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INSTALLING A HEIDTS® FRONT SUSPENSION IN A ‘35-‘40 CHASSIS
We were talking to fellow street rodder Bob O’Bryant the other day and he told us that he just purchased a ’40 coupe that he knew about since the early ’60s. The car changed hands a few times, but none of the owners did anything with it. Since the ’40 spent most of its time garaged, the body was straight and the chassis was in great condition. The minute the car was on the market, O’Bryant jumped at the chance to buy it.
We asked him what his plans were and he replied, “The usual.” In the old days, that would have been a dropped front axle and a hot Flathead, but today it’s quite a different story. “The usual” is actually an independent front suspension with a parallel-leaf spring rear suspension and a small-block Chevy engine backed by a Turbo 350 transmission. That’s the econo approach.
O’Bryant said he ordered a HEIDTS® front suspension because he was happy with the one under his Model A Ford. We asked him if we could photograph the installation and he was more than happy to let us do a step-by-step story. The front and rear suspension system is exactly what we have on a ’40 coupe, so we told him that he would be pleased with his decision.
Ford used the same chassis from 1935 to 1940 on passenger cars and until 1941 on pickup trucks, so the installation is universal for anyone with a car that falls into that category. The install is pretty straightforward if you can follow directions, but it does require welding skill and a few special tools. You will need a MIG welder, 5-inch hand grinder, large 1/2-inch-chuck drill motor, large hand grinder, tape measure and a variety of normal hand tools. The installation took about a day and a half to finish and it was fairly easy to accomplish.
O’Bryant knew that the suspension would be almost impossible to see under the ’40, so he ordered a kit that could be painted or powdercoated. Chromeplating or polished stainless would never be seen. He also ordered the kit with GM-style front brakes because he is familiar with how well they work.
If you have been planning an independent front suspension conversion on your Ford, this story will show you how it’s done. The body has been removed from the frame and it was sandblasted, making the conversion clean and easy, but if you have a running car, it could be done by removing the front clip and engine. SRB