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Lowering: All Early Independent Suspension Cars

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This article is for some 1934 through 1956 Plymouth and Dodge cars, along with most 1939 through 1960s Chevy cars. Plus, this will also work for many other early cars and light PU trucks from the 40s through the 60s that have A-Arm, Coil Springs on the front suspension.

Most early IFS (Independent Front Suspension) cars used KingPins (up to 1953 Fords), later model cars have Ball Joints (1954-up Ford). King Pin style IFS cars used Dropped Spindle Uprights to lower them. Ball Joint IFS cars usually used Dropped Spindles to lower them. Most of these new lowering parts are available through Butch's or Fatman's Fabrications and from several other shops. They should come with the necessary instructions and hardware needed. The Fatman's kits usually have a new set of King Pins installed where required, ready to go. Some are available with the matching Dropped Steering Arms, which you must use in order to retain the proper steering geometry for your car. If they are NOT available, then you will need to Heat and Bend your original arms to match the drop of your spindles. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT! You cannot get by without this procedure.

Keep in mind, many of the Dropped Spindles or Uprights reposition the spindle in an area that WILL NOT ALLOW the drum brakes to be re-installed. Therefore, you will be required to install Disc Brakes in place of the drums. This is a plus, in the end, with safer brakes being used.

Another way to lower these type suspension systems is to install a set of Shortened Coil Springs, if they are made for your vehicle. There are a couple sources for these (check Hemmings Motor News Publication). It is just a matter of removing your original coils and replacing them with the new, shorter ones. These are usually available 1", 2" or 3" drop, with the 2" normally used.

A Couple of Alternatives NOT Recommended: Some of us old-time HotRodders have heated or cut the stock coils to get a lower stance. The main problem with these techniques is the choppy or stiff ride that ensues. When you heat the coil, you change the tension and when you cut it shorter, it does the same thing. While this will drop the front about 2" or so, I never recommend these types of lowering anymore, from my own experience. Keep in mind, you will always need to have your car re-aligned by a competent shop when you are finished. This is something that MUST be done for a good driving and handling car.

Tech Tips: The Front Shock is also very important. If the front suspension is working properly, you will need to dampen it. If you have an IFS that uses those early Delco Type Upper A-Arms with the built-in shock, you can send them off to some shops to be rebuilt, and they will work fine. Cars that use these types are early MOPAR and many early GM cars. Again, Hemmings is the place to find these type services.

Some of the Fatman's kits come with an alternative shock and/or shock mounting kit. 1949-up Fords and Mercs usually have a Gas Charged Shock that you can change-over to. Check with Butch's or other shops for these replacements.

Most of these older IFS systems we work with actually work very well on today's highways. Especially the 34/56 MOPAR IFS, which are a very good suspension system. I built Carol a 1934 Ply Model PE LWB Dlx Sedan back in the day. This is one of those Delco Upper Shock IFS that I talked about earlier. I designed and installed MOPAR Disc brakes for it, installed a lowering spacer kit in the lower A-Arm to lower it 2". Rebuilt those upper stock shocks and installed Vega Cross Steering on it. In the next few years, we drove it from Dayton, Ohio to St. Paul Nats, the Oklahoma Nats and the Tampa, FL Nats, all with a custom 20' trailer behind it carrying a display chassis and parts. She really drove GREAT! Shouldn't have sold it, we miss that one.

But these suspensions may need to be rebuilt, in which case, most parts/kits are available. Kantor Auto Parts comes to mind, also check Hemmings for many other parts suppliers.

  • Independent front suspension
  • dropped spindles
  • lowering kits
  • uprights reposition spindle
  • suspension systems install a set of shortened coil springs.