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My car is a 1977 Granada which my wife bought new and had when I met her in 1980. It was our daily driver for most of the ‘80s and ‘90s. Some years ago, I decided to upgrade/modify it into a mild street machine. My goal was to have a reliable car that is nice looking and fun to drive. This has been a gradual process. It now sports stock Ford EFI, an HO roller cam, Detroit Truetrac differential, 3.55 gears, rear disc brakes, 5 leaf rear springs, and a T-5. Since there never was a Granada GT, I decided to make my own. I stuck on GT badges taken from a Toyota Celica GT. A heavy dose of anti-rejection drugs was needed to keep the car from shedding the import parts, however small.

The last area of the car that “needed” upgrading was the front end, which had the original stock pieces and had never been removed. When Cman from Fordmuscle decided to part out his Granada “Project Sleeper” a few years ago, I bought all of the front end parts from him with the idea of a stock replacement. They have been languishing in a box in my crawl space while I did the other upgrades.

After thinking about it, I decided that since I’d upgraded everything else, I’d do the same with the front end, so I “saved my pennies and I saved my dimes” and bought roller spring perches (from F15Falcon, no less), adjustable strut rods, a 1 1/8" sway bar, and finally, Global West tubular upper and lower control arms. Now, all I had to do was find someone to help me put them in.

Enter the brain trust from the Pacific Northwest Chapter of Fordmuscle. For the past three years, FEandGoingBroke (or just plain old FE) has hosted an annual BBQ for FM members at his home near Port Orchard, WA. One of the regulars, PSIG, suggested this year that the group undertake a project while we were all together, rather than just sit around BS-ing, swilling beer, and eating food that was high in cholesterol, sodium, saturated fat, and sugar (the four essential food groups!). I graciously offered up the Granada for a front end rebuild.

This was supposed to take place at the BBQ on July 14, but just as I was setting off from home in Canada, a three hour drive, I stopped for gas in Sumas just over the border, checked under the hood one final time, and found a coolant leak. Since I didn’t know what was causing it, auto parts stores weren’t open at 0-dark-hundred, and Shotrod64 and R.N.R. Racing would be waiting for me in Fife, I went back home, traded cars, and much to everyone’s disappointment (and FE’s disgust), I showed up in my 1998 Honda Accord. Just as well for Shotrod64 - the guys ended up changing bushings in the front end of the Shotrod instead of working on the Granada.

After some back-and-forth, we settled on a rain check date of Aug 25 for the Granada job. At the last minute, FE informed the rest of us that we would still have full use of his shop and tools, but he would be off at a darts tournament for most of the day. “Everything’s out in plain sight”, he said. Maybe it was, but I would hazard a guess that looking for tools added at least a couple of hours to the process.

I met R.N.R.Racing and Shotrod64 at a Chevron station in Fife, and we did a convoy to FE’s place. PSIG met us there, and we got started.

We took the wheels off, and PSIG took a look at everything to see if there were any issues that would or could shut the project down before we got started. The new UCAs came with a template to drill new holes 1" lower than stock. It wasn’t immediately clear whether or not the UCAs would fit in the openings once the new lower holes were drilled, or even whether or not the template would fit in the opening, but that couldn’t be determined until after the old UCAs were removed.

We also weren’t sure whether or not the adjustable strut rods would fit on the frame end, or for length. This uncertainty was to add a few hours of extra, backbreaking, frustrating, and totally unnecessary work as you will see later!

In one of my posts in the Garage when we were setting up this project day, I made a comment to the effect that the upgrade was “basically a re & re with the exception of drilling new holes for the UCAs.” While that is basically true, it is also a bit of an oversimplification, particularly for the first “re”, since some of the parts had never been removed since they were put on during assembly in 1977.

The brake calipers were removed without disconnecting the lines, and were hung from the fender. The only parts I was re-using were the spindles. I broke off the cotter pin for the castle nut for the UCA, and took about half an hour to work the pieces out and remove the nut. We separated the ball joints on the passenger side by taking off the nuts and hitting the spindle with a ball peen hammer. This didn’t work on the driver’s side, so we ended up using an air hammer with a pickle fork.

PSIG brought a spring compressor that he’d made which attaches to the spring perch using the bolt holes for the shocks, and goes up through the shock tower. In hindsight, we should have taken off the shocks and attached the compressor to the spring perch while the wheels were still on and the weight of the car was compressing the springs. The wheels were already off and the car was on jackstands by the time we thought of that, so we used a floor jack with a piece of 4x4 to lift the LCAs and compress the springs. The perches were unbolted, the springs compressed, and the UCAs were removed.

The old strut rods caused us the most grief. Because we were unsure if the replacement adjustable strut rod would fit at the frame end, the original idea was to take the strut rods off intact in case they had to be re-used. I had a new set of bushings to be used as Plan “B”. However, the strut rods didn’t cooperate. The nuts absolutely would not budge no matter what we tried. The one impact socket FE didn’t have was the one that fit the nut on the end of the strut rod, so we had to go to Napa to get one. After starting with that, we broke a u-joint for FE’s impact wrench. Neither the ½" nor the 3/4" impact gun would budge it. We reached a point where the entire rod would rotate in the bushings, but neither nut would move at all. We used penetrating oil, breaker bars, BFH, you name it.

At one point, we discussed leaving the old strut rods in place and re-using them, but then remembered that with the nuts frozen the way they were, there would have been no way to adjust the caster, and the chance of the old strut rods being exactly right for the new parts as they were was right up there with me being named the next Pope.

