October 31, 2005

Suspension and Brakes
The fifth step involves safety elements crucial to any car project. New suspension components should top the list here. A new steering gear and replacement steering linkage are strongly recommended at this time. Rebuilt steering gears are available from a wide variety of sources. Because parts to rebuild old Ford steering gears are hard to come by, you are money ahead just buying a rebuild unit ready to install. Flaming River has new Ford steering gears for a variety of applications.

You may wish to use an aftermarket rack-and-pinion steering system on your project, but rack-and-pinion does not come cheap. It isn't always easy to install either, depending on your application. Rack-and-pinion steering improves control and eases driving effort, making a huge difference in how vintage Fords feel on the open road. If you can afford it, do it.

If you're like most of us with a modest budget, your objective needs to be safety you can afford. New and rebuilt steering gears have already been addressed. However, there's more to steering than just a worm and sector. Tie-rod ends, the center link, Pitman arm, and idler arm all require your close attention. Control arms and upper-and-lower ball joints also represent safety issues. Coil springs don't always need to be replaced, but it's a good idea if you have the budget.

In back, leaf springs, bushings, and shackles nearly always need to be replaced in the interest of proper ride height, handling, and ride comfort. While you are at it, opt for new shock absorbers. A good rule of thumb: regular gas shocks and stiff springs for a nice combination of ride quality and handling. If you want killer handling and don't mind a firmer ride, opt for KYB gas shocks or Koni adjustable racing shocks.

Brakes are an area we cannot stress enough. You can have all the power in the world, but if you cannot control the power, it becomes dangerous and ineffective. Minimum, you should have front disc brakes and a dual-braking system. For street drivers, stock front disc brakes are plenty. Weekend racers may need larger aftermarket disc brakes. Rear disc brakes are necessary only if you love the way they look through the wheel spokes, or if you're going to do some serious racing.

What's Inside
The sixth step encompasses the inner world, beginning with repainting any interior surfaces that were originally painted. Next, upholstery and new carpeting with padding underneath make a huge difference in ride quality. Whenever you are replacing weatherstripping or rebuilding door hinges, take an accounting of what's inside the door. Does it work properly? Replace or rebuild window regulators. Clean and lubricate lock mechanisms. Check and adjust window travel. Get your restomod feeling good for not only yourself, but for anyone taking a ride with you.

Opt for the best upholstery quality. You want something that's going to last. Cheap upholstery does not last. Rebuild the instrument panel, installing new bulbs, and cleaning and lubricating the speedometer head. Make sure the speedometer cable turns freely. All gauges must work. Each of the gauge needles needs to be an easy-to-read color.

The transmission shifter/selector, glove-box latches, ash trays, courtesy lights, and the turn-signal switch need to be in proper working order. Not only should they look good, they need to function properly.

There is no real magic in building a cool restomod. What it takes is looking at what the most talented people are doing, taking your time, and not being afraid to try it again. Restomod isn't just about building an exciting automobile; it's about following the journey that gets you to the place you've dreamed of.

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