The ever popular “Effie” has been a staple of the classic truck market forever. This is where it all started for us. One of Fords best looking and best proportioned trucks to date. Big enough inside to be comfortable and still have a hot rod or street machine look.
While working on a friends Dakota (bad transmission) some time around 1990, I broke out the tape measure and found that it would be a much better solution than the Volare’ or sub-framing a Camaro clip. Back then almost no-one had tried installing Mustang II on these trucks. And now that they are available, people are finding out that it’s just not a universal solution to every IFS problem.
Let me go through some of the more popular choices when it comes to converting your old I-beam and parallel leaf front suspension to something a bit more enjoyable on the highway.
The old Plymouth Volare’ copped it by the thousands to donate their front ends for these trucks. While it gave the stance we all wanted, they just haven’t stood the test of time. The crossed torsion bar front end certainly worked. It was designed in the era where the objective was to isolate the driver from actually driving. Numb and over boosted steering coupled with a super soft spring that floated. Gave you about as much feedback as your Atari 2600. While there still are a few out in the junk yards, they are getting far and few between. Replacement parts are still available, but the amount of hacking to your stock frame to install is off-putting now.
Yeah, it’s nowhere near as popular now as it was back then. The amount of work to install a sub-frame on these trucks is far more work than the Volare’ was. Arguably the Camaro was better handling. Compared to today’s standards, it still lacks what it takes. The workload to do an install, requires quite a bit of fabrication and reconstruction. Most likely the loss of your VIN number which is on the front frame horn or front cross member. With some States making rumblings about denying registration to cars and trucks that underwent such a conversion, doing a sub-frame becomes more unpalatable.
Crown Victoria (Crown Vic)
These are increasing in popularity, specifically in the later 67 up Ford trucks. People really like them for their availability and can be had cheap. Big turn off for most is the track width in excess of 65″ and you have a limited variety of wheels you can use with them. On something like a 53-56 F100 you are going to run into some very problematic issues, namely that really wide track width. This is going to put the wheels flush to the outside of the fender and in some cases I have seen even pushing slightly outside the fender lip. Now, If you want the ride height to be lowered, this is going to be a big problem. There are a few fabricators out there offering narrowed cross members and rack and pinions. That takes away the cost incentive and still leaves the wheel selection issue. Just seems like a lot of effort for little gain.
[Something I want to discuss in the forums is what happens to your IFS when you widen or narrow the track width. Look for a blog post on that in the future. ]
Of course our choice would be the IFS we build. The Dakota introduced model year 1997 was a game changer. Creating the Mid-Size pickup, it was also the first pickup with rack and pinion steering. The Dakota has the same track width as your Effie and a load capacity well in excess of what your truck will need. For more information hit the Dakota Tech File for the low-down on all the details of why we choose this as the best available suspension for your truck.