Chassis

Brake Selection

After cruising around in the '64 GT for six years, I have come to the realization, that I really hate those 9" brakes. They fail with regularity and they need to be "dried off" when you go thru puddles. You need to plan your stops well in advance, and lord help you, if you need to do a panic stop! There was more then one occasion that I drove home using the parking brakes to stop.

With that in mind a brake upgrade is essential. There are several ways to go in this upgrade. Here is the list.

  • Install a set of 10" drums from a '66 to '72 A-body.
  • Install a set of disk brakes from a '66 to '72 A-body.
  • Install a set of 10" drums from a any B-body up to '72.
  • Install a set of disk brakes from a '73 to '76 A-body.

The first option is relatively easy. Find a '66 to '72 A-body with the requisite set of brakes. You would need to swap the spindle, backing plates and drums. The current A-arms, master cylinder and brake lines will work just fine, if they were in good shape to begin with. While these are good brakes, they have the small bolt pattern. I plan on upgrading to the 4.5" pattern.

The second option of upgrading to the '66 thru '72 style of disk brakes has some problems. This was not a common option. The parts are hard to find and they are expensive to repair. Stainless Steel Brakes will be more then happy to sell you a set for close to $1000. You will need to find a donor car and take the spindle, backing plates, calibers, rotors, master cylinder and distribution unit. This will give you a great set of brakes with the 4" bolt pattern.

The third option is interesting. If you wanted to retain the stock looking appearance of you car, and greatly improve your braking this could be a way to go. The brakes on the B-bodies were either 10x2.5" or 11x3.0". Both sizes are a considerable improvement over the stock 9x1.75" brakes. To make this work you will need the upper A-arms from a '73 to '76 A-body (disk brake only), a '66 to '72 B-body or a '70 to '74 E-body. These, along with the spindles, backing plates and drums from either a B-body or E-body will give you decent brakes with the desired 4.5" bolt pattern.

Since I really wanted a set of disk brakes and the desired the 4.5" bolt pattern, I choose to use the '73 to '76 A-body disk brake setup. My particular set came from the Dart parts car. I used the upper and lower A-arms, the spindles, backing plates, rotors, strut rods and calibers from the donor. The distribution block is from a '73 A-body. I used the '73 piece because a knowledgeable person had tried different blocks from several other years, including 1/2 ton pickups, and this one worked the best. I used an aluminum master cylinder from a '80 Volare with manual disk brakes. The rubber bushings in the upper and lower control arms were replaced with new ones. The strut rod bushing is using polyurethane. The rational for the mix and match is that Chrysler designed the bushing for the upper and lower control arms to help center them in there mounting locations. All of the polyurethane replacements do not maintain this relationship when installed.

Axle Selection

Since the front suspension has been upgraded to disk brakes and the 5x4.5 bolt pattern, the rear suspension needed a face lift. That old 7.25" rear axle had to go!

This leads to some deep thought. I have several possible choices to make for this selection. They are as follows:

  • A 8.25" axle from a '73 to '76 A-body.
  • A 8.75" axle from a '66 to '72 A-body.
  • A 8.75" axle from a '65 B-body.
  • A cut down 8.75" axle from any C-body or Pickup Truck.
  • A 8" Ford axle from a mid '70s Monarch/Granada.
  • A 8.75" Ford axle from a mid '70s Monarch/Granada.
  • A 8.8" Ford axle from a late '80s, early '90s Explorer.
  • A 9" Ford axle from a mid '70s Monarch/Granada

The Ford axles are 1" wider then the Mopar axles and have the desired 4.5" bolt pattern. All but the 8.8" have the same spring perch spacing. The 8" and 9" would be a good alternative, especially since the Street Rod crowd has taken a shine to them. Lots of aftermarket parts and kits are available for these axles. The 8.8" is popular with the Mustang crowd and the Explorer has rear disk brakes. Avoid the 8.75" axle like the plague. Nobody makes aftermarket gears for this axle, even Ford has disavowed all knowledge of this axle. You would need to use a Ford to Mopar adapter U-Joint or a custom built drive shaft.

The 8.75" axle from an '66 to '72 A-body will fit and is the preferred heavy duty unit. But it has the small bolt pattern. This problem would be solved with the '65 B-body axle. The axles from a C-body or a 1/2 ton pickup can be cut down and used. But the overall width increases by 1.5", which is to much for the tight confines of the '65s rear wheel wells. You could redrill the axle flanges and brake drums, but this leads to a new set of problems with the bolts being to close to the edge of the axle flanges.

A cut down 8.75" axle from a C-body or 1/2 ton pickup truck could be used. As long as the overall length is 6" greater then the A-body (you need to remove at least 3" from the axles shafts so they can be resplined). This would give you the correct bolt pattern and the larger 10x2.5" brakes. But the cost of having the axles cut and resplined is more then the purchase price of an 8.25" axle.

