So now we had our wagon back on the ground, 3 inches lower than stock height, sitting like a tail-dragger, not a particularly good look for a Ranch Wagon. It was obvious the front end would have to come down for the proper look. To that end a call was made to Fatman Fabrications and sure enough, right there on the shelf was a set of 2-1/2-inch dropped spindles for the 1957-59 Ford. We added new 1970-77 Camaro calipers and 1975-80 Granada rotors to the package and we had all-new brakes, bearings, hoses, and a lower stance.
Another set of adjustable aluminum QA1 shocks up front would allow us to dial in the perfect ride. The stock front sway bar on the station wagon is quite beefy so we simply installed new Dennis Carpenter Ford Restoration Parts rubber bushings on the stock bar and the front suspension was complete. Subsequent test drives and QA1 shock adjustments would show that we had totally transformed the ride and handling of our 1957 Ford Ranch Wagon. It was an amazing improvement; we could hardly recognize this as the same car.
Bleeding the brakes got us back to the intended fluid changes and while we were under the car we drained the oil and added 5 fresh quarts of AMSOIL INC.'s finest to the engine. It was then we noticed the trickle of green in the front of the engine. Jeez, a Dennis Carpenter Ford Restoration Parts rebuilt water pump was ordered, we installed a new stainless steel Flex-a-lite mechanical flex fan sourced through Summit Racing. Then we had the original radiator professionally flushed and checked. Adding the new coolant to the radiator finally completed what we set about doing in the first place, complete fluid changes and basic maintenance, but now we have a much-improved car. Welcome to the wonderful world of hot rodding.
26. The sway bar brackets on the housing are held in place with a U-bolt and the droplink connects to the sway bar ends. By carefully test-fitting everything first when we drilled the holes in the frame everything fit perfectly.
27. We were really impressed with the compact fit of the rear Addco sway bar and pleased to see it mounted above the housing. And yes it did the job, we have no body rub in turns after installing the Addco bar.
28. The QA1 adjustable shock absorbers completely transformed the car, making it ride like a modern car. We spent some time adjusting the shocks and with the simple click of the adjuster wheel you can dial your suspension into the perfect ride.
29. The stock rear shocks are an unusual crossbar top and stud bottom design. QA1 does not offer a stud bottom body so we had to modify the lower spring plate to accept and eye-type mount. We marked the area to be removed.
30. Our trusty port-a-band made quick work on removing the unwanted portion of the lower spring plate.
31. We fabricated these two pieces from 1/4-inch stock and tack welded them in place for a test-fit. Once satisfied with the design we TIG welded the new pieces to the lower spring plate.
32. The modified lower spring plates were then bolted in place, once again clamping our Posies springs while providing a mounting surface for our aluminum-bodied QA1 shocks.
33. The top crossbar mounts fit to the stock crossmember while we installed two shock absorber studs in our custom spring plates to allow the QA1 shocks to bolt in place. Here is the completed rear suspension.
34. Since the Posies springs lowered the rear 3 inches lower than stock we wanted to drop the front the same amount. Happily Fatman Fabrications makes a 2-1/2-inch dropped spindle for mid-'50s Fords. After carefully removing the original spindle the new dropped spindle bolts in place.
35. We made a new brake line bracket so the flex hose would be pointing in the proper direction and have ample length for a full turning radius.
36. We sourced brand-new '70-77 Camaro calipers and '75-80 Granada rotors from out local parts store, giving us all-new components on the front brake system.
37. After the spindles were bolted in place the QA1 shocks were installed inside the coil springs. Face the adjuster knob toward the engine on the lower control arm for ease of adjustment.
38. The final step was to bleed the brakes with some AMSOIL INC. high-performance DOT 4 brake fluid. Notice the front chamber has been bled and the fluid is clear, while the rear chamber looks like coffee, a sure sign it needs to be changed. Brake fluid should be changed at least every two years.
39. And here's the finished installation, neat, clean, and simple our '57 Ranch Wagon now has a proper hot rod stance, all-new brakes, and a completely refurbished suspension.