David Stribling
December 30, 2016
Photos By: Dave Stribling

This article came about on a fine Thursday afternoon while delivering a 1965 Mustang convertible back to the rightful owner—with the top down and classic rock blasting from the upgraded stereo. The convertible had just over 600 or so miles since my customer had purchased the car and I had added air conditioning, the aforementioned monster stereo, and some other electrical upgrades. Four miles from my shop, the delivery came to a screeching halt when the driver's side wheel bearing let go. The trailer ride back to my shop was followed by an uncomfortable phone call to the customer.

The Granada conversion has been a standard upgrade for early Mustangs since it was introduced in the ’70s. CSRP is breathing new life into an old conversion with its new spindle castings and brake kits.

I think the previous “restorer” (I use that term loosely) used the spindle nut and washer to press the race into the rotor. The outer washer should not be cone shaped.

Bearing failure meant material from the bearing embedded itself into the spindle, destroying the spindle. Forty-year-old spindles from a non-Mustang are getting scarce, and the used equipment may not be suitable for re-use.

Turns out the previous “restorer” had installed a set of mid-’70s Granada disc brakes and spindles on this 1965 Mustang. In a quick online search of auctions and nationwide classified ads, I discovered an important fact: 40-plus year-old Granada spindles are getting pretty scarce, and those that are out there may be a roll of the dice as far as usability.

Now, I know some of you are thinking “lose the Granada spindles. They have bad bumpsteer on a 1965, the toe-in can’t be set, the brakes are too small, the tie rods don’t fit, and the wheels won’t clear.” All true statements, especially with the 1965-1966 chassis. I have even heard this from several of my close associates. However, there was already a considerable amount of money spent on the upgrade, so we looked to salvage as much of the conversion as possible.

Enter Classic Services Restorations Parts, or CSRP. Dennis Ginsberg and his group have taken the tried-and-tested Granada swap and re-made it into an honest option for the modern Mustang retro-upgrade. The company has solutions for all the above issues with the original swap, and it is a conversion that not only works, but is quite cost effective. And the good part: CSRP is making all new components, so there is no trekking through junkyards or buying worn-out components from unknown vendors online.

Let’s sort out all the issues with the Granada conversion, and how CSRP has addressed the problem. First, the good part: The Granada spindle is a sturdy piece that is the result of Ford's engineering through the late ’60s. Ford went through three iterations of tie rods in 1969. The 1970 tie rod became the standard, and it is a good piece. The early 1965-1966 Mustang spindles are on the small side, so the upgrade to the Granada spindle solves that problem. The 1967-1970 spindles and the Granada all have the same geometry, so there isn’t as big of a problem with items like bumpsteer for the later cars. The single-piston caliper was installed on five million vehicles, so it worked well, and the 11-inch rotors are fine for most street applications. Now, the bad part: bumpsteer and toe in, small brakes, tie rod mismatch, and the inability to run 14-inch wheels are all problems.

Bumpsteer and Toe In

CSRP’s brand-new casting for the 1965-1966 Mustang restores the length of the tie rod-mounting arm back to the original length. On the left is the new arm; on the right, the original-style Granada arm.

Although the Granada spindle has the same geometry as the 1967-1970 Mustang, it differs from the 1965-1966 Mustang. The 1965-1966 Mustang steering arm is slightly longer, which means the arc of the tie rod is pushed in, which shortens the tie rod length and adds to bumpsteer. Shortening the tie rods also pulls the tie rods together, and some have stated that the toe cannot be set because the tie rods are adjusted all the way in. (Yes, the Pro-Motorsports bumpsteer kits pull the tie rod forward, but they also drop it down at the same time).

CSRP makes an all-new casting with the arm lengthened to the 1965-1966 specification. This also sets the tie rods back to the normal length, and you gain back the much needed threads to set toe. All original Mustangs suffered from bumpsteer, but now you can look at bumpsteer solutions designed for 1970-1973 Mustangs to see if they will work with the beefier Granada spindles.

The shortened arm on the Granada spindle made the tie rods thread all the way into the sleeve. The toe was never really set properly on the car.

Small Brakes

CSRP offers the original 11.06-inch rotors, which are one-piece and slotted. For most drivers, these will work perfectly well and use standard inner and outer bearings available at any auto parts store. No exotic conversion bearings to hunt down. CSRP also offers a new conversion for the Granada spindles that allow you to use SN-95-style aluminum twin-piston calipers. Street or Track offers a big 13-inch rotor and forged aluminum 4-piston caliper setup to fit the Granada spindle that doesn't affect the car’s track width.

CSRP provides slotted 11-inch rotors with all their Granada conversions. These work with stock calipers or its dual-piston conversions.

You can upgrade to SN95-style late-model Mustang calipers using CSRPs conversion brackets. These allow the use of the dual-piston, PBR-style aluminum calipers with the 11-inch rotors.

Street or Track makes a massive 13-inch brake that works with the 1970-up Mustang and Granada spindles (PN ST13X125-2PC-4P-ALUM) that use a 4-piston aluminum caliper and offers all the stopping power you need.