For this swap, I will be using the 8.25", 2.45 geared axle from the donor car. It is more then strong enough to handle the expected power from the engine. It bolts in and it has the correct 4.5" bolt pattern. It will also be matched to the front disk brakes. This axle also weight about 70lbs less then the 8.75", which is important from a handling standpoint. I will have to shorten the drive shaft to fit this axle and chassis combination.

Front T-Bar Selection

The T-bars have been on this car since new. The \6 bars are great for a strip only car, but I plan on driving this beast on the street, taking trips to far off and exotic locales. You know, drive around and enjoy myself. Since that is the goal, the T-bars were replaced with the ones from the donor car. Nothing fancy, but it will get the job done and I don't mind the firmer ride.

Rear Spring Selection

The 4 leaf rear springs have been on this car since new. They don't appear to be sagging, but they certainly need to be updated. I replaced them with five leaf heavy duty replacements. I know this isn't the trickiest setup, but it will get the job done. The new springs were installed with a set of polyurethane bushings.

Front Sway Bar

Since this was a stripper \6 car. It did not come with any sway bars. Since one of the goals of this project is to improve the handling of the car I decided to use the front sway bar from the donor car. Since the '75s sway bar ran thru the k-member this required modification to the current one in the '65.

Rear Sway Bar

The various opinions around the net is that I might not need one.

Shock Selection

Over the years I have used many different types of shocks. On this car I will use Monroe gas shocks. They seem to work fine.

Rims and Tires

To select which front tires I wanted to use. I collected several different sizes of rims. After the disk brakes were installed and before the T-bars were mounted. I took each rim and bolted it to the rotor and used a floor jack to raise the suspension up to were the tire would sit. I tried a set of 15x5.5, a set of 15x6.0 and a set of 15x6.5. When finished I liked how the 15x5.5 rims looked in the wheel wells. I then mounted a set of P205/60 tires on the rims and did the same test. Everything looked just right, so I will be running a set of P205s on the front.

After much head scratching, measuring and just sitting around and pondering. I have decided to use 15x7 Chrysler Cordoba rims on the rear. These will be complemented with a pair of P235/60 tires. In my past experience with A-bodys, I have found that too much tire, makes the rear extremely light and squirrelly in the rain ('71 Demon with P295/50s on 15x10 rims). I live in a state noted for its wet weather, so I guess the P235/60s are wide enough. Even thou thoughts of those 295/50s have danced thru my head.

Brake Selection

After cruising around in the '64 GT for six years, I have come to the realization, that I really hate those 9" brakes. They fail with regularity and they need to be "dried off" when you go thru puddles. You need to plan your stops well in advance, and lord help you, if you need to do a panic stop! There was more then one occasion that I drove home using the parking brakes to stop.

With that in mind a brake upgrade is essential. There are several ways to go in this upgrade. Here is the list.

  • Install a set of 10" drums from a '66 to '72 A-body.
  • Install a set of disk brakes from a '66 to '72 A-body.
  • Install a set of 10" drums from a any B-body up to '72.
  • Install a set of disk brakes from a '73 to '76 A-body.

The first option is relatively easy. Find a '66 to '72 A-body with the requisite set of brakes. You would need to swap the spindle, backing plates and drums. The current A-arms, master cylinder and brake lines will work just fine, if they were in good shape to begin with. While these are good brakes, they have the small bolt pattern. I plan on upgrading to the 4.5" pattern.

The second option of upgrading to the '66 thru '72 style of disk brakes has some problems. This was not a common option. The parts are hard to find and they are expensive to repair. Stainless Steel Brakes will be more then happy to sell you a set for close to $1000. You will need to find a donor car and take the spindle, backing plates, calibers, rotors, master cylinder and distribution unit. This will give you a great set of brakes with the 4" bolt pattern.

The third option is interesting. If you wanted to retain the stock looking appearance of you car, and greatly improve your braking this could be a way to go. The brakes on the B-bodies were either 10x2.5" or 11x3.0". Both sizes are a considerable improvement over the stock 9x1.75" brakes. To make this work you will need the upper A-arms from a '73 to '76 A-body (disk brake only), a '66 to '72 B-body or a '70 to '74 E-body. These, along with the spindles, backing plates and drums from either a B-body or E-body will give you decent brakes with the desired 4.5" bolt pattern.

Since I really wanted a set of disk brakes and the desired the 4.5" bolt pattern, I choose to use the '73 to '76 A-body disk brake setup. My particular set came from the Dart parts car. I used the upper and lower A-arms, the spindles, backing plates, rotors, strut rods and calibers from the donor. The distribution block is from a '73 A-body. I used the '73 piece because a knowledgeable person had tried different blocks from several other years, including 1/2 ton pickups, and this one worked the best. I used an aluminum master cylinder from a '80 Volare with manual disk brakes. The rubber bushings in the upper and lower control arms were replaced with new ones. The strut rod bushing is using polyurethane. The rational for the mix and match is that Chrysler designed the bushing for the upper and lower control arms to help center them in there mounting locations. All of the polyurethane replacements do not maintain this relationship when installed.

