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The Ford Ranchero and Torino Handling Manual 1972 - 1979 The Ranchero and Torino Handling Manual
1972 to 1979
This 28 page booklet discusses improving the
suspension and handling of the 1972-79 Ranchero and
1972-76 Torino. It also shows the construction and rear
disc brake conversion of  the 1972 project Ranchero.
Modifications performed to the car are discussed in
great detail, part numbers used are given, parts
manufacturers and suppliers are listed, VIN number
break down is discussed, and much more. Read the
sample pages to learn more!
8 1/2 x 11"
28 Pages
25 b/w photos
spiral bound
Item: MRE079
Price: $11.99
Click here to buy now!
Click below to view
sample pages.
Chap. 1 - Ranchero Handling
Chap. 2 - Project Ranchero


Ranchero and Torino Handling
There is little doubt that a car that handles well is considerably more fun to drive than one that
handles poorly. There is a certain amount of confidence gained when you know the car you're
driving can stop, turn, or accelerate more quickly than the cars around you. The handling on any
car can be improved to a certain extent, but we were extremely happy with the results of
modifications made on our project car. The handling on this car was really outstanding when it was
completed. Here are a few tips on improving the handling of your '72 up Ranchero or Torino based
on our experience.
1972 Ford Ranchero GT
Rancheros and
Torinos are fairly
heavy cars. Our
project Ranchero
weighs in at 3960
lbs with a quarter
of a tank of gas
and no driver.
This doesn't necessarily mean they can't be made to handle fairly well. There are a lot of cars
riding around on very similar chassis to the 1972-79 Ranchero and Torino. Thunderbird and
Cougar had an almost identical chassis through the '70s and most of the other full sized Ford,
Lincoln, and Mercury are on similar chassis. In fact Crown Victoria and Grand Marquis are on very
similar chassis through '97, the main differences being rear differential upper control arm location,
steering sector location, and front lower control arm design and layout. These are the same cars
used as police cars, which mean handling packages and components are readily available and
salvage yards are full of them.
Disassembled Ford
Probably the best place to start is with the suspension
bushings. If you haven't replaced them yet, you probably
need to. At this point the entire front had been removed
from our project car which made the job a little easier.
The factory rubber bushings leave allot to be desired.
They don't maintain suspension geometry very well and
allow for allot of deflection.
We replaced ours with a set of after market polyurethane bushings from Performance Suspension
Components. A polyurethane bushing kit for the rear suspension on our Ranchero was $59.95
(Part No. 4-3120), and the front suspension bushing kit was $29.95 (Part No. 4-3111-G). While you’
re ordering don't forget to order the strut rod bushings for the front as they’re not included. They’re
available in polyurethane for $17.95 (Part No. 4-7117). Installing these bushings is not an easy job,
so if you don't know what you're doing, find someone who does. The coil springs have to be
removed and this is a somewhat dangerous operation due to the amount of energy stored in them.
Generously lubricate these bushings on assembly with the lubricant provided. If you need additional
lubricant use Ford Silicone Dielectric Grease. DO NOT USE A PETROLEUM BASED GREASE!!!! It
will eventually soften and damage the bushings.
This is the time to check all of your ball joints and steering for excess play. Replace anything that's
marginally loose or seized. The ball joints on our car were in good shape, but we needed an idler
arm for the steering due to excessive up and down play. Give all of your grease jerks on the ball
joints and steering linkages a shot of grease while you're under the car. Don't forget to take a look
at the 4 rubber bump stops on the front and the 2 on back while you're under there. Often these
deteriorate with age and need replacement.
While everything was apart we cut around 5/8ths of a coil out of the front coil springs. This did two
things. First, it lowered the front slightly, and secondly, it increased the front spring rate, which
these cars definitely need to help them handle. There were several different springs available for
the back; ours was equipped for trailer towing, and they were a little too tall for our taste so we
replaced them with a set of rear springs from a '72 Torino 4 door. Not a huge change in ride height,
but it was just about right.
Ford Rear Suspension and Shock Absorbers
