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I'm getting to the point where I would like to freshen up my suspension. I'm not aware of any issues other than the car just rides rough. I don't have thousands of dollars for a complete upgrade. For around $1,200 budget can I make the car ride better and what would those components be? I've never done suspension work before so I'm assuming something like direct bolt in front coil overs, rear leaf springs and shocks, and sway bar. Am I on the right path? Am I missing anything without going extreme?
 

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Coilovers will eat up a huge part of a $1200 budget in a hurry. Front/rear springs, shocks, front sway bar, and export brace will get you a great improvement. With money left over you might be able to get some new upper and lower control arms. Definitely do the Arning drop while you're there.
 

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Direct bolt in coil overs are not necessarily going to give you a better ride. The only real benefit to them is ride height adjustablity. For a softer ride I would look to:

Springs, front and back
Shocks
Sway bar (smaller for softer ride, but for a 351, I would go with a GT spec (13/16") at minimum, 1" for better handling)
Non-rubber spring perches
Higher profile tires
 

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I don’t think coilovers are a good fit for your budget. A couple years ago I did a refresh of my front end for around $700, though I already had springs and sway bar. New control arms, a better-than-stock spring perch and fresh rubber are going to make a big difference.
 

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Forget the coilovers, Arning drop, roller perches, quality shocks (no KYB) will go a long way to improving your ride and feel. Of course replacing worn components along the way is imperative. If you still have some money left a 1" front sway bar. Performance alignment and if you can the the other work you can learn to to the alignment yourself also for around $100 in a gauge.
Be sure the roller perches make it into your budget as they greatly increase the efficiency of the front suspension and make for a very compliant ride.
Springs if you need them, but you can swap them out later if they aren't too bad. If the rear looks ok I would focus on the front and put as much of the budget there as possible.
 

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I look at the suspension as three separate areas.

1. Rear
2. Front shocks and springs
3. Front everything else including steering wear parts

Rebuilding the suspension isnt going to do a lot for you if the steering is worn.

New SD leaf springs, eyebolts, u-bolts and shackles will run you $350 from Summit.

That leaves you $850 for the front suspension and steering, the sway bar can wait since its an easy install that doesnt change the suspension geometry.
 
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1966 Mustang GT 4sp Nightmist Blue
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Why do people with no experience seem to often want coil overs? Looking at eBay too much?
Could be the younger generation that grew up on the Fast and Furious and that all imports were/are using to "improve" performance via ease of adjustment for ride height.

Chris
 

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Starting with your goal, it sounds like a smoother ride is your target. Performance upgrades such as coil overs and tubular control arms are at best overkill and may not get you to your goal. I would start with an assessment of what your have now. For example, if your car has 620 coil springs and KYB Gas Adjust shocks, replacing those with stock components will likely get your front suspension where you want to be ride wise. Likewise if the current rear leaf springs are performance springs, with poly bushings, they may be just too damn stiff for a comfortable street ride.

For your budget, I would look at Open Tracker and Street or Track LLC for stock components. Things like Moog brand control arms, bushings, sway bar end links and Open Tracker roller spring perches (upgrade) should be on your list. If your budget allows for more than Monroe shocks, I commend the street valving Bilsteins shocks all the way around. At the rear, replacing stiff poly bushings with rubber shackle bushings can also make a difference.

Beyond the ride, if your steering components (gearbox, hydraulic power steering parts) are sloppy, getting the worn parts refurbished by Chockostang is a solid investment. Opentracker Roller idler arm, Moog tie rod ends and upper and lower control arms could be considered mild upgrades and would likely push your budget past its current limit.

The Arning drop is a relative bargain that requires a template and a drill bit and will tangibly improve suspension geometry, again an upgrade.

Lastly, if you are running low profile tires (below 50 series) the tire sidwalls may be too stiff for your taste and taller tires may also help smooth out the ride somewhat.

