1966 Ford Mustang - Project '66 - V8 Conversion - '65-'66 Six to V-8 Front Suspension Upgrade
Our '66 hardtop goes uptown with a fresh V-8-specific front suspension
Part of any restoration project is replacing worn or unsafe steering and suspension components to ensure a safe, comfortable ride. Either you can go back with stock parts and rubber bushings (if you like your 35-year-old Mustang to feel like a 35-year-old Mustang) or you can upgrade to any of the numerous levels of aftermarket performance suspension kits out there for the vintage Mustangs. The choices run from improved bushing designs to full-on tubular adjustable upper and lower control arms with coilover shock conversions. That's just the bolt-in variety too. If you really want outrageous, then you can weld in a Mustang II-style system with rack-and-pinion steering, but that's more for all-out restomods and engine conversion groupies.
To throw another wrench in the works, we've decided to convert our hardtop to a full and correct (as correct as we can get) V-8 running gear, which will require some extra thought. While items such as springs and tie-rod ends can be easily converted by simply making the correct choices in the parts catalog, other used items such as steering stops, spindles, and power steering centerlinks are all hard to come by.
For our new suspension pieces, we went with the great line of Magna suspension hard parts from Mustangs Plus. These lifetime-warranted parts look OE-correct but are improved in several areas. Most noticeable are the upgrades to urethane bushings and, in most cases, stronger materials. While we were speaking to the suspension pros at Mustangs Plus, they went through several questions to determine what we wanted to do with our hardtop, and what we were expecting from the car's handling. We eventually settled for the Magna 620-pound-rate coil springs-and surrounded them with Magna upper and lower control arms, cad-plated and urethane-bushed spring perches, a 1-inch front sway bar, and MagnaGas shocks. Talk to the experts before you order your suspension pieces and you'll be happy. Though we're saving the rear suspension for another article, we opted for Magna mid-eye 411/42 -leaf rear springs, MagnaGas rear shocks, and a shackle kit with urethane bushings. The entire suspension package should lower the hardtop about 1 inch all around. It's nothing drastic to the eye, but handling will be vastly improved.
With our suspension practically dialed in, we needed to score the remaining items to make our V-8 conversion correct and, more importantly, safe to drive. The V-8 spindles aren't impossible to find, but instead of searching countless salvage yards, we went right to the vintage Mustang used parts masters-Metro Mustang. The able-bodied staff of Metro Mustang sent us the requisite V-8 spindles with drum brakes needed for the swap, and even fulfilled our request for the elusive V-8 with power steering-specific turn stops. Other items the folks at Metro can find in their inventory or on their numerous parts cars include power steering, suspension, and engine components. Why drum brakes you ask? We think that a power-drum setup is a nicer street-braking system than manual discs, but who's not to say that we might upgrade from this to power disc later. It is-after all-a project car, you know.