We began our job by removing the spindles and brakes and shipping them out to Brake Tech for overhaul. While we waited for our parts to return, we tackled the car's front suspension, removing the parts to clean and inspect them prior to installing the new suspension components. As with any 30-some-year-old car, we had the standard fight on our hands. Dousing the hardware liberally with Royal Purple's Max Film penetrating oil a day prior to completing the work certainly helped free the rusted hardware, and a high-power impact wrench didn't hurt either. Aside from a tie-rod/ball joint separator, a ball joint socket, and a pitman arm remover, only standard hand tools were needed to remove the suspension components. Just Suspension, knowing that ball joint sockets are somewhat of a specialty tool, included one in our suspension rebuild kit. Replacing the control arm bushings does require a hydraulic press, but if you don't have one and still wish to do the work yourself, simply remove the components and take them to a shop to have the new bushings pressed in. They'll charge you for the labor, but not nearly what they would charge to do the job completely. We were finishing up the suspension job just about the time our brakes showed up, so we bolted the brakes back on, bled the system, and were back on the road.
How did our new brakes perform? While we'd love to give you before and after stopping distance numbers, we really can't. Our brakes were in such poor condition that we could have improved stopping distance simply by cutting holes in the floorboards and stopping Fred Flintstone style. Instead, we chose a real world driving test and took our Chrysler to the test track known as Interstate 4 in central Florida. This stretch of road is always packed with vehicles weaving and jockeying for position, much like a Formula One race. It seems everyone is in a hurry, and if you leave a car length of space in front of you, two cars will try to fill it, cutting you off. Those of you who have driven this road know what we mean. While we generally avoid this road while driving our classic cars because of its propensity for accidents, we took the Chrysler onto the interstate during rush hour traffic and were surprised at how comfortable we felt with the new brakes installed. Our Chrysler was maneuvering and stopping like cars half its size and weight, and gave us confidence we had only dreamed of before performing this upgrade. We now look forward to many miles of driving this car without worrying that we can't stop if someone brake-checks us in traffic. Not bad for a couple of weekends of wrenching!