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Should I or shouldn't I?


Classic Rog
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Hi Guys, I have a '55 Ford that I was thinking would look better lowered. At least in front about 2". I think this would make the car look better, and I understand it could make it handle better. I'm not sure what all this entails, but thats why I'am asking your opinion. Will this actually make the car ride better, or could this adversely effect the suspension on the car? Any suggestions? Thanks, Rog (Portland, Or):confused:

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Classic Rog,

Welcome to the AACA Discussion Forum. While some people who love to modify cars may tell you otherwise, The Ford Motor Company paid engineers to design the suspension system to be the best it could be at the most economical price available. Spending money to change the engineering is not something that I would recommend.

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The Ford Motor Company paid engineers to design the suspension system to be the best it could be at the most economical price available.

Actually, that's not quite correct. In the range of mass produced cheap cars the suspension is a compromise between the mighty dollar, comfort and performance. Having worked at General Motors for a short time in the 70's I can give you an ironclad guarantee of that. Lowering the centre of gravity of any car will give you some benefits in handling. But you will sacrifice something, in your case probably comfort. I haven't worked on a 55 Ford so realistically, you will have to lower the car to see what is gained and what is lost.

Will the car look better?:- Well that's a personal thing that only you can decide for yourself.

Will it make the car ride better?:- Not in my opinion. Probably worse.

Will it make it handle better?:- Probably yes.

Will it affect the suspension?:- Well that depends on how you do the lowering so I can't answer that. But do not change anything unless you can change it back if you aren't happy.

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If you go to the trouble to instal an after market independant front suspention, it would probaly handle better and the brakes would be better if you use disks. Be ready to spend about 3 to $5000 and expect a deprecation<o:p></o:p> on the value of the Ford.

If you only cut the front springs, you will get a lower and stiffer ride. If you just heat the springs it will continue to get lower in time.

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Having been a teen in the 50's I know a little about lowering. At that time it was cool to lower any ride you had. The ultimate cool was a shoebox Ford slammed to the max, virtually no suspension like a farm wagon. Front by cutting off part of the coil or heating it and letting it collapse. On old Fords and Mercs (I don't call M-B a Merc, only Henry made Mercs) it was a dropped axle. Result was a rough harsh ride and geometry that was off so it didn't handle right and uneven tire wear was accelerated. Rear lowering was done with lowering blocks that fit between the axle tube and the spring. On Fords and Mercs we used lengthened spring shackles. Result was limited suspension travel and rough ride. On Fords and Mercs without anti-sway bars the body rocked side to side on the long shackles.

Unless your car is a POS, leave the suspension alone. As Roger said, if you want to improve ride, handling and brakes get aftermarket suspension system, but, it will turn your car into a "hot rod" and it will probably lose value if it's a nice car.

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This thread is a perfect example of how the results you get from any poll will be skewed by the audience you ask. 99% of AACA members (at least those on this forum) will instantly respond "NO" to any question about modifications. I'm not saying that they are right or wrong, just that you are not getting a statistically valid sample in response to your question.

I will say that whether or not you lower the car is your call and how it looks only matters to you. If you simply go with lowering springs or cut springs, this is an easily reversible process, so you're not exactly hurting the value (and we're not exactly talking about a fuel injected 57 Chevy or a 55 T-bird here, so "value" is a relative term). How it looks will depend a lot on the tire diameter you are using and how they fill the wheel wells. Personally I like a little lowering but not a frame-scraping stance. Do not expect to improve handling solely with this mod, in fact, if you are only cutting coils you run the risk of biasing the suspension such that at the new "normal" ride height the suspension is no longer at the as-designed position. You will need to realign the suspension after lowering and you may find that there isn't enough adjustment in the stock suspension to get back to stock alignment specs. Just a few points to consider.

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Thanks for the input. The internet is a great thing. Although I'm not concerned about the car losing value at this point, I would like to improve it's looks (my opinion), and handling. A local tire and repair shop said they will do the lowering. Asked what this would do to my car, they said it would handle and corner better. The car doesn't have power steering and I plan on using it as a daily driver. If I can improve the overall ride, that would be good. Thanks, Classic R.

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This thread is a perfect example of how the results you get from any poll will be skewed by the audience you ask. 99% of AACA members (at least those on this forum) will instantly respond "NO" to any question about modifications. I'm not saying that they are right or wrong, just that you are not getting a statistically valid sample in response to your question.

Joe raises a good point so I should expand on my two word response above. I agree that the decision to modify is the owner's and I like a lot of modified cars. My response was based on my personal experience with "backyard" suspension mods combined with more current trends seen with import tuner cars. Most bolt on forms of lowering just remove suspension travel which destroys ride quality, alignment, and safety. The best way to lower and actually get a useable vehicle is with airbags but that is a costly option that involves re-engineering the whole suspension. My limited personal experience has ALWAYS ended up with having to reverse the mods back to stock due to dissatisfaction with the results and problems.

I owned a few 55 Fords years ago and the mods I did to those were not lowering but rather to raise the suspensions Gasser-style. I remember twist-in coil spring spacers and long extended rear spring shackles. Looked "Cool" at the time but rode and handled terribly and went through front tires quickly - those were the days...

