Mustang II or Not To
What it do? Well first off, let me say I have crossed over! I used to be into lowriders, but ever since I got my hands on this great mag, that was it. Well, three subscriptions later, I got a question. Right now, I'm in prison in good ol' Texas and I have an '87 Ranger that I want to cut up, but I was wondering on the front suspension. I want to tuck 20s, or at least get the truck as close to the ground as possible. In the Mini Truckin' February (Volume 21, Issue 2), article "Clean and Simple," the owner Richard said he should have put on a Mustang II front clip. I wanted to know, what would be different and maybe what would you prefer? Also, what shop do you think would be best for the job in Texas? Thanks for your time, and great mag! Late.
J. "Kaotik" Paredez
I run across this quite a bit on the online forums. The oh-so-popular Mustang II front suspension gained a lot of popularity in the old-car market and the availability of aftermarket parts makes it look like a great alternative, but there is one major weak link in the design of the Mustang II suspension: the upper and lower ball joints are too close to each other. This isn't much of a problem when using coil springs, but the use of air springs creates an issue. The problem comes with the upper A-arm being so close to the upper 'bag mount. Even if you put in the extra effort to make the upper mount as unobtrusive as possible, you are still limited to about 5 inches of total travel. Since you want to lay out on a 20-inch wheel, that isn't nearly enough travel. What I would suggest is an '83 to '88 Toyota front clip. The early Toy clip is quite common in junkyards and takes quite happily to air springs. Getting more than 8 inches of useable travel is not an issue, and the use of dropped spindles makes laying on a big wheel much easier. I have personally installed this system into a few Fords and have been very happy with the finished product.
I'm sure there will be some people, even shops, that don't agree with my feelings on this particular subject, but having dealt with both systems, there is no reason to fight the Mustang II clip when the Toyota parts are so readily available.
Drop Spindle IRS?
First, I would like to say I love your magazine. Unfortunately, I'm reading it in prison, but will be home soon to finish my '80 S-10 Extended Cab that was in the middle of a body-drop. The reason I'm writing is because of all these awesome, independent rear suspensions in the December (Volume 20, Issue 12) mag. On the cover story of the Nissan Xterra it said S-10 drop spindles were used on the rear. How is that possible?
Well Justin, when I saw your letter, I thought that this would be the perfect time to explain the difference between a spindle and a knuckle. First, though, I had to call the guys at Mr. Scrape to see what exactly they used for the rear suspension. It turned out that you misread the stats. The rear suspension on the Xterror is a stock type '94 300ZX IRS, utilizing the stock knuckles that came on that suspension system. So, that leaves us to answer the question at hand.
All front "spindles" are technically knuckles. A knuckle is what brings it all together. The ball joints attach to the knuckle the brakes (in most cases) attach to the knuckle, steering, ect. Where the confusion comes in is when the knuckle has a spindle-pin pressed into it. Having serviceable bearings and seals on a hub typically necessitates a spindle-pin of some sort. Back in the day, cars used a spindle that attached to the straight axle without ball joints, so they were technically called "spindles" and that term has carried over to today.
Most front suspensions these days don't have a spindle of any sort and any drive application most certainly isn't going to have a spindle. Front wheel drive and 4WD vehicles utilize a bolt-on or press-in hub that has a drive-flange or a CV joint bolted into it in order to drive the wheel. And in all of my years of working on cars, I have seen so many different variations of the knuckle that there isn't enough room to describe them all.