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Go Back   Squarebirds, Rocketbirds, and Fifties/Sixties Ford Discussion Forum > 1958 To 1960 Thunderbirds - General Technical Discussion > 1958 To 1960 Squarebirds - General Technical Discussion
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View Poll Results: Are you having trouble finding performance suspension parts?
yes 4 66.67%
no 2 33.33%
Voters: 6. You may not vote on this poll

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  #1  
Old 07-19-2012, 04:30 PM
Superspy Matt Helm Superspy Matt Helm is offline
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Default 1960 Thunderbird Performance Restomod-Help

I have a 1960 Thunderbird convertible with the plain jane 352.
Having much trouble finding "any" performance suspension parts. What I "want" to do is: Front Suspension - Tubular Upper & Lower A-Arms, 2" drop spindles, performance variable rate springs, super duper adjustable shocks, 11-13" disc brakes, adjustible rate performance antisway bar, heavy duty ball joints, tie rods etc. Rear Suspension - Performance Leaf springs, super duper adjustable shocks, cantilever style traction bars, Hellweg adjustable super antisway bar, performance rear end, 11-13" disc brakes, etc.
At least that's my fantasy. I have spent many frustrating hours on the internet looking for parts. I found something close to nothing. The only thing I can think of next is to contact manufacturers like TCP, Hellweg, RideTech, Magnum Force Racing, Hotchkis, Chassisworks, Detroit Speed, etc, etc add nauseum, directly and see if they could come up with something which I'm sure they could but would be Yahoo expensive. What gives? The 1960 Thunderbird was the original "sport" touring automobile. I'm sure with a little help this thing could drive and corner with the best of them, even modern muscle cars. Anyone have any suggestions?
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  #2  
Old 07-19-2012, 06:21 PM
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jopizz jopizz is offline
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Squarebirds were known as "Personal Luxury Cars", not performance cars. Although they were used in NASCAR in 1959 they were quickly replaced by the Galaxies. Most companies that supply those items are making them for cars that have a performance pedigree. Thunderbirds never had that appeal and probably never will.

John
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  #3  
Old 07-19-2012, 06:48 PM
Superspy Matt Helm Superspy Matt Helm is offline
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Thanks John but I am sure I read the same books you did including the restoration guide and there was some "sport" in there some place. I like to focus on the sport. Any ideas for performance part suppliers?
Thanks
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  #4  
Old 07-19-2012, 07:31 PM
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Dakota Boy Dakota Boy is online now
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Seems to me you are looking for Parnelli Jones Boss 302 Mustang-type of handling in a Squarebird.

That's a pretty tall order, but the thicker the wallet, the more possibilities will present themselves.

I'd like my car to run high 11's in the 1/4, but my wallet is still too thin. Maybe someday.

Get yourself an extra-thick front sway bar for starters, and see how that helps with the cornering.

Where are you at in WI?
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  #5  
Old 07-19-2012, 08:02 PM
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I think the description of sport refers to the looks of the Thunderbird more than performance. As far as performance parts go I would look for parts that fit full size Fords and see if they can be adapted to fit squarebirds. If you are really serious you'll probably have to do a lot of experimenting and a lot of modifications.

John
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  #6  
Old 07-19-2012, 11:36 PM
Superspy Matt Helm Superspy Matt Helm is offline
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Thanks Guys! I really appreciate your advice! However, I am serious about the sport thing like a heart attack and not to nit pick because I respect your opinions but just a few tidbits. There was a 350 horsepower 352 V8 Interceptor option for the 1960 T-Bird. It was a 352 with solid lifters better cam intake etc and cast iron headers of all things! The 1968-1970 legendary 428 Cobrajet was only rated at 365 hp a decade later. Remember the 1963 Thunderbird Sport roadster? The word "Sport" is in the car manufacturers name so I think they did have more than luxery in mind 50 years ago and the funky cover for the rear seat was intended to make it a two seater sports car by the manufacturer. Also remember the tri-power 390s, remember Bob Taska of Taska Ford(largest Ford Dealer in America)? He snuck a 427 power train onto the production line and had a 1965 or 1966 Factory T-bird with a 427 (Fords greatest race engine), Nobody noticed because it bolted right in. He didn't do that for Luxery driving, etc. etc. These cars were most definitely intended for more than luxery liners by many many people including the designers. I really don't mean to offend rather I think you are selling your T-Birds short and I just want to open your mind to a more exciting world of T-Bird than the one you apparently subscribe to. Hop up that old T-Bird, she was meant to fly not sail. Anyone else out there, please add info about where to find performance suspension parts or any info about what other fords had same suspension and geometry for cross refference. I really don't know that much about all this, my friends and I used to Hot Rod cars in High School and everything has changed since then. It's a whole new exciting world and I am just beginning to catch up! Unfortunately I still can't figure out how to find performance suspension parts.
Thanks!
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  #7  
Old 07-20-2012, 02:14 AM
gaffney1951 gaffney1951 is offline
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Default Super Bird ...