A couple of years ago I redid the front end on the Mach 1. Suspension parts without replacing springs were about $1200 or so and complete steering refresh with all new hoses was about $900 + shipping both ways if my memory serves. This is with me doing all the disassembly and reassembly. A competent alignment was about $60 locally. If you will be farming out the labor, your local professional hourly labor rate will dictate that part of the cost. Last time I looked around here, competent shops with vintage Mustang skills are generally north of $125/hour.

The Mach 1 was transformed and is a genuine pleasure to drive whether corner carving or long interstate cruises.
 

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Why do people with no experience seem to often want coil overs? Looking at eBay too much?
I considered coilovers because I wanted to be able to adjust ride height without having to disassemble the suspension.

I ended up with the Arning drop and 1" GT springs. Im hoping to run a 25.5-26" tall tire on that setup.

My 65 is lowered and had 225/60/15s on it when I bought it. To low and to stiff a ride. The first time I pulled into the driveway I drove the right front tire into the fender lip. I dont want a car that I have to sweat every time I see a bump or dip so Im setting the 67 up to be a every day driver on all road conditions.
 
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I think first you need to define 'rough.' Is it too stiff? Is it collapsed such that you bottom out every time you hit a bump? And by bottoming out, I mean are you hitting the bump stops in the suspension? A quick look at the rubber bumpers and where they contact will show you if that is going on. Does it drive like a waterbed? Need more info here. Trying to figure out if you are trying to undo previous 'upgrades' or is the suspension just shot. There are different solutions for these issues. Also, how are you going to use the car? Autocross? Groceries and movie nights? Also different solution wise.
And people love to be hating on the KYBs. Pretty sure a 1200 budget means budget shocks. Just sayin.' They can always be upgraded later if you even need to do so.
Make up a spreadsheet with the components called out so far. Include a line for lower control arms, upper control arms and spring shackles. Start populating values from the catalogs. It's going to add up quick.
 

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No hate on KYB here, but they have a place and that is usually to compensate for soft worn suspension. They often tend to give a harsh non-compliant ride quality. There are many decent non gas shocks such as Monroe and others that won't break the budget if unable to step up to Bilstein, Koni, etc.
 

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I run KYBs and Im happy with them. I also run tires with a lot of sidewall, I dont care for the rubber band look on Vintage Mustangs, although it works on some cars I see here, just not for me.

These arent Town Cars and arent going to ride like a Town car.
 

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The cars drove really well when everything was in good shape and the alignment fits the tires.. (origional bias tires react different than modern radials)
Unless you can find a problem (by getting the spring pressure off the joints and moving parts), start with good shocks (bilsteins) big front sway bar, Inspect and possibly replace rear bushings (people ignore that their rear end can move left to right on bad bushings).
Get alignment that works with modern radials... Much has been written on that, Summary: Free = Drop top arm (arning drop) to add camber (more camber as that side goes down), Amost Free = add shims in front of top arm to push top of spindle back, Free = adjust bottom struts to pull bottom forward (adds caster). Then see what you got.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Thanks for all the replies. I think I have some research to do and inspect the car a bit more.


I think first you need to define 'rough.' Is it too stiff? Is it collapsed such that you bottom out every time you hit a bump? And by bottoming out, I mean are you hitting the bump stops in the suspension? A quick look at the rubber bumpers and where they contact will show you if that is going on. Does it drive like a waterbed? Need more info here. Trying to figure out if you are trying to undo previous 'upgrades' or is the suspension just shot. There are different solutions for these issues. Also, how are you going to use the car? Autocross? Groceries and movie nights? Also different solution wise.
And people love to be hating on the KYBs. Pretty sure a 1200 budget means budget shocks. Just sayin.' They can always be upgraded later if you even need to do so.
Make up a spreadsheet with the components called out so far. Include a line for lower control arms, upper control arms and spring shackles. Start populating values from the catalogs. It's going to add up quick.

The worst thing by far is the car bottoms out on rough roads. Enough to make me cringe and feel like something might come through the floor (joking).