Finally, after about three very frustrating hours, as the owner, I made a command decision. My suggestion was that it would probably be easier to adapt the frame end of the adjustable strut rod than it would be to try and salvage the old strut rods. PSIG got out the cutoff wheel and took them off (again, something of an oversimplification!) When the washers were cut, a lot of rust came out. PSIG commented that a plasma cutter would have made it a lot easier.

Once the old rods had been cut off, something went right for a change - the frame ends of the adjustable rods fit perfectly! Had we known that, we could have cut the old ones off right away and saved a lot of time and aggravation.

The other potential problem also turned out to be a non-issue - there was enough room for the UCA in the new location. The template to drill the new holes fit perfectly.

I had just started drilling the new holes on the passenger side when FE returned in triumph after winning the State darts championship. He was fresh because he hadn’t been struggling with rusted parts all day like the rest of us. His first question was why I was using an electric drill. He went and got an air grinder, hogged out the edges of the hole (where my drill bit had been catching on a double thickness of metal), got an air drill, and zipped through it in no time. He did the same thing on the other side. He also wanted to know why we hadn’t used his plasma cutter to take off the strut rods instead of using the cutoff wheel. (“I don’t know - maybe because we didn’t know you had one!”)

The mounting point for the spring perches on the new UCAs is quite a bit thicker than on the stock UCAs. The bolts had to be removed from the spring perches and replaced with longer ones supplied with the Global West UCAs. The bolts were a tight fit until the holes were chased once with a drill; after that, they slid in easily. Installing the spring perches was still a bit tough because of spring tension.

The passenger side LCA was also a bit of a challenge to get off because the bolt had started threading into the eccentric. It came off after a bit of a struggle. We got the passenger side UCA, LCA, spindle, spring, and perch assembled and called it a night - by this time, it was after dark. We went out for some well deserved pizza and beer.

The original idea had been to get everything done in one day, but rust-frozen parts combined with lack of familiarity with where FE keeps all his tools added a lot of extra time. Since everyone else apparently has lives outside of car stuff, they went back home, and it remained for FE and I to finish up the driver’s side on Sunday. We also had to try to set the wheel alignment as straight as possible so I would be able to drive the 170 miles back home to Canada and still have tread on my front tires when I got there.

We got back at it in the morning. The rest of the assembly went much more smoothly. I had a camber/caster/toe gauge which I’d picked up just before the weekend. PSIG knew how to use it, and RNR Racing had read the instructions, but neither of them were there on Sunday. As for FE and I - “Instructions? We don’t need no stinking instructions!”

We played around with the camber part of the gauge, and did a combination of eyeballing and driving to get the front end straight enough for me to make it home. The car sat low but the front end rose up about five inches once I started driving it, then settled again after I stopped..

I made it home fine and took it in for a wheel alignment a few days later. The ride height has stabilized to just a little lower than before the conversion. It feels tighter, corners flatter, is smoother at highway speeds, and just in general was well worth the upgrade.. On the first test run after the wheel alignment, I kept up with a motorcycle through some pretty sharp curves and felt in control the whole time. Global West’s advertising is true - it went from “an understeering nightmare” to a corner carver. Of course, this was a complete replacement of mostly 35 year old parts, so even a stock rebuild would have been quite a noticeable change.

Lessons learned: - I had always thought this was a job I could tackle a little at a time in my garage over the winter. WRONG! Without all the proper tools, I’d have been dead in the water. Having people to work with who actually knew what they were doing helped a great deal as well. Even someone who knows exactly what to do and has all the tools would have needed a second pair of hands at times.

We also should have pulled the car farther into the shop before starting to work on it. I parked it where I did to be near the open door for better light, but as the day wore on, we ended up having to work sitting in direct sunlight which got pretty hot. By the time we realized this, the front end was pretty much dismantled and the car couldn’t be moved. Shotrod64 rigged up an umbrella to block some of the sun which helped..

Many thanks to FE for the use of his shop and tools, and to both he and his wife for their most excellent hospitality; to FE, PSIG, and R.N.R.Racing for all the indispensable expertise without which this conversion would not have happened; to Shotrod64 for lunch, the photos, the umbrella, and moral support; and, finally, to Fordmuscle for providing a forum where I was able to meet such a great bunch of people. I had a great time and learned a lot. Next project?


697 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Part II

The Granada handles much better after the front end was upgraded. One small problem - the driver side LCA was binding. It could be manually pulled up to its natural ride height, and it would stay there until the first time I braked. After that, it did a nose dive, and stayed in the lowest position.

I was bottoming out coming off steep driveways and on sharp dips in the road. The problem turned out to be with the LCAs - ride height and mobility were fine as long as the LCA bolts weren't too tight. As soon as they were torqued to spec, they started to bind. They had to be torqued to 70 ft/lb to maintain camber, so another solution had to be found.

I ended up using an eccentric eliminator kit from Global West:

It was torqued just to the point where the LCAs started to bind, then backed off half a turn. It has solved the problem, and everything is working fine now.

581 Posts
Nice read.
Appears that the local forum guys are pretty supporting.
That would be a neat group to hang with for a weekend.

In our Texas ElCamino group-----we have Ralph
He seems to get a lot of work from the Dallas area Elky guys.
Ralph lives in South Texas.

He is also a one man pit crew for the entire group when at the drag strip.

Kudos to PSIG and FE for their support and hospitaliy.
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