The next thing to think about is shock absorbers. Shock Absorbers
are very important in determining how a chassis will react the instant
it starts going into a corner as well as going over bumps, so when
trying to make a car handle, shock absorbers are critical. We did a
lot of research on shock absorbers for this car and finally installed
Motorcraft Extra Heavy Duty, part number: AX-316A on the front.
They had a 1.375 piston, and compression force was rated at 145 lbs while rebound was rated at
315 lbs. They retailed for $27.75 each. On the back we installed Motorcraft Extra Heavy Duty, part
number AX-317. They also had a 1.375-inch piston and were rated at 130-lbs compression and
275-lbs rebound. They retailed for $27.17 each. Unfortunately both of these shock absorbers was
discontinued in 1999. Neither of these shocks was listed to fit this car. They were however, the
heaviest shock absorbers Motorcraft listed for 1992-96 Crown Victoria police cars. They also were
a direct bolt on for a Ranchero or Torino if it's '72 or newer. When ordering shock absorbers
compare the specks these shocks had and try to find something similar. No one makes
performance shocks specifically for improving the handling of Ranchero or Torino so ordering the
heaviest shocks available for a 1992-96 Crown Victoria police car is a good choice
Next we moved on to stabilizer bars. Our car was factory equipped with a wimpy 0.875 inch diameter
stabilizer bar on the front from the factory and none on the rear. Quite a few mid to late '70's
Cougar XR7 are equipped with handling packages which includes a 1.125 front stabilizer bar and a
.45 or .5 inch rear stabilizer bar. We found a 1.125-inch front sway bar on a 77 XR7 at a local
salvage yard and purchased it for $35. It's a direct bolt on and we installed it with polyurethane
bushings and end links. Remember to lubricate the bushings just like the suspension bushings
using Ford silicon dielectric grease.
The factory intended these cars to under steer because they consider it safer for the average
driver. On the back we wanted a stiffer stabilizer bar than what the factory intended to help correct
this, so we made special brackets and end links to install a .875 inch stabilizer bar on the rear, once
again with polyurethane bushings and end links.  The booklet "Ranchero and Torino Handling"
shows pictures of how this rear sway bar installation works and gives diagrams for any parts that
need to be built. If you prefer things to just bolt on, the factory rear sway bar in polyurethane
bushings is a good choice, but  we feel the car corners better with the larger bar.
For wheels we installed 15 by 8 inch Centerline Billet Fluted Stars with 3.5 inch back spacing with
255/60r15 BF Goodrich Radial TA all the way around. These are about the largest wheels and tires
that will fit on the front of the car. We haven't had any clearance problems yet but the fenders must
be adjusted almost perfectly.
Ford Rear Disc Brakes
For improved stopping power we
wanted 4 wheel disc brakes so after a
little research we installed a rear disc
brake setup from a 1992 Crown
Victoria police car along with the
master cylinder and parking brake
system. This conversion and the
results are discussed more in "The
Ranchero and Torino Handling
Manual."
We recommend setting the alignment to the following: Caster +3 to +5 1/2, the more positive the
better. Camber 0 to -1/2. Set toe inn 1/16 inch to 1/8th. You'll need the toe closer to 1/8th if you're
using rubber bushings instead of polyurethane.
The Results
The ride of this Ranchero is really unbelievable. It's not harsh at all. It's comparable to a late
model Thunderbird or perhaps a turbo coupe with the suspension set on firm. It reacts to bumps
and dips, even while cornering hard with perfect grace and predictability. This car really is fun to
drive, especially in tight corners ...
Next


This has been a sample page from

The Ford Ranchero and Torino Handling Manual 1972 - 1979 The Ranchero and Torino Handling Manual
1972 to 1979
This 28 page booklet discusses improving the
suspension and handling of the 1972-79 Ranchero and
1972-76 Torino. It also shows the construction and rear
disc brake conversion of  the 1972 project Ranchero.
Modifications performed to the car are discussed in
great detail, part numbers used are given, parts
manufacturers and suppliers are listed, VIN number
break down is discussed, and much more. Read the
sample pages to learn more!
8 1/2 x 11"
28 Pages
25 b/w photos
spiral bound
Item: MRE079
Price: $11.99
Click here to buy now!
Click below to view
sample pages.
Chap. 1 - Ranchero Handling
Chap. 2 - Project Ranchero


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