My use for this car is to hot rod around rural roads. And by hot rod it's generally at lower speeds making a lot of noise in 1st, 2nd and some of 3rd and I don't corner fast or have any interest in it. The rural bumpy roads are what have me interested in suspension.
 

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Why do people with no experience seem to often want coil overs? Looking at eBay too much?
I think it's because almost every project on car TV shows gets coil overs donated so coil overs are installed. Thus, it's understandable. If I didn't know better, I would assume any 50 year old car needed coil overs for an acceptable ride and handling. And most anyone who wasn't around in the 60s and early 70s to drive a Mustang with a nice, tight suspension would assume they came from the factory sloppy because sloppy would describe most vintage Mustangs on the road today

I agree with the consensus above and that's exactly what I did for my '70 Mach 1:

  • Exchanged steering box for a rebuilt box from Chockostang
  • Scott Drake street performance coil springs
  • Roller spring perches
  • Shelby/Arning drop
  • 1-1/8 front sway bar (a 1" bar is good for most applications)
  • All new control arms, ball joints and tie rod ends
  • Bilstein street performance shocks (these are expensive, but well worth it!)
One option I didn't get was a roller idler arm. I have power steering and didn't think I would need it. For a manual steering car, it would likely be a good idea. Anyway, I'm extremely happy with how it all turned out. Really spiffy!

I might install adjustable strut rods someday. Those would keep the car straight during hard braking.
 

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Based on the bottoming out comment...I'm going to say you should start your journey at the back. Leaf springs sag after even 10 or 15 years, causing the car to sit lower in back and that very well may be the culprit. I know when I put 1 inch DROP rear leafs on my car it RAISED it 2 inches in back.

Rather than order all your parts at once....just start there. Replace the rear leaf springs. If they go on with no problems then move forward. Why? Well...when I started down this road 20 years ago with my car it was when I found one of the rear frame rails was rusted to the point it had to be replaced (that's what the leaf springs attach to). A weekend job turned into all winter and a lot of additional expense (even had to buy a MIG welder).

Good luck.

Phil
 

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Per the leaf springs.... there are ones made in different countries.... I think the consensus is you want USA made Eaton springs. I put on Stock ones and the car seems too high in the rear, so I added sandbags... probably mid-eye looks right for the modern eye.
 

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Pretty much what others say. Everyone has different skill sets and access to equipment which all plays into a budget. A few years back I wanted to do my suspension into something of a corner carver. I was on somewhat of a budget. I had enough money to buy some good parts but not enough for a do over if I got it wrong. My goals besides handling well absolutely had to ride well. It couldn't ride like a dump truck. What I ended up with was a complete Street or Track front suspension. It's all tubular control arms with rod ends. No rubber bushings anywhere. Overkill maybe but it's what I wanted. I have no qualms about what I spent. I don't care about paint. I don't care about my interior. I'm not too fussy about my motor, a junkyard GT40P with used parts.

So absolutely what others said about the Arning drop. It's basically free and probably the single best thing you can do. Roller spring perches. I like them. I believe they will soften up the ride. It may sound counter intuitive but the thing is the bearings move smoothly. Rubber bushings don't like to twist. They store energy and give that harsh snap back feeling. If nothing else, they will far outlast a rubber bushing spring perch. I'm a big fan of adjustable struts. They do away with the rubber biscuits and use a rod end. You end up with a far more predictable suspension that operates consistently the same repeatedly not to mention far more stable braking. Shocks, good shocks do wonders! I'm running Bilsteins and I can blast down any PA country back road and not think twice. Not cheap but just saying.

Anything you can do to stiffen the unibody the better. Export brace, Monte Carlo bar or torque boxes. I don't have subframe connectors, just torque boxes. They improve rotational stiffness, subframe connectors don't.

So investigate different parts and how they fit into your budget and take it from there. Do what you can. I would also suggest doing your own alignment. It's really not that hard. I did it.

I'm in Wyoming county
 

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Bilstein shocks along with the Arning drop will make an amazing difference.
 
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