We love the look and ride of the '71-and-up Mopar B-Bodies. This month we'll show you how
It's no doubt that Mopar products of the '60s and '70s dominated the dragstrips and NASCAR tracks of the day, and backed that track performance up by being some of the quickest and fastest cars on the street as well. And while the suspension technology of Chrysler products was ahead of its time, using torsion bars, multiple leaf springs, a pinion snubber, and sometimes a front sway bar, compared to modern cars, this suspension is adequate at best.
Automotive suspension technology has come a long way since our Mopar muscle cars were built, and Performance Suspension Technology (PST) has made the best of those advances, applying new suspension technology to the parts they build for our older Mopars. Wanting our '71 Road Runner to be a car we could drive on a regular basis, we decided to take advantage of PST's parts to not only rebuild our suspension, but upgrade it with new torsion bars and leaf springs, front and rear sway bars, and modern gas-charged shock absorbers.
While a total suspension rebuild can be accomplished in the driveway with the car on jacks
PST offers many options when it comes to suspension parts, and can be a great source for single pieces like a tie-rod end or idler arm, or entire suspension rebuild kits. Since our '71 Plymouth was still wearing its original and mostly worn-out front and rear suspension, we decided the best bet for our car would be a full rebuild, replacing all of the typical wear items. Additionally, we'll be taking advantage of the PST's product line by ordering larger diameter torsion bars up front, and slightly stiffer springs in the rear for added cornering stability.
Like all Road Runners, ours came from the factory with a front anti-sway bar (commonly called a sway bar) to enhance handling and prevent body roll. While this was a nice feature back in 1971, by today's standards the factory front bar is too small to do much good, so we'll replace it with a larger diameter unit and new bushings from PST. If your car didn't originally have a front sway bar, don't worry. PST has kits in stock to add a sway bar to those Mopars as well.
The PST kit for the front contains everything needed for a complete rebuild with quality,
Out back, we installed PST's rear sway bar kit to give our B-Body a feature never offered by Chrysler. The rear bar will enhance cornering stability, allowing the car to remain flat so the inside tire can get good grip during aggressive turning maneuvers. During hard acceleration, the rear bar also acts like an antiroll bar (which technically it is), preventing roll rotation of the rear end and keeping both tires firmly planted for hard launches. To replace our worn shocks, we chose the KYB gas-charged units from PST for both the front and rear for best all-around performance.
Rebuilding and upgrading the suspension of your Mopar requires some specialty tools and knowledge, so if you're unsure about doing it yourself, we recommend going to a reputable shop to have the work done. Although these tasks could be accomplished in the driveway with the car on jackstands, we took advantage of Inline Performance Specialists' offer to let us use one of their lifts. With their lift and assistance, we accomplished our suspension rebuild and upgrades in about eight hours of work, so plan a weekend if you're doing it by yourself in the driveway.
Before attempting to remove any of the front components, be sure to loosen the torsion bar
Once completed, Inline Performance properly aligned the front end and we went for a drive. Since suspension components wear out gradually, you usually don't notice the gradual decline in performance until after a rebuild. After installing our new components, our initial impression was striking, to the extent that the car drove like a completely different vehicle.
Thanks to the new PST parts, our car's steering was tight, body roll was non-existent, and handling was dramatically improved. Our '71 Road Runner really feels at home on the highways now, as agile as much newer cars, and the enhanced safety and performance really make the car fun to drive. So if your Mopar is wearing old suspension components, give PST a call. They'll hook you up with the parts you need to make your Mopar ride and handle better than new.
A tie-rod separator is a necessary tool to disassemble front suspension components. We've
It's generally easier to take the upper ball joints out with the upper control arms still
After removing the upper and lower control arms, the bushings can be removed and replaced.