Until recent years, the established method to attain independent front suspension was to weld a front clip from another vehicle under your stock chassis, usually a Mustang II crossmember, GM subframe, or similar. However, some cars have chassis that don't allow a simple Mustang II installation, yet are too narrow for a GM subframe. Fatman Fabrications builds clips that allow a 2- to 4-inch drop and include premade mounts for bumpers, sheetmetal, and usually radiator core supports.
As well as common models, Fatman offers these clips for a huge variety of vehicles, including Plymouths, DeSotos, Packards, and Studebakers, and is constantly adding more to the range, so call and check to see whether they offer an off-the-shelf clip for your project. Even if they don't, they can fabricate one from supplied dimensions. (Check out www.fatmanfab.com for more information.) The advantages of installing a Mustang II-based IFS are many, including modern disc brakes, conventional coil or air springs, modern telescopic shock absorbers, a choice of bolt patterns, and rack-and-pinion steering, either manual or power assisted.
1 The Plymouth as delivered to Circle City Hot Rods (CCHR). This is the ideal condition i
While the subject of this article is a '34 Plymouth coupe, the installation technique applies to any similar vehicle, so don't pass this story by just because it features a Plymouth! Likewise, we'll not dwell too long on the actual suspension assembly, as that's pretty straightforward and is comprehensively covered in the instructions supplied, but rather concentrate on the adaptation of the new clip to the Plymouth's framerails.
It's necessary to remove the engine, transmission, and all front sheetmetal from any car receiving a front clip swap, then level the chassis side to side and front to rear. It's also vital to ensure the frame doesn't move throughout the procedure. Fatman's instructions recommend using a plumb bob to drop from the bumper mounts, the center of the kingpins, and the front body mounts to the floor, and mark these positions so they can be referred to later, ensuring the new clip is aligned. However, the Plymouth, and its replacement clip, use substantial radiator core support holes. The guys at Circle City Hot Rods, who installed this clip, elected to fabricate a temporary jig, welded to the chassis behind where it would be cut, to use these holes for alignment.
From there it was simply a matter of following the instructions, with measurements unique to each vehicle, to mark and remove the old clip and install the new. While cutting off the front of a perfectly "good" chassis may fill some with dread, the instructions are clear, the procedure is straightforward, and anyone with competent welding skills should be able to complete the swap in a weekend. Follow along as we show you how the boys at Circle City Hot Rods did it.
2 The first order of business was to level the chassis side to side and front to rear, wi
3 While the instructions supplied with the kit explain in great detail how to use plumb b
4 With the body raised off the chassis slightly, it was possible to follow the instructio
5 Once the old paint was removed in this area and machinist's blue sprayed on the bare st
6 With the front of the chassis supported, Proctor began to cut through the chassis 'rail
7 Using a floor jack and a couple of helpers, the stock frontend was lowered to the floor