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Front Suspension and Steering
A Restomod has a few key modifications. One of them is the pursuit of better handling, and that
makes the front suspension an important focus. This chapter will cover some basics and
performance aspects of front suspension alignment, as well as separate components and complete
front suspension packages. Getting your car pointed in the right direction is important too, so
performance aspects of the steering system are also covered. Front suspension and steering work
together to increase performance and drivability, which is why they are matched together in this
chapter to help you get your car tuned for your style of driving.
There are three main settings of front suspension that affect the performance and drivability of your
car: camber, caster, and toe.

If your front suspension bushings and steering components are loose, worn, or broken, you should
have them replaced before considering an alignment. An alignment performed on a car with worn-
out tie-rod ends or deteriorated control-arm bushings is a waste of time and money. The settings
will most likely change before the car gets out of the shop. Worn suspension and steering
components are also a safety issue, so take care of these things as a matter of course. A worn
steering gear won’t affect the alignment between the two front tires, but it will keep the driver from
enjoying the benefits of the alignment. The worn gear will cause steering to be sloppy, less
responsive, and even dangerous in some cases.
Custom front suspension
This front suspension is a
mix of off-the-shelf
stock-car racing parts and
custom fabricated and
machined parts.
Suspension analysis
software and experience
were combined to pull off
this feat. Even the frame is
completely fabricated.
(Photo Courtesy John
Parsons, Photography by
John Ulaszek)
On a car with upper and lower control arms (as opposed to some strut suspensions that have only
a lower control arm), the spindle pivots on the axis determined by the upper and lower ball joints.
Caster is the forward or rearward tilt of the spindle on this axis as viewed from the side of the car.
On most cars with this type of suspension, caster is changed by adjusting the strut rod or moving
the upper control arm on its pivots using shims. A strut front suspension without an upper control
arm uses an adjustable upper strut mount known as a camber plate to adjust camber and caster.
When viewed from the side, if the upper ball joint is behind (toward the back of the car) the lower
ball joint, the car has positive caster. Negative caster is when the upper ball joint is ahead of the
lower. Caster has a tendency to cause the tires to move vertically a small amount as they are
steered right or left from the centered position. This vertical movement acts to push the weight of
the car off the ground, while gravity tries to pull it back down. The force of gravity, which is trying to
pull the car down, pushes up on the tire. This upward force on the tire causes the spindle to rotate
about its axis to the point that the forces on both the right and left spindles find equilibrium. This
equilibrium is found when both tires are pointing straight ahead, assuming, of course, that the
caster is the same on both sides of the car and there is nothing bent or out of alignment on either
side. Both negative and positive caster can induce this self-centering action of the wheels and give
the car more stability at higher speeds.
Exagerated illistration of caster
The top of the illustration
shows the front spindle in
extreme positive-caster
position. The bottom of
the illustration shows the
front spindle in extreme
negative caster. Positive
caster is preferred over
negative caster.
The self-centering effect does not come from caster alone. It can also come from steering axis
inclination. This is the same basic principle as caster, but in the front view of the suspension. If the
axis of the upper and lower ball joints leans inward at the top, as a lot of cars do, there will again be
a force trying to push up on the car. Some cars get this self-centering effect using only steering
axis inclination and zero caster.
Illistration of severe bushing deflection with rubber suspension bushings Illistration of minimized suspension deflection when urethane or solid suspension bushings are used
Rubber suspension bushings deflect and
distort under hard driving conditions. This
distortion helps isolate road shock under
normal driving conditions. This movement
also allows the suspension geometry to
change, hampering handling characteristics.
Notice how the spindle is tilted and the tire is
barely contacting the ground.
Urethane or solid suspension bushings
transfer road feel to the chassis. Solid
suspension bushings also help the suspension
keep its intended geometry. Notice how the tire
is contacting the ground more evenly for better
cornering traction.
Camber is the inward or outward tilt of the top of the tire as viewed from the front of the car.
Negative camber is when the top of the tire tilts inward, and positive camber is when the top of the
tire tilts outward. Positive camber is not desirable for handling, because it makes the outer edge of
the tire dig into the pavement. If only the outside edge of the tire is on the ground, it does not
produce as much cornering traction as having the entire width of the tire on the ground. With
negative camber, when the top of the tire is tilting inward, the entire width of the tire has a better
chance to evenly plant on the road surface for optimum traction. As with anything in life, negative
camber is only good in moderation. Too much negative camber will have the inside edge of the tire
trying to keep your car from sliding with unwanted understeer.

