As evidenced by the scene shown here, sometimes our cars don't go exactly where we want them to. Unfortunately for this '71 four-door, 318-equipped Dart Custom, which was recently acquired from the original owner by Nina from Norway, the car's lack of certain braking and handling qualities had put it on its side. Fortunately, no other vehicles were involved and the sheetmetal damage was surprisingly minor, but gave pause that it might be a good idea to correct the classic all-drum-brake situation before it led to even greater disasters. At least this incident was enough to speed up the "Yeah, someday I'll take care of that" attitude that's regretfully all too common.

So while the details of how this happened will be postponed until another day, we began the search for a remedy-namely, a disc-brake conversion for the front end. With little time to search boneyards far and wide to find a suitable '73-'76 disc-brake A-Body with the required decades-old yet usable parts still attached, the aftermarket seemed the way to go. And having witnessed the installation of Wilwood brake components on numerous magazine-project cars throughout the years, our first inquiries were naturally aimed in this direction.

Wilwood (located in Camarillo, California) was onboard for the project, whether we wanted to go with their no-fuss, basic bolt-on replacement kit for the Dart's front drums or do something a bit more elaborate. Updating the remainder of the front-suspension components seemed prudent too. This had also been in the "someday" category, especially since all of the original, 30-year-old ball joints were too shot to even align it properly (we learned this when it chewed through the front tires in record time after we started driving it).

This led to a chat with the folks at PST (Performance Suspension Technology) in Montville, New Jersey. Although their polygraphite bushings sounded tempting and came with a 20-year warranty, this Dart is just your basic, daily-driver family car. We were told the trade-off for superior handling capability was the risk of an occasional noisy suspension, and after having a '78 Dodge B-200 van squeak and severely annoy us ever since installing urethane bushings years ago, we opted for their original-performance replacement kit and its rubber bushings.

Next, we had to find a shop to do the work and put up with our cameras. We selected Magnum Force Racing in Campbell, California. Magnum Force proprietor Ron Jenkins is a die-hard Mopar guy. Not only was he willing to have his shop crew work on the Dart, but he also offered to throw in a set of his tubular upper control arms. These control arms, aside from looking cool, will let you replace the stock torsion bars with coilover shocks, but this seemed a tad on the overkill side for this street-only Dart. Ditto of his next offer, which was installing one of the new trick Magnum Force tubular K-members under the car. Losing a lot of weight and providing adequate space for headers, deep oil pans, and the like is obviously a good thing; going to rack-and-pinion steering would have been nice too. But since the Dart sees only the parking lot when it goes to the drags, we declined using this appealing hardware as well; the control arms would be enough.

The only complication was using the tubular upper control arms with their large-shank ball joints. They required the use of spindles from one of the aforementioned '73-'76, factory-disc A-Body cars (and their beefier lower ball joint assemblies), so we would need some salvage yard parts after all. Acquiring a set was surprisingly painless, since it took only three phone calls before connecting with Bonanza Auto Dismantlers in Shingle Springs, California, where a disc-brake '76 Valiant was spending its final days. The gent on the phone said the spindles looked fine, so we had them shipped to us.