks out near the wheels, and then having a parallel drag-link/track-bar setup. Of course you could do that with a Mustang but then you're back with spring towers again. Packaging would also be an issue, if the oil pan sump is anywhere near along the spindle centerline, which I think it is. You'd have to have the axle either under the sump or around it, if it were to sit at normal ride height.

                    I expect to use a leaf-sprung straight (well, drop) axle on my '37 truck if I ever build it, but just to keep it sixties-style. Hopefully tight bushings and a sway bar will give it some manners.
                    ...

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