In the most radical revision since Chevrolet pickups first appeared in 1916, the brand debuted a complete cosmetic and mechanical makeover in 1960 that included torsion bar independent front suspension (IFS). By mid 1963 Chevrolet abandoned torsion bars in favor of a double A-arm IFS design with coil springs. It's unknown whether Chevy's torsion-ride was a design failure or too expensive to produce that lead it its demise.

On the other side of the fence Ford trucks held off introducing IFS until 1965 with a unique new twin I-beam configuration with coil springs. The twin I-beam arrangement proved to be so indestructible that it dominated extreme desert racing, including the Baja 1,000 for many years.

My first Ford truck was a 1965 F-250 that was originally owned by a Newport Beach, California construction company. They shipped it brand-new up to Alaska for years and then sent it down to Baja Mexico to work until it died. A high school buddy who surfed in Mexico a lot found the 1965 barely running and sold it to me. That was back in the days when the CHP gave fix-it tickets for burning too much oil so I undertook a restoration down to the bare chassis.

The 1965 needed a lot of brake parts so I headed to Huntington Brake & Wheel in Monrovia, California, to buy new drums and freshen-up parts for the twin I-beam. A kid about my age who worked there set me up with the hot ticket and it was all for free. He gave me a set of urethane radius arm bushings he said Walker Evans used on his Ford race trucks, and then told me to head over to Pathfinder Equipment Co., to score a two-wheel-drive takeoff frontend.

The year was 1977 and Pathfinder converted Ford E-350 1-ton vans from two-wheel drive to four-wheel drive. I'll never forget it, out back there was a stack 10 feet tall of complete two-wheel-drive disc-brake frontends for $25 each. Just to be a smart ass I asked the guy if I could have one that wasn't rusty and he asked which van I wanted it from. I picked a van and the guy came back on a forklift with a shiny new frontend and threw in a set of organic brake pads he said Ford charged $90 for. All that for $25!

The 1977 E-350 disc brake frontend was a lot beefier than the 1965 F-250 and the 1977 twin I-beam axles bolted right up to the 1965 radius arms. The best I can tell the pivot arm bushings interchange from early F-100s to F-350s. After installing I drove the 1965 to Huntington Brake & Wheel where they bent the I-beams to align camber and set the toe. Looking back, installing the big E-350 disc brakes and stiffening up the suspension was one of the best things I did to the truck. These days I've got this 1976 F-250 Camper Special and I'm applying what I learned from the 1965.


1. 1976 Ford F-250 Camper Special: 'Ol Blue up in the air in front of a black Harbor Freight top-loader cabinet with a lid full of Energy urethane bushings.

2. Jackstand safety and not getting crushed is what it's all about. Harbor Freight's low-boy 2-ton floor jack reaches way under and clears even the lowest of trucks.

3. I highly recommend using a pneumatic 3⁄8-inch drive impact wrench. All of the hardware attaching the front and rear Camper Special sway bars had to be backed up from behind.

4. For lubricating the impact wrench and to use as a penetrating oil to loosen nuts and bolts I really dig Eastwood Aerosol Injected Lubricator.

5. Energy offers urethane tie-rod end cups. It's very important to make sure all of the suspension and steering components are properly lubricated. I pumped the grease gun until all of the old grease flowed out.