Axle Selection

Since the front suspension has been upgraded to disk brakes and the 5x4.5 bolt pattern, the rear suspension needed a face lift. That old 7.25" rear axle had to go!

This leads to some deep thought. I have several possible choices to make for this selection. They are as follows:

  • A 8.25" axle from a '73 to '76 A-body.
  • A 8.75" axle from a '66 to '72 A-body.
  • A 8.75" axle from a '65 B-body.
  • A cut down 8.75" axle from any C-body or Pickup Truck.
  • A 8" Ford axle from a mid '70s Monarch/Granada.
  • A 8.75" Ford axle from a mid '70s Monarch/Granada.
  • A 8.8" Ford axle from a late '80s, early '90s Explorer.
  • A 9" Ford axle from a mid '70s Monarch/Granada

The Ford axles are 1" wider then the Mopar axles and have the desired 4.5" bolt pattern. All but the 8.8" have the same spring perch spacing. The 8" and 9" would be a good alternative, especially since the Street Rod crowd has taken a shine to them. Lots of aftermarket parts and kits are available for these axles. The 8.8" is popular with the Mustang crowd and the Explorer has rear disk brakes. Avoid the 8.75" axle like the plague. Nobody makes aftermarket gears for this axle, even Ford has disavowed all knowledge of this axle. You would need to use a Ford to Mopar adapter U-Joint or a custom built drive shaft.

The 8.75" axle from an '66 to '72 A-body will fit and is the preferred heavy duty unit. But it has the small bolt pattern. This problem would be solved with the '65 B-body axle. The axles from a C-body or a 1/2 ton pickup can be cut down and used. But the overall width increases by 1.5", which is to much for the tight confines of the '65s rear wheel wells. You could redrill the axle flanges and brake drums, but this leads to a new set of problems with the bolts being to close to the edge of the axle flanges.

A cut down 8.75" axle from a C-body or 1/2 ton pickup truck could be used. As long as the overall length is 6" greater then the A-body (you need to remove at least 3" from the axles shafts so they can be resplined). This would give you the correct bolt pattern and the larger 10x2.5" brakes. But the cost of having the axles cut and resplined is more then the purchase price of an 8.25" axle.

For this swap, I will be using the 8.25", 2.45 geared axle from the donor car. It is more then strong enough to handle the expected power from the engine. It bolts in and it has the correct 4.5" bolt pattern. It will also be matched to the front disk brakes. This axle also weight about 70lbs less then the 8.75", which is important from a handling standpoint. I will have to shorten the drive shaft to fit this axle and chassis combination.

Front T-Bar Selection

The T-bars have been on this car since new. The \6 bars are great for a strip only car, but I plan on driving this beast on the street, taking trips to far off and exotic locales. You know, drive around and enjoy myself. Since that is the goal, the T-bars were replaced with the ones from the donor car. Nothing fancy, but it will get the job done and I don't mind the firmer ride.

Rear Spring Selection

The 4 leaf rear springs have been on this car since new. They don't appear to be sagging, but they certainly need to be updated. I replaced them with five leaf heavy duty replacements. I know this isn't the trickiest setup, but it will get the job done. The new springs were installed with a set of polyurethane bushings.

Front Sway Bar

Since this was a stripper \6 car. It did not come with any sway bars. Since one of the goals of this project is to improve the handling of the car I decided to use the front sway bar from the donor car. Since the '75s sway bar ran thru the k-member this required modification to the current one in the '65.

Rear Sway Bar

The various opinions around the net is that I might not need one.

Shock Selection

Over the years I have used many different types of shocks. On this car I will use Monroe gas shocks. They seem to work fine.

Rims and Tires

To select which front tires I wanted to use. I collected several different sizes of rims. After the disk brakes were installed and before the T-bars were mounted. I took each rim and bolted it to the rotor and used a floor jack to raise the suspension up to were the tire would sit. I tried a set of 15x5.5, a set of 15x6.0 and a set of 15x6.5. When finished I liked how the 15x5.5 rims looked in the wheel wells. I then mounted a set of P205/60 tires on the rims and did the same test. Everything looked just right, so I will be running a set of P205s on the front.

After much head scratching, measuring and just sitting around and pondering. I have decided to use 15x7 Chrysler Cordoba rims on the rear. These will be complemented with a pair of P235/60 tires. In my past experience with A-bodys, I have found that too much tire, makes the rear extremely light and squirrelly in the rain ('71 Demon with P295/50s on 15x10 rims). I live in a state noted for its wet weather, so I guess the P235/60s are wide enough. Even thou thoughts of those 295/50s have danced thru my head.