Jim Smart
January 28, 2014
Photos By: David Vaughan

This Total Control Products suspension install article begins with a little background. We’re installing a complete TCP suspension system on a ’71 Mustang convertible, the centerpiece of an effort called “Rebuilding Generations.” Created by Kevin Keep of My Deals LLC and the Calvary Chapel of Eagle, Idaho, Rebuilding Generations consists of a group of students who bridge the generations by enabling older, more experienced enthusiasts to teach young people about auto repair and restoration.

For this project, Rebuilding Generations is building a ’71 Mustang convertible restomod for display at the 2013 SEMA Show. Optima Batteries has jumped on-board along with Strange Engineering, Modern Driveline, Total Control Products, West Coast Kustoms, Wilwood Brakes, TMI Products, and others. Bruce Couture of Modern Driveline opened up his Boise shop for our TCP suspension installation, along with a five-speed/cable clutch conversion as well.

We’re going to show you how to improve the ’71-’73 Mustang’s plowing mentality with TCP suspension components that will weave crispness into these great road-going cruisers. If you install enough power in a ’71-’73 Mustang and team it up with an excellent handling and braking system, you have a Mustang ready for both the interstates and the canyons.

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Rack & Pinion for Mustang Classics

If you have the budget, wrap up your Mustang suspension with power rack and pinion from Total Control Products. We’ve installed this system on a number of classic Mustangs. It bolts in without special modifications and cutting. And once it is installed, you will wonder how you ever got along without it. Rack and pinion makes your steering crisp and spot-on accurate. TCP provides everything you’ll need for the weekend installation.

1. Begin installation with coil-over shock mounts topside, then the upper control arms. Upper control arms are fixed, yet adjustable and don’t require shims.
2. Because Rebuilding Generations is a teaching exercise, Bruce Couture had students torque each and every fastener to TCP specifications. Here, the upper control arm nuts are torqued to 75-100 ft-lb.
3. Lower control arms get eccentric eliminators from TCP, which lock the lower control arms into a permanent camber setting. You have a choice of several camber settings.
4. Coil-over VariShocks get beveled spacers on each side before installation at the top.
5. Throughout this article you will see two spindle types—drum (in black) and disc (in gray). This is the final installation with the disc brake spindle intended for Wilwood disc brakes, which will be installed later. The spindle is secured to the upper and lower ball joints.
6. Lower shock mounts are torqued to TCP specifications, which are provided in the instructions.
7. The lower VariShock mounts get two beveled spacers just like the top mounts, with the fastener torqued to TCP specifications.
8. The appropriate ’70-up disc brake spindle is tied to the lower control arm. You may have to shim the castle nuts in order to get the cotter pin hole lined up once the castle nut is tightened.
9. The articulating strut rod ball joint is installed here in place of the factory strut rod bushings. The hole must be slightly enlarged with a grinder to accommodate the fine thread pin, which is 1.45-inches in diameter.
10. The sway bar urethane bushings get generous amounts of silicone lubricant to keep them quiet.

To get into a complete TCP coil-over front suspension system, you’re going to spend upwards of $2,600, excluding shipping and handling. TCP’s rear leaf spring suspension system begins at $300, not including VariShocks and related hardware. However, when you consider what you’re getting for your money, it all hits home because you want a terrific driving experience and a suspension system you will likely never have to replace.

11. TCP provides these billet aluminum sway bar chassis brackets, which install with bolt heads down and locknuts up. Again, follow TCP torque specifications.
12. Stabilizer links with urethane bushings are installed next. Bolts can go either way, but it is suggested bolt head up and locknut down.
13. The VariShock coil-over shocks are adjusted per the TCP instructions. What you are seeking is ride quality and ride height. Perform the initial TCP adjustments, then lower the car and observe ride height. Once you have achieved proper adjustment, lock down he adjustment rings.
14. TCP makes the most of your Mustang’s factory tie rod ends with this billet aluminum adjustment sleeve. In fact, TCP includes new tie rod ends to make sure your front end is nice and tight.
15. The completed TCP front suspension looks great and takes ’71-’73 Mustang handling where it has never been before. Both control arms are fully adjustable as are the strut rod and coil-over shock absorbers. Ride quality is vastly improved along with handling.
16. TCP's bolt-in replacement leaf springs are made from he finest steel alloy for leaf spring manufacturing, according to TCP. Eye style determines ride height. Mid-eye and reverse eye springs lower the ride height. Reverse eye lowers ride height by 1 1/2 to 2-inches. Plus thre are lowering blocks avaialable. Heavy-duty shackles with urethane bushings stand up to hard cornering.
17. VariShock fully adjustable dampeners provide both handling and ride comfort. Both bump and rebound settings enable you to fine tune your driving experience. These are bolt-in rear shock replacements with urethane bushings.
18. The top shock mounts disconnect behind the rear seat. This is a two-person job with someone underneath and someone on top.
19. VariShocks from TCP bolt right in and sport larger shafts and fasteners than stock replacements. Mount them for easy access to the adjustment knobs.
20. Bruce Couture of Modern Driveline suggested this approach to leaf spring bushing installation using a C-clamp, which was very effective. Be sure to apply silicone lubrication to prevent squeaks and noise.
21. TCP leaf springs are installed first at the forward anchor position, then connected at the shackles. Needless to say, the rear axle must be supported from the time you remove the old suspension parts.
22. Spring shackles get silicone lube and detailed installation. Wear disposable gloves for this effort because silicone does not wash off easily. Avoid getting it on your tools.
23. Rear axle U-bolts require more thought than you know because you can overtighten them and distort the axle tube. Tighten U-bolts until the spring support and leaf spring are flush together, which is 35-45 ft-lb.
24. VariShocks are secured to the leaf spring plate and tightened to where the urethane bushing’s circumference reaches the washer’s circumference. Do not overtighten.