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Thanks for the input. The internet is a great thing. Although I'm not concerned about the car losing value at this point, I would like to improve it's looks (my opinion), and handling. A local tire and repair shop said they will do the lowering. Asked what this would do to my car, they said it would handle and corner better. The car doesn't have power steering and I plan on using it as a daily driver. If I can improve the overall ride, that would be good. Thanks, Classic R.

I encourage you to seriously investigate and consider the consequences of altering the suspension geometry.

I had a late model vehicle for several years (daily driver for 100k miles) that I modified with Hotchkis Suspension all-around along with new wheels and tires. Hotchkis makes extremely high quality, well engineered race-grade suspension components, the sort of stuff road racers and autocrossers use. The vehicle cornered like it was on rails, but the ride quality was harsh (at best). I didn't realize just how bad it really rode until I sold it and moved on to something different. Lowering a vehicle (and inevitably stiffening up the suspension) will never improve the ride quality, don't let anyone tell you otherwise. The vehicle I had (I thought) looked great and handled excellent, but then the real problems began...

As others have mentioned, you will chew up tires (especially fronts). There is virtually nothing that can be done about this because you've altered the factory geometry of the vehicle. The thing you've really got to watch is that you will most likely wear the inside edge of the tire first. You can wear the inside down to the cords and have the outside looking brand new, so frequent tire inspection is an absolute necessity if you pursue this. And no, tire shops and alignments can't fix this stuff...it's because of the suspension geometry. You either accept the risks associated with this and the cost of buying tires frequently or you shouldn't do this.

I also experienced premature wear of other driveline and suspension components all because the factory geometry was altered: bearings, bushings, etc. I learned my lesson the hard way that no modification is ever mutually exclusive, and that is especially true for suspension modifications. Having things off of their factory engineered positions by inches or even fractions of a inch can make a huge difference. On an old car it may make even more of a difference.

Be very, very careful about who does the work and exactly how it's done, too, as with a daily driver your life can depend on it. Perhaps your local tire shop is unusual, but I would NEVER have a tire shop sell me on something like suspension modification and then let them do the work. Also remember that suspension modifications can lead to overdriving the car and exceeding the capabilities of the steering system, transmission, and the brakes.

I would recommend avoiding this especially if the car is going to be a daily driver.

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As others have mentioned, you will chew up tires (especially fronts). There is virtually nothing that can be done about this because you've altered the factory geometry of the vehicle.

I'm sorry, but this is not true. IF (and yes, that's a big if) there is sufficient adjustment in the front suspension to return to stock alignment specs, then there will be absolutely NO chewing up of tires. I'm also at a loss to explain how lowering the rear suspension on a solid rear axle has ANY effect on the tires.

You WILL get a harsher ride if you are simply cutting coils. Cutting a coil on an existing coil spring raises the effective spring rate. I also would be very skeptical of a shop that promises improved handling and ride quality simply by lowering the car. That sound you hear is the BS detector going off.

I will say that there is a VERY easy way to lower the front without changing suspension geometry at all, and that's simply by using dropped spindles. Several vendors sell these for your car, and they lower the front with no suspension changes whatsoever. They also typically are designed for a disc brake conversion, so it's a win-win. I'm not that familiar with the 55 Fords but I assume your rear suspension is leaf spring. De-arched springs lower the rear with no changes to geometry or ride quality, typically, other than less suspension travel before hitting the bump stops. Again, neither of these mods will improve handling noticeably (although after spending the money, your "butt G-meter" will likely say otherwise). The miniscule change in CG height will not have a noticeable affect on handling. Aftermarket anti-sway bars will give you that, however.

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I'm sorry, but this is not true. IF (and yes, that's a big if) there is sufficient adjustment in the front suspension to return to stock alignment specs, then there will be absolutely NO chewing up of tires. I'm also at a loss to explain how lowering the rear suspension on a solid rear axle has ANY effect on the tires.

Ok, I should have been a bit more specific.

Lowering vehicles unavoidably effects the toe, camber, and caster (all the stuff that makes up "alignment") which can sometimes not be adjusted out, thus the tire wear on the front, typically on the inside as I mentioned. In my case having alignments done to address issues with toe, camber and caster accomplished little and I was left dealing with excessive wear on the inside front tires as a consequence of the suspension modifications, so it absolutely CAN be true...it all depends on the individual situation. Sometimes you just can't get back to factory specs after lowering, but I shouldn't have thrown out that remark without some qualifiers.

There are aftermarket camber kits (though I'm not sure if they have them for '55 Fords or not - never looked) that can help correct the problem. What can be adjusted out depends a lot on what changes are made in terms of parts installed and what the application is.

As you indicated, I should have never said "especially" when mentioning the front tires as it implies problems on the rear, too. I experienced no issues with rear tires and don't think there would probably be issues in this case either. Really I think that we're agreeing here, I just wasn't specific enough initially and used "will" where I perhaps should have said "can" or "may."

Seems like the car owner in this case isn't going to pursue this anyway, so it probably matters not.

Let's motor on! :cool:

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Just received an e-mail from someone saying to use coil springs from an Aerostar. Don't know what year. Only part number cc850 from Moog auto parts. Said they would lower my car about 2" and improve ride. Any comments? C-Rog

Join the HAMB, do the mandatory introduce yourself, then ask away on the main board. I know i have read of the Aerostar coils being used in the pre 52 shoebox Fords on that site. Or, just go to that site and do a search on the main board for "aerostar". You should get a lot of threads to read.

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