Camber can be set on your car with an alignment. Camber-curve is something completely separate
from the camber adjustment you get with an alignment (except in the case of a race-bred
suspension with adjustable control-arm pivot points). The camber-curve is affected by the length of
the control arms and the control-arm pivot points. A positive camber-curve actually increases the
outward tilt of the top of the tire during suspension articulation, which is completely undesirable and
intensifies understeer. A negative camber-curve tilts the top of the tire inward during suspension
articulation, which is much more desirable for improved handling around corners. I mention
articulation because when your car is steered into the corner, the body leans. When the body
leans, the outer front tire articulates upward in the fender opening. An extremely aggressive
negative camber-curve can be bad, too. The key to a car that handles well is to keep the largest
amount of the tire tread on the road surface, if possible. Negative camber settings help compensate
for tire distortion under high lateral loads.
The tire in this picture has positive camber This tire shows slight negative camber
This photo shows a front tire exhibiting
positive camber; the top of the tire is
pushing out. If you took a hard corner in this
car, it would have understeer. Only the
outside edge of the tire is biting the ground.
This front tire is exhibiting slight negative
camber. The top of the tire is tilted slightly
inward. This car corners well. The entire width
of the tire tread is able to get traction on the
ground. It’s possible a little more camber would
increase cornering performance.
Toe is the relationship between two tires on one end of the car as viewed from above. If, when
viewed from above, both tires are parallel, there is zero toe. Toe-in is when the front of the tires are
closer together than the rear, and toe-out is when the rear of the tires are closer than the front.

Now that you know what zero toe, toe-in, and toe-out are, you need to know how the settings affect
your car. If you aligned the tires with zero toe, the motion of the car moving forward will actually pull
the front tires to a toe-out position from the distortion of the rubber suspension bushings and from
road friction on the tires. To compensate for the road friction and movement of rubber suspension
bushings, most factory cars are designed with a small amount of toe-in. The goal is to have the
tires at zero toe for the intended average speed of the car. Factory alignment specifications are
intended to minimize premature tire wear and to lower the rolling resistance of the tires. Since
factory specs create less rolling resistance, fuel economy is increased. So, if you are planning on
driving your Restomod across the United States on the Hot Rod Magazine’s Power Tour, you may
want to have your car aligned to factory specs.

With excessive amounts of toe, whether in or out, your tires will wear out faster and your fuel
economy will decrease. Most cars are aligned with around 1⁄16-to 1⁄8-inch of toe-in. A setting of a
5⁄16-inch toe-in is quite a bit, but the small amount of extra toe-in increases high-speed stability.
Consider 1⁄32-inch over the factory setting as a practical maximum. Toe-out has a tendency to
make the car turn in faster. People looking for the fast way around corners will find benefits from
careful experimentation with toe-out settings. Too much toe-out will cause the car to wander back
and forth on the straights because the two tires are trying to steer in different directions. Wandering
will get worse with increased road speed as a result of toe-out. Keep in mind that altering the
factory alignment specs should only be done at the track.

A little toe-out will help your car’s turn-in around corners and can also help to minimize understeer.
What type of driving or racing you plan to do will determine what toe setting is correct for your

Just as a warning, beware of the condition of your front suspension components. Worn or damaged
bushings, ball joints, bearings, tie-rod ends, and other suspension components will act to alter your
alignment settings. Getting your car aligned will not compensate for broken or worn parts.
This picture shows extreme examples of toe in toe out and zero toe
The top of the photo shows
the front tires in zero
(neutral) toe. The car will
drive straight and have
very little rolling resistance.
For demonstration
purposes, the middle photo
shows the front tires in
extreme toe-in, and the
lower photo shows the
front tires in extreme
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This has been a sample page from

How to Build Ford Restomod Street Macnines How to Build Ford Restomod Street Machines
by Tony E. Huntimer
This book Should be called
"How to Build High Performance Fords!"
This is one of the best books we've seen about building high
performance Fords. It contains sections on upgrading brakes
and suspension, improving chassis stiffness, engine choices
and engine swaps, drivetrain choices including
production and
after market transmissions, electrical
systems and even body
modifications. It even has sections
to help you find the right
project car for as little money as possible and where to find the
parts you need to complete your project. This is one of the
best, if not the best book out there about building and

modifying Fords for improved performance. Best of all, this
book is not just about the Ford Mustang as many other Ford
books are. Read the sample pages to learn more!
Click below to view samples
pages from each chapter
Chap. 1 - Shocks & Sway Bars
Chap. 2 - Front Suspension
Chap. 3 - Rear Suspension
Chap. 4 - Frames & Chassis
Chap. 5 - Engine Swaps
Chap. 6 - Transmissions
Chap. 7 - Body & Glass Mods.
Chap. 8 - Finding Parts
8-1/2 x 11"
144 pages
Approximately 300 b/w photos
Item: SA101P
Price: $23.95
Click here to buy now!

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Ranchero. Modifications performed to the car are
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parts manufacturers and suppliers are listed, VIN number
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The Ranchero and Torino Handling Manual 1972-1979
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