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66 Chevy II, Pontiac powered; 68 &75 Firebirds
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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I have always wondered why the front suspension upgrade for the first and second gen Novas were called the Mustang II. I believe the Mustangs were downsized and called Mustang II in 1974. The original Nova suspension looked almost like a Macpherson strut. The Mac strut is a widely used modern front suspension. I think it started in the mid eighties, or maybe when front wheel drive cars appeared. So, as most modern cars are using the Mac strut, why was something like that not designed for the early Nova's?
I searched for a picture of what the actual front suspension on a Mustang II looked like. I mostly got the retrofit version made by various companies. I sorta found one though. The M II suspension is basically a suspension with a pair of frame rails with a crossmember under the engine. Each side has an upper and lower control arm with ball joints supporting a spindle. There is a spring inboard of the spindle running from the lca to the frame, with a shock running through the spring.
I have mostly had GM cars in the 70's. The basic description above is what these cars were equipped with. With our Novas being GM why was the a-arm suspension called an Mustang II and not say an X, F or G body suspension or simply A-arm suspension?
Various companies are upping the engineering on the MII suspension and saying it is a new design and no longer called an MII. However, when you look beyond the fancy engineering upgrade, they are still two frame rails, with a crossmember under the engine, an upper and lower control arm with ball joints supporting a spindle and a spring and shock (coil overs, but still a spring and shock) from the lca to the frame.
 

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The Mustang II suspension be it what Ford delivered in Pinto and Mustangs or the aftermarket versions that are abundantly available for all types of vehicle application today have obviously clear differences from what GM was putting out. The basic geometry is hands down better then any A, F, X, or G body design that was available from GM. Add to this the rack and pinion steering and there’s no comparison. GM had a very conservative underlying premise for the front suspensions in passenger cars and that was that under steering was the path to safety. So their designs really didn’t deviate much from that philosophy until the 80’s with the ‘82 Camaro which went to a lower A-arm and strut design. The problem with struts is that negative camber gain is not really possible as it is with upper and lower control arms.. The basic Mustang II design has better control arm placement which induces better negative camber gain. The simplicity of the MII formula makes it a simple design to adapt to a variety of vehicles as an aftermarket replacement. The compact control arm and spring pocket layout leaves a lot of room in a cramped engine bay which makes room for engines and accessories. Eliminating the steering box from the engine bay and you shed a pretty good chunk of weight as well.. The after market Mustang II style suspensions have a lot of benefits that make it hard to argue against and it remains a staple of the hot rodding world today..
 

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Serious southern boy living in Jax Fl.
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The first guys to use the Mustang II front suspensions used everything from the upper and lower A arms to the 9" rotors, today even the spindles can be different. The upper lower A arm design is superior to the strut when both are optimized but as GM would tell you price and packaging play a role. :rolleyes:
 
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