We're starting from the bottom on our latest project, so follow along as we improve our Ba
Whether you work for a magazine or not, chances are your project vehicles are like ours and never reach a state of being truly finished. Even after they're complete enough to drive, take to a show, or to the track, there always seems to be another part we want to try, or another piece that will give us a little more power, or . . . well, we're sure you know the feeling. So although our projects never really seem to get completely finished, we still get excited about starting a new project. Deciding where to start, however, can be a perplexing proposition in itself. Since we all want a car that looks good, it may be appealing to start fixing the car up with a trip to the paint shop. Performance is also important, so maybe building that hot big-block is a good starting point. While we've been tempted to begin a project by painting it or installing a new engine, the reality is that most projects, whether they'll be driven during the restoration or not, can benefit from the solid foundation of a good suspension and brakes.
As an original Slant Six car, our Barracuda had the weakest springs and smallest brakes of
You may recognize our latest project from our Rare Finds department of several months ago. We scored a deal on this '67 Barracuda convertible and have decided to build it into something Plymouth never offered in 1967-a big-block Formula S convertible. Given that this car was originally equipped with a Slant Six engine, and the spongy suspension and inadequate brakes that came were standard issue with the Slant Six, we decided that it just made sense to upgrade the suspension of this vehicle before we went any further. Also, since we plan to drive this car regularly, we wanted to be sure the car would handle and stop well enough that we wouldn't be afraid to drive it in heavy traffic. It's simply no fun to have to panic stop behind a new vehicle that has four-wheel disc brakes and ABS if your car is equipped with 9-inch factory drum brakes and a worn-out original suspension, so we felt an upgrade was in order.
We know that spending money on your car's suspension generally doesn't reward you with a better looking or better accelerating car. Most people who see your car at a cruise night will notice the paint, interior, and engine before they notice the tubular upper control arms, but the rewards for upgrading the suspension aren't intended to impress people at a car show or cruise night. Suspension improvements are more for the driver of the car, the people in the car, and the drivers and passengers in the cars on the road around yours. Today's cars are lighter, more nimble, and have far better brakes than most musclecars from the '60s and '70s, so we see suspension upgrades as simply keeping up with the times. Driving a big-block-equipped anything these days with worn suspension components and factory drum brakes isn't just no fun, it's unsafe.
Since our car didn't just need replacement parts, but needed heavier torsion bars and springs and new brakes, we didn't want to piecemeal our suspension by replacing one part at a time. We needed a comprehensive kit that would give us all the standard suspension rebuild components, as well as the upgraded parts we'd need to make our car safe when the big-block is installed. Our research led us to a new kit offered by Just Suspension called "The Works" kit. Offered as a standard front-to-rear suspension kit for Mopar A-, B-, C-, and E-bodies, with customizable options and upgrades, this kit seemed to fit our purposes perfectly. It contains everything we'll need to complete our car's suspension, while upgrading it with modern components as well.
Knowing our car's factory 7 1/4-inch rearend would never hold up to a big-block, we found
In addition to our suspension and brake parts, we ordered Just Suspension's "Six-Pack" of
Starting in the rear, we simply unbolted the leaf-spring forward and rear mounting bracket