As indicated above, unless your going road racing, heavy swaybars, good shocks (dual adjustables may make for bragging rights, but in the real world won't make any appreciable difference on these cars) and new stock front end components in conjuction with droped spindles and rear springs will make a huge difference. If your going to stick with a fairly stock 352, big brakes/wheels ($$$$) will make no appreciable difference other than cosmetically. I drive mine fairly hard, a buck plus in big sweepers, and not to shabby all things considered in the twisty's for what it is. If you want a true performance car, buy or build one. Not saying they can't run hard and well, but why re-invent the wheel. That being said, I have been considering seeing if I can make a Crown Vic alum. cross member, rack and pinion steering and police suspension setup work under my 60. Also a 500+hp fe built and ready to drop in if I ever get caught up. Of course one must take into account that my mother repeatedly reminded me that I had often been dropped on my head as a young child. Mike
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Old 07-20-2012, 03:11 AM
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Jeff, I applaud your enthusiasm and tenacity. Certainly you are freely welcome to do whatever changes you wish with your ride.

Squarebirds are very familiar with 400-hp 430 MEL engines, straight from Wixom Assembly Plant with NO alterations. Does that make them sports or race cars? In my humble opinion, they are far too heavy. We go by horsepower - to Ė weight but nobody races diesel locomotives. Carroll Shelby didnít like the Ford lineup for his choice in competitive sports car bodies either, so he built his own aluminum body.

Even if we use Ford Racingís 700-hp engine w/a great powertrain the Squarebird body is far too heavy compared to a light and nimble Mustang. Yes, money will buy speed but diminishing returns sets in fast and at some point this car must be appreciated for what it really is, a very large cruiser with very few plastic parts and heavy gauge steel skins. The engine is all iron and not engineered for burning unleaded fuel regardless of octane. Consequently, we typically run our classic car engines on the rich side to prevent pre-ignition and to help cool the engine.

To make a Squarebird into a sports car would require a total unibody remake with much lighter bumpers and trim, modern suspension, modern brakes, and a total powertrain retrofit. Thatís a funny car, not the unique and beautifully chromed cruiser that turns heads, everywhere. - Dave
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  #9  
Old 07-20-2012, 08:52 AM
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I am enjoying my adventure of making my car fast but unlike you Jeff I am not concerned with cornering. I put the heavy sway bar on the front and the old shocks and bushings have been replaced but not upgraded. It's easier to make it go fast in a straight line
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  #10  
Old 07-20-2012, 10:23 AM
Superspy Matt Helm Superspy Matt Helm is offline
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Thanks for the vote of confidence Restifier52! I think Dave and Mike are seeing the potential but are blinded by their ideas of what the T-bird "should" be. Just so Dave doesn't write off his hot rod t-bird, here is a little fact: The 2010 Camero weighs in at 3,200 lbs. My 1960 T-Bird convertible weighs in at around 3,800. There is no weight difference there that would require a new platform for excitement. We need to deal with reality, not myth. Just because a car is old, doesn't necessarily mean it is a fatty. I am amazed at the resistance to upgrading and updating a very successful platform that was originally intended to go fast around corners bringing it up to modern muscle car standards. The best handling cars I have ever driven have been the ZR1 Corvettes. The problem is that they are too small. It's like driving a motorcycle around, there's hardly room for groceries and certainly not a wife and kids. And I don't evan like the look of corvettes except maybe the 1958 but that is too small. They are ok but I don't evan really like the look of mustangs. What I really like is my 1960 Thunderbird Convertible in Black. For the 1960 body style black is "the" color that sets off the style of the car. Drop the front end, raise the rear, add some meats and a Genesis or Dove FE 427 cross bolted mains side oiler race block, which will bolt right in by the way (just ask Bob Taska), and you have one tough muscle car! Just so Dave knows, a 1969 Mustang weighs in around 3,200 lbs too. Not exactly light and nimble. However, I did not intend this thread to be a discussion of the merits of upgrading and updating the suspension on my 1960 Thunderbird. That decision has already been made. I am just looking for any information on performance suspension parts because it seems like pulling teeth to find suspension parts. I have seen performance variable rate front coil springs, I know there are many adjustible sway bars that will fit, I saw a web site that had performance leaf springs and I am sure I can find super duper shocks, which by the way are the brains of your suspension and much more important to handling than most people think. You should be spending 100s of dollars, not 10's of dollars on shocks. The problem is: drop spindles (not granada spindles), Upper and Lower A-Arms/Control Arms, Ball Joints and Tie rods. Please no more discussion on the "merits" and "wisdom" of upgrading T-Bird suspensions however well intended it is. If you want to roll around in your T-bird I'm all for it. Just remember those suspension parts you are rolling around in are about 50 years old unless you have replaced them and I don't mean the ball joints and rubber parts, I mean the actual metal of your control arms. You can't see stress cracks in the lower control arms unless you do a very careful inspection and then you can't be sure. Why not upgrade them while you are replacing them so your family can still drive safely with you to the drive in (we still have those here in Wisconsin)?
Thanks!
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