Lee Salisbury's Mustang II Front Suspension Swap
(This Falcon is a 61 2dr sedan, back halved with M2 conversion, 12point rollcage soon. 9"rear 3.50:1 street gears 18.50 x29.50 x 15 Mickey's on convo pro wheels 15 x14.)
The idea for the swap I share, was two fold, one, to up date to a more modern style front suspension with disc brakes and rack/pinion steering, and two, do the swap cost effectively. (I like nice and cheap)
The M2 / pinto was chosen because there are lots of parts available for this front and there are custom brake setups, tubular control arms, and etc. The M2/ pinto is the Streetrod, kit car suspension king.
Once you have the crossmember, trim away the old brackets. The M2 has anti dive built in so if the main cross over is set level for and aft, the spring cup will have a slight slant to the rear.
Set the car (Falcon, Fairlane, or Mustang) on jack stands and LEVEL the car, level on the front frame, for and aft, also side to side.
Once the car is up and level measure and mark the centerline through the engine compartment, for, aft, and what would be the wheel or axle centerline. Do the same for the M2 crossmember. You will use these lines to line everything up on assembly.
Now you are ready to cut up a classic car, are you ready? This is soon to be the point of no return!
Cut away the shock towers, the shock tower braces, strut rod brackets, and lower control arm mounts.
This should leave two large holes where the obnoxious towers were. And bare frame rails to work with (except for the remainder of the cut away mounts and brackets.)
I hope you did level the car up! Before you started, and marked everything as mentioned.
Now you have all this open space lets get to filling it. Measure the outside to outside of the Falcon (or Mustang/Fairlane) and the inside to inside of the M2 crossmember. The M2 is smaller, right? Trust me it is, so you’ve got to subtract the M2 dimension from the Falcon (or Mustang/Fairlane) dimension then divide the difference by two, the resulting number is what must be removed from each frame rail and boxed closed. So the M2 will slide up from the bottom. And you thought you’d never use the math you learned in school!
Just a little note here, if you want the front to set lower, you can trim down from the "A"arm/spring mount some. One word of caution use extreme care, as this may (will) result in oil pan mods.
Now, remember all those marks we made? Sure you do, well lets put them to use. Okay I’m sure there are other ways to do this but this is how I did it. First line up the axle/wheel center lines, next line up the for and aft center lines. Use the shock holes and the corner where the frame meets the radiator yolk, and measure diagonally first left to right then right to left, the legs of this X should be equal within 1/16".
Before you tack weld this baby together double-check everything and be sure the main rail of the M2 is level in both directions, and that the frame rails are level both directions. Everything is okay, right? Sure it is, cause you follow directions well!
Okay tack this baby in. Don’t weld it solid yet; make sure you like the way everything fits before fully welding.
Here is some ways I used to check the ride height; assemble the front without springs (I made a piece of threaded rod welded to a piece of 3/8"pipe to fit in place of the shock) the lower control arm should be level to the ground (control arm to control arm should be a straight line). This method will support a wheel tire combo or the car itself.
You will have to fabricate new frame engine mounts, adapt the steering to rack with after market U-joints and decide if your going to use strut rods. I used stock M2 strut rods modified to accept a 5/8" heim joint, and fabricated mounting brackets from 3/16 steel flat bar. For frame to engine mounts use square tube and round tube for the bolt to go through, the first I made from flat bar to use 63 V8 engine mounts, it works but for the big block I’ll use tube. For steering I cut the stock steering shaft from the steering box (early Falcon), used a ¾ by ¾ u-joint a spacer shaft and a ¾ by 9/16 splined u-joint.
Use the 1974 to 1980 pinto, bobcat, or mustang crossmember, the earlier ones are somewhat different and after market custom parts are hard to find cheaply. Some of the early pintos came with a neat flexible cable from the steering shaft to the rack that can be used (so can the early crossmember. Done that in a Maverick & a "T" hot rod).
Falcons even FE powered ones are lighter than the donor car so you can use the stock 9" M2 brakes , I’ve had them stop a 9.48 second Maverick race car but for only one season.
Tools required to do the swap are sawzall, torch(optional), tape measure, levels (long and torpedo) ,square,and the old Mig welder. If you only have a buzz box it’ll work, just use small rod and the proper heat range.
Have fun and work safely use safety glasses, gloves , work wise, and above all," FEAR NOT" you can do this swap!
Webmaster's Note: Lee volunteered to answer questions regarding his swap. Click here to email him.