When Ford designed the F-100 they did everything right, with the possible exception of not getting it close enough to the ground. For years the cure for that was to install a dropped axle, but while that reduced the truck’s altitude, its attitude could suffer—bumpsteer often accompanied the installation of a modified I-beam. With the introduction of Mustang II independent front suspension kits CUSTOM CLASSIC TRUCK fans found they could have it all, a better ride, improved handling and that cool, in the weeds look.
Over the years these kits have been refined and improved—in most cases the OEM strut rods have been deleted, tubular A-frames have been substituted for the stamped steel variety, and bigger disc brakes are used. But some things remain the same—the spindles are reproductions based on the Mustang II. At one time criticized because they came off a small car, the fact is the spindle pin and wheel bearings are bigger than those found on many GM clips (such as the Nova) that are common swaps.
Jake Brazille has been collecting 1956 F-100 parts for quite some time and when the pile got big enough he decided to build a pickup from the ground up. For front suspension Jake chose a weld-in kit from Bob’s F-100 Parts, it came complete with a power rack-and-pinion, disc brakes, and Aldan coilovers.
The owner of Bob’s F-100 Parts, Bob Carlisle, started his love affair with Ford trucks at the tender age of 15 with a 1953 F-100 powered by a triple-deuce-equipped 312. Later in life, after becoming a journeyman mechanic, Bob opened his own shop and worked on everything from Cobras to gyrocopters, but it was a string of Ford pickups that set his future course. When the business where Bob was buying truck parts came up for sale the die was cast. Today Bob’s F-100 Parts carries a complete line of new and used parts for 1948-1978 Ford trucks and a shop that cranks out turn-key customs and restorations.
Bob’s offers a variety of front suspension options including Volare clips, bolt-in kits, and weld-ins as shown here. While all work well Jake chose the latter because of the clean look. In terms of installation, the Bob’s weld-in suspension is self contained, that is to say all the components attach to the supplied crossmember, so it’s simply a matter of getting it in the frame square and centering the wheels in the fender openings.
Speaking of which, our pet peeve is tires that are too far back in the openings and with F-100s if you rely on the original axle centerline that’s usually what happens. So, even though it’s extra work, we always check the relationship before doing the final welding by assembling the suspension and hanging the fenders. Then we use a string looped over the spindle to make sure the spacing at the widest point is the same in front of and behind the tire. It’s not scientific, but it works. Once we’re happy with the tires’ location everything comes apart for final welding. Follow along and get the lowdown on gaining independence.