Shock absorbers, springs, and other components that make up a vehicle’s suspension system were built to last, especially those fitted in cars produced in the Fifties and Sixties.

If any vehicle has been on the road for sixty or even seventy years, then it is for sure that its suspension system has undergone at least one major overhaul.

That doesn’t mean that the owner/restorer should not be keeping a watchful eye on their prized vehicle’s suspension system- how it sits on the road and how it handles.

Risks should never be taken, and repairs and even a complete overhaul should not be put off. If the car is being driven on public roads, it represents a danger to the driver, their passengers and the public.

When appraising a classic car prior to purchase, special care and attention must be taken to ensure that the suspension is in perfect working order. Once the restoration has been completed, complacency must now be allowed to set in.

That means that the suspension system must be regularly checked out, and any signs of damage or even potential damage must be repaired.

That’s why it is essential to have at least some rudimentary knowledge of a vehicle’s suspension, including what options are available when it comes to replacing parts.

There are two ways classic car owners can approach a suspension repair.

The first is to seek out original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts.

All those years ago, car manufacturers would produce these parts to be model specific- even taking into consideration the year a particular model was built.

Those with more of an eye to guaranteed safety and authenticity will almost always opt for OEM parts because they want their vehicle restored to its exact, original state.

Nowadays, OEM parts are becoming increasingly difficult to source, and the rarer the model, the greater the difficulty.

As a result, OEM parts have become very expensive and less attractive to anyone who is not particulary concerned about authenticity.

The other option for classic car owners is aftermarket parts. Aftermarket parts are, unlike OEM parts, built by third-party companies.

Aftermarket parts are generally less expensive than OEM, and they bring with them the freedom to upgrade their suspension system to something more befitting the 21st century without affecting the vehicle’s appearance.

With the correct parts in place, the ease with the vehicle’s suspension can be reconditioned and repaired will vary from model to model.

 Vehicles can be fitted with one of three types of suspension: the parallelogram type, the swinging arm variety, and the multi-link system.

Parallelogram type suspension systems use a coil spring placed between two wishbones, along with either a transverse spring that replaces the lower wishbone or a double transverse spring that replaces the upper wishbone.

In many cases, the lower wishbone is longer in dimension than the upper, resulting in the wheel tilting as it rises, avoiding tyres scrubbing against the inner wing of the vehicle.

Although a swivel pin is very common these days in parallelogram type suspension systems, an older vehicle can be fitted with a kingpin and stub axle layout, known as a hang-over beam axle.

The second variety of suspension is the swinging arm variety.

In this system, wheels and bearings are situated at the end of an arm which carries the steering swivel pin, the whole assembly pivoting in a format known in its time as the Dubonnet system for reasons that have never been explained.

Anyone owning a vehicle fitted with a Dubonnet system swinging arm suspension system will rapidly discover that a lot of maintenance is required to keep the system at its best.

As a result, most owners and/or restorers did away with Dubonnet awhen they upgraded their suspension system.

Consisting of an extremely rigid axle beam, where sprung steering and suspension arms that pivoted around kingpins mounted on the end of the axle, the centrepoint of a Dubonnet featured encased coil springs and shock absorbers sealed in the oil to ensure that the suspension parts would be constantly lubricated.

All was well- as long as the system was maintained perfectly, making for a smooth ride.

Any lubrication leaks would have an immediate and negative effect on the vehicle’s suspension and ride quality.

The third suspension system liable to be found in UK and European cars of the Fifties and Sixties is known as the multi-link type.

A multi-link suspension system is fitted with one or more longitudinal arms, in which the conventional top link has been replaced by a flexible mounting and a telescopic arm act as a form of kingpin.

Introduced by Mercedes Benz during the Sixties can now be found in many vehicles produced during the late Sixties and throughout the Seventies.

While the only people that will genuinely enjoy the benefits of having a fully maintained suspension system are the driver and passengers, with no visible evidence for casual observers to appreciate how much time and money has been spent in creating perfect suspension, it will always be a wise investment both in terms of comfort and safety.

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All you need to know about restoring and maintaining UK or European cars of the Fifties and Sixties- as well as the history of the great cars of the era and the people that produced them.