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1967 Ford Mustang Alignment Correction - The Car Craft Mustang TA

Bent but not broken-early Mustang shock-tower rehab and alignment tricks.

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Car crafting is all about resurrecting an older car and putting the tune to it. Some cars have a decent foundation from which to start the process, while others0 need a little more help. The first-two-generation Mustangs from '64 through the early '70s used stamped-steel shock towers held together by a few factory tack welds. We doubt the Ford engineers at the time even considered that any of those cars would still be around as drivers 40-odd years later, but here we are.

Enter Car Craft's grandma-gnashed '67 Mustang that we plan to turn into a canyon carver. While we fantasized about chicks digging us behind the wheel of a Trans Am/Jerry Titus-look-alike boulevard scorcher, the reality was the front suspension needed more than a couple of new parts. It was going to take something just short of divine intervention to resuscitate this bruised cruiser. Former CC staffer Terry McGean and fellow Mustang and Fords staffer Miles Cook turned us on to a guy who could straighten our act out and help us get it back on the road. It would take some serious hydraulic ram work and even some welding before we could get cozy with the alignment gods, but it all came together rather easily once we learned the secret to early Mustang front-suspension success.

Bent But Not Broken
Our first thought was to bolt a bunch of new Global West Suspension parts on our little ponycar and be done with it. But after a quick lesson in Mustang front-suspension sheetmetal fatigue, we learned we needed help from someone with chassis-tweaking experience, so we delivered our notchback Mustang to chassis man Marlon Mitchell at Marlo's Frame & Alignment in Chatsworth, California.

It was clear from a quick visual inspection that our Mustang was suffering from a classic case of SSTS (separated shock-tower syndrome). This is where the upper control arm shock-tower plates that are spot-welded to the rest of the sheetmetal front clip have started to pull apart. According to Marlon, all the early Mustangs do this-some are just more bent than others. In radical cases, the sheetmetal will actually rip apart. All this is the result of normal, everyday driving when impact loads from potholes tend to gradually bend the thin tin that holds this car together. When this happens, the separated plate pulls the upper control arm inboard, creating increasingly more negative camber. Our Mustang had pulled apart very badly on the left (driver) side, so that's where Marlon started his repair.

You might think all you have to do is wield a big hammer and beat that mounting plate back in place. But this is not the best plan. It's not even a good plan. Instead, Marlon dragged out a hydraulic ram that he uses to force the top of the spindle to bend the sheetmetal back into its original place. We watched him force the upper part of the spindle with the ram, and the amount the spindle moved was shocking-at least 3/4 to 1 inch before both sides of the shock-tower panel were properly repositioned.

Once the shock tower is forced back in its proper position with the ram holding it in place, Marlon MIG-welded the support and the shock-tower sheetmetal together at the seam. This radically improves the strength of the design over the original factory spot-welds. Once Marlon had welded all four seams on both sides, the front alignment gained what looked like 3 to 5 degrees of positive camber. That's how much the sheetmetal had deformed over the years. Now we were ready to swap in all the trick new Global West Suspension pieces. Since this step is also something we will detail, we're going to skip over that portion, saving it for next month's installment.

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