One of our goals for the Hot Rod Hauler was to get it a little closer to the ground and still maintain its load carrying capacity. We weren’t looking for an “in the grass” stance, but two or three inches would do it; we just had to find a way to deal with the twin I-beams up front.

In 1965, Ford introduced the twin I-beam front suspension in trucks. The advertising of the day that announced the revolutionary front suspension proclaimed these vehicles rode like a car and worked like a truck. Twin I-beam suspension offered improved wheel alignment and reduced tire wear the ads went on to say. Some of the illustrations that went along with a few of the early ads showed how when a wheel encountered a bump the other was unaffected. Interestingly, these drawings seemed to indicate that a wheel going over a bump moved straight up and down, however that must have been some ad agency’s version of the engineering involved because in the real world they behaved differently.

Ford’s twin I-beams were roughly 36 inches long and were attached to the frame on one side of the truck with a coil spring, shock, and the wheel at the other—forged steel radius arms located the axles front to rear. And while it was true that one front wheel could hit a bump and not impact the other, the suspension was tough and didn’t ride bad, but it didn’t take long for owners of Fords to find out that reduced tire wear was not one of the advantages. In fact, tire wear was an issue as was the tendency for the trucks to wander and follow seams in the roadway, particularly when the shocks were worn.

Over the years, we’ve had a love/hate relationship with the front end under our F-350. On the plus side, not much maintenance has been required. Other than regular lubrication, all that’s been done was a set of kingpins and a complete set of tie-rod ends at the 160K mark. On the other hand, it has had a tendency to knock the corners off a set of tires in short order, particularly when the shocks were shot, which happened with alarming regularity. Over the years, we’ve learned that the secrets to preventing premature tire wear were regular alignments and fresh dampers.

While the twin I-beam suspension is a mixed bag of good and not so hot for Ford aficionados, it really leaves a lot to be desired when altitude alterations are part of the plan. Raise or lower a truck with stock axles much past factory ride height, and the camber becomes such that you’ll be saying goodbye to the edges of your tire’s treads in no time. With Ford’s single solid axle predecessors, there have always been a number of options to get the front end down, such as modified stock or aftermarket dropped axles or getting rid of the stock front suspension entirely and replacing it with a custom-made independent or a clip. For many of the twin I-beam trucks, most of the same options exist (although we’re not aware of anyone dropping stock axles) as dropped replacement twin I-beams are available and there are a number of custom independents and clips that are suitable for F-150s. But in the case of an F-250, and certainly our ’73 F-350, load capacity becomes an issue with aftermarket IFS and passenger car clips, so, as far as we were concerned, the only option was to install dropped axles—and that decision led us to Airbagit.com.