Looking back to the early days of front suspension swaps it's almost ironic that two of the most popular independent front suspensions ever grafted to the front of a classic truck chassis were originally found under the frontends of economy cars that left production suffering a bad reputation. The first one similar, but not identical to the famous exploding Ford Pinto is the Mustang II, and second is the Plymouth Volaré.

In all fairness it must be mentioned that neither car earned its place in infamy based on its front suspension design, but rather other areas where the manufacturers chose to cheap out. The reason these frontends became so popular was because they were plentiful in the junkyards, and provided numerous modern improvements in one fell swoop. In addition to independent suspension, they featured disc brakes and better steering. Early Camaro clips, offered the same basic advantages as a Mustang II or Volaré, but finding a donor car at a good price wasn't quite as easy. Fast-forwarding to today one might ask with superior IFS setups available in the aftermarket why would anyone even want to bother dealing with an obsolete IFS such as the Volaré?

Some people don't; they whip out their wallet and buy a new front clip or get an entire new rolling chassis. For other folks it's a simple matter of economics, they might not have the money or the time to undertake such a major proposition. In the case of Glenn Kerr, owner of the '56 F-100 shown here and proprietor of Glenn's Alignment in Costa Mesa, California, there were several reasons to improve upon the Volaré frontend his '56 came to him with. First, there were personal reasons such as getting his truck to ride better, and nip severe premature tire wear in the bud. Being an alignment guy, Kerr knew Plymouth Volarés, Dodge Aspens, and Chrysler Cordobas aligned to factory specifications ride pretty good and don't usually chew up tires. One of the fallacies regarding a Volaré frontend on a classic truck is that the torsion bars can be backed way off to lower the truck's stance. Actually it's half a fallacy. It's true the ride height can be adjusted way down, but it's at the expense of ride quality and acceptable tire wear.

Quoting a '76 Chrysler advertisement might reveal where the myth got started. "Torsion bars can be adjusted easily to keep the frontend of the car at the proper height, regardless of the car's age or its mileage. Turning an adjusting bolt raises or lowers the front of the car. To keep level during braking, Chrysler engineers raised the front pivot of the upper control arm higher than the rear. This design causes the control arm to impart a lifting force to the front of the car as the weight shifts forward during braking. The lifting force resists brake dive to help keep the car nearly level when the brakes are applied."

Keeping the car at the proper ride height is the key to the matter, adapted to a truck and pushed beyond the intended limits, the slackened torsion bar loses tension and the Volaré goes out to lunch. Kerr, as a member of Orange County's Pickups Limited, knew a lot of fellow members with Volaré frontends, suffering with the same problems his truck had. Using his own truck as a guinea pig the search was on for Kerr to see if he could come up with a good solution for all concerned. This led to the folks at Fatman Fabrications in Mint Hill, North Carolina, and the 2-inch dropped spindles they manufacture to cure lowered Volaré evils by returning the suspension's geometry to within factory specifications. Naturally Kerr is in business to make a living, so he won't mind if you take your truck to Kerr's alignment to have a pair of Fatman's Volaré 2-inch dropped spindles installed. For the folks who don't live near Costa Mesa, or like to do the work themselves Kerr invited us to follow along, so we can show what's involved to take an old-school IFS setup and make it better.

SOURCE
Fatman Fabrications
8621-C Fairview Road, Highway 218
Charlotte
NC  28227
704-545-0369
http://www.fatmanfab.com
Glenn's Alignment
Costa Mesa
CA
949-631-2888
www.eglenns.com
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