Tie Rod Mismatch

One of the weaker points of the early cars was the small tie rod size. Conversion adapters are available to mate your original V-8 spindles to the Granada spindle through Mustang Steve. These work great, and CSRP offers a big, hefty conversion tie rod set that bolts directly to the spindle and requires no conversion adapter.

There are two ways to convert the 1965-1966 tie rods to the Granada spindle. On the left, the adapters from Mustang Steve adapt the original tie rod to the bigger spindle. On the right is a new tie rod with the heavier tapered post from CSRP. Either choice will get your steering to the spindle arm.

Can’t Run 14-Inch Wheels

You finally got me. The early wheels had a smaller center hole than the later Granada rotors, and the smaller 14-inch wheel can make contact with the caliper. You can use some 15-inch wheels after a modification to the rotor, and the new 15-inch styled steel wheel, if you are willing to modify the rotors (takes an hour of machine shop time). The Granada spindle can be turned down to 1968 Mustang rotor specs and have plenty of material left over on the spindle.

The later 14-inch wheel from Mavericks will work with the spindle, as they are designed to clear the center and the disc brake caliper. Check with your aftermarket wheel manufacturer and see if their wheels are designed from the early or late pattern.

We already had the Granada conversion completed with an existing power-brake upgrade, so we went with a spindle and slotted rotor upgrade from CSRP. The only thing required after the swap would be to set the toe with the new tie rods. CSRP offers full upgrade kits and power-brake options for all the first generation Mustangs and some other platforms, too. Here is how we upgraded our spindles on our 1965 Mustang.

It is true that the original 14-inch styled steel wheels will not clear the bigger Granada caliper. Scott Drake makes a 15-inch version of the styled steel wheel that looks good and clears the caliper. It is getting hard to find 14-inch tires for performance applications anyway.

How To Swap Spindles

01. The Ford shop manual shows how to build one of these bars for removing the front spindle without having to remove the spring. I tapered the end of mine to better fit the Mustang upper control arm. You and your Mustang friends need a set of these to share.

02. Lift the front suspension by the lower control arm to compress the spring and install the brace so that it supports the pressure of the spring against the framerail after you lower the jack.

03. Remove the caliper and secure it out of your way without twisting or damaging the flexible hose. Remove the dust shield and caliper slide bracket.

04. Loosen the tie rod nut and upper and lower control arm nuts.

05. Most proper tools to do this job like a tie-rod puller are available through some auto parts store’s loan-a-tool program.

06. Do not use a pickle fork to pull the spindle. Get a proper ball joint puller like this and save your dust boots.

07. With the spindle out, check the condition of the dust boots and replace if necessary.

08. Improper installation and cheap parts meant this upper ball joint failed within 500 miles. The boot was torn and the ball stud was flopping around.

09. The new spindles come raw cast, so tape them off and paint them with a good, high-temp coating.

10. Install the new spindle and torque to spec, as well as the new cotter pins.

11. Our new CSRP tie rods are not only beefier, but they have more thread. This eliminates the toe-in problem.

12. Re-install the caliper slider bracket. Clean and lubricate the slide edges.

13. This car only had 500 miles on it, so the brake pads were fine. “Restorer X” forgot to install the pad anti-rattle clips. They are available separately from most auto supply stores, if you lose one or your new pads don’t have them.

14. Install the inner pad and clip it into the slider bracket.

15. Reinstall the dust shield and gasket on the spindle.

16. Our Scott Drake 15-inch wheels already have a relief for the earlier disc-brake rotors, but would not fit the larger Granada rotors.

17. Remove the lugs from the hub using a lug nut and a soft blow hammer. Take several hits with the hammer rather than big swings. You don't want to mushroom the lug or miss and hit the rotor.

18. We'll be cutting the rotors from 2.765 inches down to 2.44, which is the 1968 Mustang diameter.

19. Master machinist Denny Roller only needed an hour to cut down the rotors. Most of that time was spent figuring out the best way to hold it in the lathe. We did a double cut to help clear the Scott Drake wheels (see drawing).

20. After machining, we cleaned all the oils and chips from the rotors and painted the non-contact surfaces with high-temp caliper paint.

21. The new rotors come with the races installed, but I always change them out and install the races that come with the new bearings. Turns out, they were different manufacturers, and you don't want a mismatch to cause a problem. Use a bearing installation tool. Don't use the bearing like “Restorer X” did.

22. “Restorer X” should have used the proper torque spec on the bearings. Rotate the rotor and torque the nut to 17 to 25ft/lb, then back off a half turn, and then torque to 10 to 15in/lb. If you don't have an inch-pound torque wrench, you need to borrow one. Don’t rely on finger tightening.

23. With no time on these pads, we didn’t need to compress the calipers. If you need to, use a block of wood and a clamp. Slowly turn the clamp and press the piston back into the caliper. Go slow to avoid damaging the piston or seal.

24. Install the caliper, lubricate, and slide the tension bracket and spring in from the backside with a few taps from a soft hammer. Install the retainer bolt, and torque to spec.

25. The SCRP spindle and rotor assembly look great and with the revised arm performs better than the original.

26. Although we only needed to reset the toe on the car, we decided to use the Street or Track alignment specification (+5 degrees caster, -.5 degrees camber and 1/16-inch toe in).