While production automobiles have been offered with independent front suspension for over 100 years, the style and configuration of the various components has continued to evolve. It’s true that many early models used a beam-style axle, but this was largely a holdover from the time cars resembled little more than the carriages that inspired them.
Although most classic cars utilize the same basic components for their front suspension and steering, over time these components wear and fail, even on low-mileage cars that have spent the majority of their time in storage.
It is important to regularly service, repair, and replace items like ball joints, bushings, and tie rod ends; otherwise they will fail and make your car difficult to drive—or worse yet, fail completely and create a potentially life-threatening situation.
When Mark Simpson restored his 32,000-mile car, a quick visual inspection of the various components revealed little apparent wear. Once the car was on the road again, it soon became apparent that there were issues that needed to be addressed. Excessive play in the steering, squeaking, and grinding noises in the suspension, wandering in the lane while driving, and squealing tires while cornering made it clear the front suspension was in need of service.
Although the front components initially appeared fine, after a few months of driving, the old, hard rubber in the bushings was crumbling and falling out, the ball joints had become looser, and there was dramatically more play in the car’s steering.
Rather than closely inspecting each component to decide which ones to replace, Simpson elected to replace every front suspension and steering component, with the exception of the steering gearbox itself. This complete-car approach to upgrading the front suspension will ensure the car delivers thousands of miles of trouble-free service.