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Jack Heideman
Jack Heideman New Reader
7/30/18 10:46 p.m.

My whole life I have always had foreign cars, but two years ago I decided I needed something American.  So what did I get? A 1967 Ford Falcon Wagon. It now has a late 70's truck 302 and a 4 speed toploader. I won't go into the backstory of the car now because my new plan is much more interesting. 

This all started just over two weeks ago when I was hanging with a couple buddies of mine talking about CAM. One of us mentioned the CAM Challenge coming up at Grissom and how much fun it would be to drive in. The only American car we had to run was my old Falcon. So naturally we dreampt up how we could build the car to "compete" but still keep it on a college kids budget.

Our plan was to put on some bigger wider wheels with sticky tires, bigger sway bars, fabricate a panhard bar, quicken up the steering, relocate the upper A-arm for the "Shelby Drop", replace the front suspension (I had new parts that came with the car) ,and if there was time maybe some new seats and a little weight reduction. Time is the limiting factor here. We decided on a goal for the car at Grissom of not last place. 

Here's the parts that came with the car:


After a little benchmarking trip to our good friend Bill Wiswedel who let us take some measurements off of his Shelby mustang we hit the ground running. The next weekend starting with fabricating a panhard bar and working on the Shelby Drop (lowering the upper A-arm to correct the suspension geometry).

We started by splitting up our work. Jarrett is a great fabricator and started on the panhard bar, Ross worked on machining a drill fixture for the Shelby Drop, and I worked on taking apart the front end in preparation for the suspension relocation. 

Here is the drill fixture bolted in and ready to go. All the shelby drop does is lowers the upper A-arm by 1". Supposedly it makes the car handle better for a million different reasons. Im no expert but I believe it raises the roll center and helps with the camber gain through suspension travel. 

Jarrett welded up the axle mount for the panhard bar. Notice the adjustment holes? We thought we should have a long range of adjustment because we didn't have enough time to fully understand how a panhard bar worked. What we think it does is helps the axle from shifting latterly in a corner along with adjusting the load at the tires depending on the angle the bar is at. 

The front suspension starting to be reassembled

The only other thing that was worked on that weekend was trying to figure out what wheels to run. My dads Civic had the same bolt pattern so we used that to baseline how to make some wider wheels fit. Our calculations showed that the widest we could fit is a 17x9 ET0. I'll keep everyone posted on if we were correct on the size or not. Its pretty wide for the stock fender up front. 

That finished the first weekend of work. Unfortunately we were all out of town the next two weekend so a lot had to be done on the week nights. 



Rufledt UberDork
7/30/18 11:00 p.m.

Race wagon!!!! i love it!!

Jack Heideman
Jack Heideman New Reader
7/30/18 11:11 p.m.

The following Monday we continued on the panhard bar. Jarrett finished up the axle mount so I started on the body mount. Once again we wanted a lot of adjustment here to allow more handling tuning. 

We drilled holes all throughout the mount to allow the option to go to a different adjustment incase for some reason I didn't already have enough. Plus we were going to use one to build a brace back to the body off of.

Next was the bar itself. My dad, Carl Heideman gave me a MGB front suspension bushing to use for the bar, along with a damaged lower A-Arm I cut up the bushing tube out of for the bar. 

As for the other end of the bar we wanted a rod end so we could adjust the length of the bar depending on what pair of holes the bar was set in. I probably could have ordered a weld in tube nut off of McMaster but as mentioned before I wanted to keep costs down as much as possible. It just so happened we had access to a lathe and some round stock lying around in Carls shop. 

After a lot of measuring for the correct length of the bar and a little bit of welding and the panhard bar was done! 

Here is it complete:

I forgot to grab a picture with the brace in so Ill have to add that in later. 



Jack Heideman
Jack Heideman New Reader
7/30/18 11:49 p.m.

The week after the panhard bar was built we started to tackle sway bars. I did some research and found a bar to buy off of summit. It was big and cheap ($150) so I thought it would work perfect for the car. I ended up with a 1.125 solid bar from a mustang.

I was hoping It would just bolt in the car but being from a Mustang it had small differences. The bar was a little too long to line up with the sway bar end link hole in the lower A-arm. My solution was to relocate the sway bar mounts about an inch towards the front of the car. 

The front bar was the easy part. I was feeling a little too cheap to buy a rear bar so Jarrett and I built one. 

Once again I started with some benchmarking off of Bills Shelby to get some rough dimensions. I pretty much copied his lengths of the bar except I extended the arms a little longer. The difference was that his car had a 5/8 OD sold bar and I didn't have any laying around the shop. I did find some 3/4 hollow steel sitting around and a Miata sway bar bushing that fit it quite well too!

We thought the bending route would be the easiest. It proved correct. We had everything but the end links done for this bar in one night. I let the inner engineer out of me and did the math to see how much stiffer the 3/4 hollow bar would be compared to a 5/8 solid. It looked like about twice as stiff. It's a big change but I am still using stock springs unlike Bills race car so hopefully the stiffer bar helps lessen the massive amount of body roll.

Here is the frame attachment mount. I just welded a couple nuts onto some spare C channel that fit the frame well. 

The end link mounts on the sway bar were pretty simple. We just added a bunch of holes for suspension tuning later down the road.

