When you've operated a successful business for more than 45 years, chances are good everyone will know your name. Such is the case with the name Kugel, as in Kugel Komponents, which is most widely known for building independent front and rear suspension systems for hot rods.

But that wasn't always the case because before Jerry Kugel started his business in 1969, he was a mechanic and machinist who liked to solve problems. Working on a basket-case 1932 roadster that he'd purchased for $1,000, he wanted to install a Ford motor but didn't want to cut up the pristine firewall. He saw that if the shaft in the stock Ford water pump could be cut down, it would fit so the firewall wouldn't need to be cut and, once an article by Bud Bryan appeared in Rod & Custom magazine showing how he'd done it, Kugel found himself in business modifying water pumps.

But another aspect of Kugel's roadster caught people's attention. Kugel also noticed how, with its caged design, a rear independent suspension system from a Jaguar could fit under a Deuce roadster as a complete unit, and soon others wanted IRS systems for their cars, too. As supplies for vintage Jag suspensions started to dwindle, Kugel started making his own machined components for 9-inch-based independent rearends from blocks of aluminum, and soon another facet of Kugel Komponents was firmly entrenched.

Throughout the past 40-plus years, Kugel Komponents has shied away from doing repair on rodder's vehicles, mostly because they didn't have the time or space needed to devote to it. But more recently they've opened their doors to all sorts of repairs, from engine replacement to brake problems, overheating to electrical problems.

But STREET RODDER was there when one hot rodder approached the Kugels with a unique problem. The traditional-inspired Deuce roadster he'd recently finished didn't ride as nice as he wanted (he called it a "buckboard"), so much so his wife refused to go for rides with him. After racking up 3,000 miles in his highboy, he was really ready for a smoother ride.

This roadster had a one-off rear suspension that turned out to be the culprit. Its concept—a rocker-arm design with coilover shocks that were laid over—was good in theory but not in this application. Because of the space restrictions under the highboy, the parts didn't have enough room to rock, so their binding caused an uncomfortable ride.

The solution was some R&R or, more simply, remove and replace. The Kugels showed the owner how one of their IRS systems, which is sold as a finished and complete unit, could be installed and they guaranteed he'd get a better ride out of it. Sold on the idea, the owner also took advantage of Kugel Komponents opening their shop doors for them to do the work.

This installation was going to be a drive in and drive out repair. But with this particular car, some other areas also needed to be addressed. The Kugels normally use 28-inch-tall tires with the car they set up, but the owner wanted to retain his 32-inchers to keep the look he'd developed for the car. Kugel will make their IRS systems in varied widths (52-62 inches, in 1 inch increments) so they built this one to spec. Also, because the IRS' width changed during the swap, the backspacing on the wheels needed to be modified to keep the overall look of the car the same.

Once the work was completed, the ride was so vastly improved, both the owner and his wife didn't have any complaints at all about the ride and, as any hot rodder knows, that is a situation every rodder would like to be in!

Kugel Komponents
La Habra
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