We all adore muscle cars, but the suspension on this 40+-year-old car just isn’t up to today’s standards, no matter how much we want it to be. There are numerous alternatives for improved suspension systems for popular vehicles such as Camaros and Mustangs. However, when it comes to less popular cars or, as in my case, simply wanting something different, you have the option of creating your own. While the majority of the suspension on my ’67 Cougar is shared with the fully supported mustang, I opted to go a step farther than simply bolting on a suspension package. Leaves weren’t going to cut it with the aims I had for the car, and most aftermarket suspension packages were hampered by the flexible unibody chassis. Rather than just adding bracing here and there, I decided to go all out and create a whole new frame for the car. This gave me a clean slate on which to develop my own adjustable 3-link rear suspension. It will use a watts link and adjustable coil-overs to keep the rear end where it needs to be. But, for the time being, we’ll concentrate on the three-link construction.
How to Build a Homemade 3 Link
Most vendors provide a plethora of alternatives for various sorts of suspension links. I elected to make my heavy-strength Chromoly links for my car. I utilized 3″-16 weld-in bungs, both right and left hand. These bungs are designed to fit a one-inch inner diameter tube. Other sizes are available for a variety of applications. I also purchased 6 34″ Chromoly Heim joints, for the right-hand threads and for the left-hand threads, to go with the bungs. These Chromoly Heims joints are the strongest and most durable available. They will undoubtedly accept all of the power I can hurl at them! I also bought a pack of jam nuts, both right-hand and left-hand.
Because neither the Heims nor the bungs are labeled, I use a sharpie to mark LH or RH on them as I take them out of their packages. You should ensure that each link has one right and one left end. To begin, you must determine the exact length of each assembled link. In my situation, the suspension was intended to use links that were 28 inches long from pivot to pivot. I wanted to take a few measurements before cutting the 1 14″ x.120″ wall Chromoly tubing to length. The first step was to determine the length of the weld-in bung. In this example, they were exactly 1 inch apart.
Next, thread a jam nut about two-thirds of the way onto the Heim’s joint and measure the distance between the jam nut and the center of the hole. This distance is 2 inches for a 34″ hem. This means that the Heims and bungs take up three inches of space per side. I needed to cut a 22-inch piece of tubing for my 28-inch links.
If you’re using an abrasive saw like me, you’ll have a lot of burrs left behind from the cutting process. To remove the burrs on the interior and outside, I like to use a 90-degree air grinder with a 2″ roloc sanding disc and a hand deburring tool. After removing the burrs, I used a Scotchbrite disc to remove the mill from each end of the tube. This will assist in keeping contaminants out of the weld.
With the tube prepared, all that remained was a quick wipe down with acetone before firing up my welder. Make sure to clean the weld bungs as well. These will generally have a rust prevention oil on them that, if not removed, will damage the weld quality. Because I’m using a TIG welder, there’s little to no space between the tube and the bung. If you’re going to MIG weld these, I recommend beveling the end of the tube so that your welds may penetrate completely. If you are unsure about your welding talents, find a friend who is or take them to a professional.
Add a few minor tack welds to each bung and then double-check your length before welding the bung in place. If you have the option, I would assemble and install them to ensure that everything is in working order before welding entirely. I didn’t have that luxury because I didn’t yet have my back-end housing. I could only hang my brackets and wished I had a rear-end housing to weld them too!
My first suspension link was completed after only a few minutes of welding. Some sanding with a ScotchBrite pad and the link is ready to paint or powder coat.