How many times have we cast our eyes upon a pristine custom truck sitting pretty at a show 'n' shine with its incredible body mods and covered in a beautiful paint scheme with endless coats of clear? Peering inside the cab we are mesmerized by the magnificent dcor and overwhelming audio sound components complete with a DVD unit and multiple monitors grafted into the dash, headrests, and headliner. Opening the hood, our pupils constrict, due to the engine accents and polished billet aluminum and chrome jewels reflecting their shimmering beauty. Everything that is in sight above the truck's rocker panels is high show quality.
Just as important is what's underneath the truck, including its frame and suspension. Not only do the frame and suspension components support the truck's weight, they are also responsible for ride quality, ride height (stance), and handling performance.
We have noticed an increase in classic truck frame and suspension technology being implemented into a truck's character and true identity. It seems some builders are scrapping the original truck frames and fabricating newly re-designed frames, either with rectangular or tubular framerails, while using innovative suspension designs, such as both IFS and IRS (independent front and independent rear suspension). Conventional rear suspensions have been refined with reconfigured suspension pick-up points, featuring four-link, three-link, and wishbone designs, using a Panhard bar and sway bars, front and rear. These suspension improvements have dramatically increased the early model truck's handling, performance characteristics, and ride quality. In addition, combining the new suspension geometry with pneumatic 'bagged systems slams the truck's rockers on the ground.
We have learned from speaking with many of the leading custom truck and chassis builders that first-time customers want all the creature comforts of current new '04-'05 daily drivers, featuring A/C, electric seats, electric windows, auto door locks, cruise control, DVD player with monitors, and even GPS - don't forget the heated seats. The ride quality must also be in tune with all the cushy comforts, in contrast to the buckboard, kidney-bustin' ride quality of the early classic trucks.
Aftermarket suspension components have come a long way from the days of the Bell drop front axles with kingpin, and '37-'48 Ford spindles with '40 Ford backing plates mated with Buick wide-finned brake drums.