I went for the expensive route on end inks and bought McMaster tube weld in inserts for the sway bar end links.

I just finished up the sway bar tonight and forgot to take final pictures. I will try to add them in the next day or two.

Here is one of the bar tacked in place with the Miata sway bar bushing.  


Javelin GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
7/31/18 1:43 a.m.

Holy hell, I love this car and this build out of it! You guys are rocking it!

gumby GRM+ Memberand Reader
7/31/18 6:14 a.m.

Bitchin! See you at Grissom

GTXVette SuperDork
7/31/18 6:20 a.m.

Looks like ya'll were paying attention in shop class, Kudo's to the Teacher.

Donebrokeit SuperDork
7/31/18 6:23 a.m.

Looks like a good start. 

Floating Doc
Floating Doc GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
7/31/18 6:24 a.m.

I love Falcons, I love wagons!

This build is going to be fun to follow. Please keep the updates coming.

DeadSkunk PowerDork
7/31/18 7:21 a.m.

I've created a suitable sway bar by sawing off the ends of a junk yard find and welding on new ones with multiple adjustment holes. Once upon a time I could go to the local yards and find GM front bars from 7/8" to 1 and 1/4" in 1/8" increments. These were from RWD Impalas and Buicks. 2WD Ranger bars are simple shapes to use these days. 

Jack Heideman
Jack Heideman New Reader
7/31/18 8:19 a.m.


I wanted to walk through some junk yards looking for a bar that might fit. Unfortunately with my work hours and being gone the past two weekends I couldn't make it. I'm pretty confident I'll be iterating on the sway bars so maybe a junkyard bar is a better option.

I'm a little worried about the heat treating of the bar. I have heard of people heat treating home made sway bars with a torch so I might give that a try.  

I also would like to mention that I am not well educated in Falcon/Mustang performance parts so any useful tips would be appreciated.



914Driver MegaDork
7/31/18 8:40 a.m.

What sort of heat treating are you trying to accomplish?  Want to harden it or just release the stresses of the work done to it?



7/31/18 8:54 a.m.
Jack Heideman said:

 so any useful tips would be appreciated.

Might want to consider some structural reinforcement or a triangulation brace where your panhard bracket mounts to the frame.



Jack Heideman
Jack Heideman New Reader
7/31/18 9:13 a.m.

I wanted to release the stresses built up in it. I remember reading about Mark Donahue struggling with inconsistent car handling in one of his Trans-Am Camaro's. He found the issue to be a non heat treated sway bar.


I do have some triangulation in the panhard bar mount. I'll try to grab a picture later tonight.

DeadSkunk PowerDork
7/31/18 9:50 a.m.

In reply to Jack Heideman :

My Ranger bar was for a Miata, so you're on your own for the Falcon. wink

Joe Gearin
Joe Gearin Associate Publisher
7/31/18 10:08 a.m.

Love the thread Jack!  Looking forward to following along! 

stuart in mn
stuart in mn UltimaDork
7/31/18 10:58 a.m.

I like this car.  smiley  Is that toploader the regular 4 speed with 1:1 top gear, or the overdrive version?  They used them in some pickups in the late 70s, and while having an overdrive was nice, that version of the transmission wasn't all that durable - one of my friends bought a new F-100 in 1978 with that transmission and I think he ended up having to rebuild it two or three times.

Jack Heideman
Jack Heideman New Reader
7/31/18 11:13 a.m.

The transmission is from a Galaxy. I believe it has the 1:1 4th gear ratio.

Carl Heideman
Carl Heideman
7/31/18 12:17 p.m.

Is it just me, or should these guys be wearing more safety gear when they work?  Also, do you think they're leaving the shop clean enough at the end of the night? Finally, why do the welders keep running out of consumables?wink

NermalSnert New Reader
7/31/18 12:31 p.m.

Great work on a very cool car! Looking forward for more.

Woody GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
7/31/18 12:47 p.m.

Very cool.

I'm not sure if they are among the new parts in the photo, but replacing the bushings in the front radius rods (black) will make a big difference in this car.

914Driver MegaDork
7/31/18 12:50 p.m.


1. Yes they should.

2. Maybe their Mom works there too.

3. Consumables get consumed.  Did they at least leave you consumable beer?

wawazat Reader
7/31/18 1:06 p.m.

Great CAM project!  Very cool!

I'm working on my '69 Cougar and used Street or Track for suspension and brake upgrades.  Shaun has some good videos on youtube and some nice parts he's developed on his website.  Opentracker Racing is also well regarded in the vintage Mustang community as well as is Cobra Automotive.  NPD offers a variety of parts and one of their warehouses is in the Canton, MI area. 

DeadSkunk PowerDork
7/31/18 1:53 p.m.

The Shelby drop template should be a 1" drop, and include a 1/8" reward bias. This allows the upper A-arm to drop perpendicular to the ground. Without that 1/8" you will have effectively moved the A-arm forward a little, losing some caster , as well as camber gain when cornering. Even without it the handling will be appreciably better than where you started.

stuart in mn
stuart in mn UltimaDork
7/31/18 2:00 p.m.
Jack Heideman said:

The transmission is from a Galaxy. I believe it has the 1:1 4th gear ratio.

Cool.  In that case it should be pretty bulletproof in a Falcon.

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