Attacking the Front Suspension

The front suspension on the Blue GTE needed some attention. There was a lot of wear on the bushings. To repair the couple worn bushings would require disassembly of the front king pin front suspension, so the best plan of attack was to rebuild the whole front end. Do it once, and it’s all done right.

Someone previously painted every surface of the front suspension with a black semigloss paint. I call this “restoration from a spray can” where nothing is rebuilt or restored, but instead painted over with a rattle can spray paint. This is often done by “restoration” shops that simply want to flip a car or fool an unsuspecting buyer of worn parts under the fresh paint. Under the paint on this front suspension, I found yellow paint which was probably applied at the factory and the original white cadmium finish on the steel control arms. Completely rebuilding this suspension with new bushings and finishes will last a long time, and look a lot better than a “rust-o-lium restoration!”

The front suspension came apart with relative ease. There are a ton of parts to keep track of and assemblies to take apart. I’ll have to separate the parts that need to go to the plater, and parts that need to be replaced, but it all started with a trip to the wash tank!

The front suspension on a vintage Ferrari from the mid 60s back had crude kingpin suspensions, but they were sturdy and got the job done. Their biggest killer was lack of grease. In order for the bushings and kingpins to work smoothly, everything rode on a layer of grease and there were a bunch of grease fittings to fill. Water could wash some of this grease away and dirt could clog some of the grease fittings so the grease couldn’t do its job. As the bushings dried out and rusted, the wear on these parts started to increase exponentially.

The lubrication chart from the Ferrari 250GTE owner’s manual has a frequency that is surprising when compared to modern cars. They recommend lubricating the front suspension every 2500 miles based on regular use. If I were to apply this schedule to my personal car, I would be lubricating the suspension every 5 years, but if I drove it through a rain storm this would change the frequency.

I also like # 16 of the 5000 interval where we should be washing the rear leaf springs in oil. I’m sure all the best Ferrari shops do that as part of their major services!

We don’t drive our cars on a regular basis and they’re usually stored in a very nice stable climate, but this chart helps remind you all the places your car needs lubrication. It’s easy to forget this essential service when our modern cars need so little lube.

With the front suspension removed from the car, I still had a lot of disassembly. I tried to pull the suspension apart by removing the coil spring keeper, but it was corroded and seized at the bottom of the spring cup. The aluminum keeper and steel cup were not a good choice to use at the bottom of the suspension when it was exposed to water and corrosion. It didn’t budge despite heat from a torch and scraping. It may have to destroyed to get it apart. We’ll see.