HEMI-FIED LEAF-SPRING SUS­PEN­SION

RE­BUILD YOUR FIVE-LEAF AND TURN IT INTO A HEMI-TYPE SUS­PEN­SION FOR IM­PROVED HOOK AND HAN­DLING.

Mopar Muscle - - Contents - TEXT AND PHOTOS: DAN FO­LEY

Re­build your five-leaf and turn it into a Hemi-type sus­pen­sion for im­proved hook and han­dling.

We don’t care what the Brand Xers say, we know the vin­tage Mopar sus­pen­sion sys­tem (tor­sion bars and leaf springs) works quite well when set up prop­erly. When adding big doses of power (like our ’65 Coronet that’s re­ceiv­ing an 825hp Street Hemi), a se­ri­ous sus­pen­sion up­grade is crit­i­cal for im­proved con­trol and road hold­ing. In three of our pre­vi­ous in­stall­ments us­ing our Project Hemi Coronet, the front sus­pen­sion (PST), steer­ing (Borge­son) and uni­body (US Car Tool) were strength­ened for re­spon­sive steer­ing and hand­ing, and to pre­vent body twist from the torque of our new Ele­phant en­gine.

This time we’ll beef up the rear sus­pen­sion. Pre­vi­ously, we re­built the ’68 B-body Dana 60 and out­fit­ted it with Wil­wood 12.19-inch rear disc brakes. All along we’ve strived to main­tain a stock-look­ing sus­pen­sion for when some­one takes a peek un­der­neath, yet have a re­spon­sive, good-han­dling B-body that’ll hang in the turns with to­day’s cars. Sure, there’s no ar­gu­ment that mod­ern af­ter­mar­ket sus­pen­sion sys­tems can out­per­form our vin­tage stock set­ups, but what we’re do­ing here will re­turn much more re­spon­sive han­dling and trac­tion than just a stock rear sus­pen­sion re­build.

A lit­tle more be­fore we move out back. Up front we re­placed the wimpy rub­ber with tough poly bush­ings. Now, with poly bush­ings in the rear we’ll have much less de­flec­tion amongst all the sus­pen­sion com­po­nents. Also up front we used thicker 1.03-inch di­am­e­ter tor­sion bars (stock is 0.92 inch) and add a Hell­wig 1 3/8-inch front sway bar. To stiffen the rear sus­pen­sion to match the front mods, we’ll be adding leaves to the stock five-leaf setup and a Hell­wig 7/8-inch rear sway bar. Back in the 1990s the Dodge’s stock leaves were re-arched for that pe­riod-cor­rect stance (the rear raised 1- to 2-inch higher than the front). Here, we’ll be adding two leaves left (seven leaves to­tal) and three leaves right (eight to­tal) for not only the right look, but even bet­ter per­for­mance than the mus­cle cars of the era that came equipped with the Hemi rear sus­pen­sion (six leaves left and seven leaves on the right).

Look­ing through my new Clas­sic In­dus­tries cat­a­log, I no­ticed many per­for­mance parts, be­sides a wide range of restora­tion of­fer­ings for our A-, B-, and E-body cars. In the rear sus­pen­sion sec­tion, I no­ticed ’64’74 Hemi-type (six leaves l/s, seven leaves r/s), ’66-’76 Hotchkis ge­om­e­try cor­rected (1-inch lower) and ’66-’71 HD lower leaf springs (two per side). Yearn­ing to main­tain that right stance, we de­cided on the HD Lower Leaf Springs. By adding a pair (two leaves) of the HD Lower Leaf Springs to each side of our re-arched stock leaves, we can have Hemi-type rear sus­pen­sion for our “Cool Blue” Coronet. We also or­dered the ’67-’74 Leaf Spring Re­build set to prop­erly re­build and de­tail the orig­i­nal units. Round­ing out the pack­age are QA1 dou­ble ad­justable shocks to sep­a­rately ad­just com­pres­sion and re­bound for the ul­ti­mate ride, han­dling, and trac­tion for our in­tended type of street or strip driv­ing.

We’ve been build­ing Project Cool Blue to be a low-key, stealthy/stock-look­ing B-body bruiser. We went with a pump-gas Street Hemi rather than a pe­riod-cor­rect cross­ram Race Hemi to hide the 825hp ele­phant un­der the stock flat hood. Hav­ing an old-school mus­cle car that can safely han­dle, hook, and brake on to­day’s roads is im­por­tant, plus we won’t be afraid if a mod­ern mus­cle car pulls up along­side us.

Un­til the next in­stall­ment with Cool Blue, check out th­ese lat­est work­ings as we con­tinue to inch closer to com­plet­ing this ex­cit­ing project car.

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