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F100 Front Suspension Options by Chad Wissmar

1953, 1954, 1955 and 1956 Ford F100 (F-100) Front Suspension

Choosing the right 1953, 1954, 1955 or 1956 front suspension for your Ford F100 (F-100) is really up to you and the kind of truck you want to build. Some front suspension considerations to ponder: Daily driver or show truck, high horsepower or cruiser, quality of ride. There are many choices when choosing a 1953, 1954, 1955 and 1956 front suspension. I'm not considering a frame graft from another car an option at this point because I think there are better, and less intrusive options for the 53-56 F100 (f-100) frame that is better in the long run. The Volare is about as intrusive as I can stand.

Stock 1953, 1954, 1955 and 1956 Ford F-100 (F100) Suspension and Dropped I-Beams

Let's face it. If you're looking for original, you will be rebuilding the stock suspension on your Ford F-100 (F100) to make it run straight down the road safely. The stock set-up is fairly simple. Rebuild kits are available from many sources. You should make sure all of the bushings are in good condition or replace them. Leaf spring eye bushings are simple to replace and can wear out of round. Kingpins and their bushings require a reamer to size the bushings to the kingpins. When you install these bushings in the axle, they conform to the shape of the hole in the axle which is by no means a perfect round hole. To keep a tight fit, the bushings are made to ream back into round and fitted to the diameter of the kingpin. Definitely take your time here because reaming too much means you start over with a new set of bushings. Make sure the rubber bump stops are in good shape and are actually there on the frame above the axle.

Dropped axles and reverse eye leaf springs are available to drop your truck for a lower stance. There is nothing cooler than a dropped Ford F-100 (F100)! It is possible to take your stock beam and have someone stretch it to achieve a dropped axle. It's usually expensive to have done, and good luck finding someone who can do it and maintain good geometry. Dropped I-beam axles are available. They will likely be made of seamless tubing, rather than a cast piece like your stock axle.

Better alternatives are out there for a smoother ride and adjustable ride height.

Corvette Suspension for your 1953, 1954, 1955 and 1956 Ford F-100 (F100)

This has to be one of the coolest front suspensions you can put on your F100. You get the performance of Corvette braking and independent suspension for about the same money you would spend on a Mustang II or other IFS. Since the Corvette weighs a little more than the average Effie, the suspension is better suited to be placed under a 53-56 F100. The average Mustang II system tends to be a bit light duty in comparison. Check out more on Corvette IFS in our catalog.



1953, 1954, 1955 and 1956 Ford F-100 (F100) Mustang II Suspension

Several companies have Mustang II conversions specifically engineered for your 1953, 1954, 1955 and 1956 Ford F-100 (F100). They're fairly easy to install and are cost-effective. Mustang II IFS kits vary in price and parts configuration. The least expensive way to go is to buy a weld-in Mustang II crossmember kit. Then you can purchase the rest of the suspension, brake, and steering components from your favorite parts house or salvage yard. Another option is to buy a complete 53-56 Ford F100 (F-100) Mustang II front suspension kit. You should be able to buy a complete Mustang II kit for under $1,900 for a basic set-up. Adding air bag suspension, chrome suspension arms or tubular arms will increase the price.

Remember, your stock suspension was meant to have a flexible frame. If you are going the Mustang II route, you should box the front secton of the frame rails to make the chassis more rigid. You will be welding a substantial crossmember in place and that will help with frame rigidity. Locating this crossmember on the frame accurately is important. You can keep the same centerline as your stock suspension and your wheels will remain spaced toward the back of the fenders as stock is. Or, you can move the crossmember forward on the frame a bit and center your wheels in the fenders better.This system doesn't require cutting or knotching the frame. Line it up accurately and weld it in. Plenty of brake options are available for the Mustang II spindles which is just one great reason to go this way. 13 inch brakes are available from Baer, and possibly even 14 inch brakes can be found. People I've talked to say go 11 inch or bigger with your front brakes. That's a lot of truck to stop and the investment in braking can save reinvestment in paint....

1953, 1954, 1955 and 1956 Ford F-100 (F100) Volare Suspension

While not considered a show suspension exactly, the Volare suspension is well suited to the 1953, 1954, 1955 and 1956 Ford F-100 (F100). It fits on the frame well, and maintains good geometry. Width is nearly perfect for the Ford F-100 (F100). The donor cars have similar weight as your Ford F-100 (F100), so the suspension components are substantially strong. Ride height has some adjustability and that is attractive to lower your 1953, 1954, 1955 and 1956 Ford F-100 (F100). Be aware that you can reduce the torsion bar pre-load adjustment, but the ride can be too soft at the expense of handling, and probably not what you want. Drop spindles for the Volare suspension are available to lower your truck properly, but are pricey. Finding a donor car is pretty easy. Tons of Chrysler cars used this suspension from the mid 70's to late 80's. You don't necessarily have to find a Volare automobile. This makes this suspension swap inexpensive. The key is finding a good donor that isn't worn out. Benefits include a fantastic IFS ride, power steering and nearly 11 inch diameter power disc brakes. Wheel bolt pattern is 5 on 4 - 1/2 inches which matches up with other Ford bolt patterns. Finding a 9 inch rear end with the same bolt pattern should be easy. Stock 1953, 1954, 1955 and 1956 Ford F-100 (F100) wheels may not work on this suspension as the hubs are bigger.

Taking the suspension out of a donor car is fairly easy. You simply unbolt the front k-member and suspension from the donor car. Installation involves knotching the existing Ford F-100 (F100) frame to allow clearance, but the frame remains stock otherwise. This install requires some fabrication skill, but is not terribly difficult. A Volare suspension swap is a graft onto the Ford F-100 (F100) frame and should be welded on, not bolted. No Limit Engineering used to have a video that showed this install. Check with them before you install this suspension. Remember, you should box the frame with the Volare suspension. One down side to this system is that the power steering box sometimes gets in the way of engines (headers/exhaust).

Custom Independent Front Suspension (IFS)

If you're building a show truck, this is the way to go. A few companies sell complete custom IFS for your 1953, 1954, 1955 or 1956 Ford F-100 (F100). The advantages to these systems are mostly looks and glitz. Mustang II suspensions can work almost as well, but simply don't look as nice. Polished stainless and chrome components are available on most systems that I've seen. You're probably pushing $2,500 to $3,000 to get a nice custom IFS for your Ford F100 (F-100) truck.

This article was published on Tuesday 01 August, 2006.
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