Although Chrysler Corporation was the first to roll out torsion bar suspension across its model lines in 1957, the idea of using torsion bars for steering/suspension systems started early in automotive history. Prior to Chrysler’s introduction into torsion bars other manufacturers that had previously used it either in prototype or production cars included Citroen, Volkswagen, Packard, Morris Minor, Oxford, Hudson, Riley, and others.
Their strength and reliability also made torsion bars a natural fit for suspension components on tanks during World War II, and that same strength and reliability makes them a natural fit in many modern trucks and SUVs.
Torsion bars became the standard in most of the Chrysler makes after 1957. Named the “Torsion-Aire” suspension, it remained in most Chrysler makes until 1989, but continues to make appearances in their truck and SUV models. In 1971 Chrysler’s Torsion-Aire system was replaced by the Torsion-Quiet system, which added rubber cushions to isolate vibrations and noise.
As cars became smaller the torsion bar evolved again, with the Transverse Torsion Bar used from 1976–1989, then finally fell to the MacPherson strut in 1990 as the Chrysler automotive front suspension system.
Removing and replacing torsion bars can seem difficult, but actually the process can be easier than removing front coils. The primary issues most people run into are dirt and corrosion binding the components together. But classic car restorers have come to learn to deal with these conditions.
Applying heat is never a good idea when working with springs as they can lose their temper. It is best to use good penetrating oils and a little controlled force to remove stuck bars. We join Mark Simpson and Ross Kiehl in the shop to take us step-by-step through the process of removing a set of torsion bars, including demonstrating the use of a shop-made tool to remove stubborn bars without damaging them.