Retrofitting a Mustang II Independent Front Suspension

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All right, so I know what you’re thinking. Retrofitting Mustang II front suspensions are huge undertakings. Besides, I’ve already put in a Granada disk brake swap, done a suspension rebuild, and hacked in a BMW rack-n-pinion setup. Why change now?

Three reasons: a) I’m thinking about putting a one piece front body in to replace the fenders, hood, etc and the Mustang II unit would allow me to trim down all that inner sheetmetal for better appearance. b) I’m also thinking about putting in a 4.6L V8 for the powertrain. I understand that there’s some clearance issues with those engines in the early engine bays. c) The steering geometry is better and more compact. d) Flat out… It would just be REALLY COOL.

Besides, I wouldn’t be the first. The hot rod community has been doing this swap for years, and there are companies that make special units just for classic ‘Stangs. So, at this stage, I’m doing research (which I’ll be posting here) and will make a decision soon.

What I’ve found so far…

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Mustang II suspensions, here’s a little background. Mustang II’s and Pinto’s of the same years were built with modular front suspension and steering setup. The crossmember incorporated spots to mount the control arms, springs, rack & pinion steering and motor mounts in one neat little package. There are photos below to give you a good idea. Builders of older classics (ie from the ’30′s) latched on to this right away. They could take the crossmember out of a Mustang II and weld it to their frame, giving them IFS, rack & pinion, disk brakes, and a better suspension geometry. This has also become more popular with ’60′s muscle cars, especially Mustangs, for the same reasons. Companies like Heidts and Rod & Custom Motorsports make entire kits to fit many classics. For earlier Mustangs, there is the additional benefit removing the shock towers, giving you more room to put in whatever engine you want and still have plenty of room for exhaust, etc.

I’ve talked to a few people who have done the swap. All of them swear by it. One guy I’ve talked to has actually done the swap. He got the setup from Rod & Custom Motorsports in SC. He sent me some pictures of the crossmember installation. He’s let me post them here. Thanks for the input Doug:

This is the Mustang II crossmember welded in place

This is the Mustang II crossmember welded in place

You can see the crossmember installed here. For this install, the frame rails had to be cut, but new R&C crossmembers fit under the rails so that the cutting isn’t necessary.

Here is another view of the crossmember from the front

Here is another view of the crossmember from the front

I gave a call to Rod & Custom Motorsports. They’ll sell you the entire kit, including:

  • Crossmember
  • Spindles with rotors and calipers
  • Steering rack and tie rods with ends
  • Motor Mounts
  • Springs and Shocks
  • Upper and Lower Control Arms
  • Inner fender panel to fill hole from shock tower

Or, they’ll sell you the individual pieces. If you’re interested in doing it on the cheap (as cheap as possible without screwing it up), you can get some of the parts from the junk yard. They said that the springs, control arms, steering rack, spindles, rotors and calipers could all be pulled from a donor car. The crossmember, motor mounts and coupling to the steering column are all custom.

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