Back when I had my ’66 GMC van, I was amazed on how basic and uncomplicated the front suspension was: A simple, solid axle bolted to two longitudinal leaf springs. It’s about the simplest front suspension one can imagine, and isn’t much different than the suspension on a horse-drawn frontier buckboard of 150 years ago (and why people complained that my van “rode like a buckboard”). No control arms or other linkages, just an axle, springs, and a couple of shocks. It doesn’t provide the best ride, and it’s not a terribly space efficient layout, but it is elegant in its simplicity, very robust, and can be maintained with basic mechanical skills and a few simple tools. (“Yeah! Impact wrench! VRRR VRRR!“)
In homage to my old van, today’s entry in the virtual tome that is Encyclopedia Hoonatica is vehicles with a solid beam axle and leaf springs up front. Lately, E-H queries have not been very technical, so I decided to lob out a question today that’s a little more deferential to those greasemonkeys who spend more time under cars than perusing sales brochures.
- Passenger cars and light trucks only. We could name medium- and heavy-duty trucks until the cows come home. And then the cows could name a few more.
- Rear wheel drive only. No 4x4s. A beam axle is not the same thing as a drive axle.
- Front suspension only. We don’t care about what’s in the rear of your Dodge Caravan.
- Since this was a fairly common configuration on many early vehicles, both common and obscure, let’s restrict the list to postwar vehicles.
Difficulty: Easy for some, a blank stare for others. Big bonus points for passenger cars.
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