Shock Absorbers

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MaddMike

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1971 Mustang Mach 1: 351 C (modified), FMX trans (modified), 9" 3:25 traction lock rear gear. I have owned this car 43 years, since I was 17.
I own a 1971 Mustang Mach 1 I purchased in 1978 when I was a Junior in High School (near Cleveland, OH) from Sexton Motor Sales in Lillington, NC for $1,100. I am the 2nd owner and I still have it. I did a complete resto between 1995 and 2000. So I have owned it 43 years - thru H.S. , the Army, brought my newborn daughter home from the hospital in it; it survived 2 ex-wives / divorces.

MY QUESTION: Can anyone advise what shock absorbers I should aim for. I have KONI shocks on it now but I don't like the stiff ride that feels every bump. Indeed, it has upgraded performance items but it is in appearance stock. I am not racing it and beating on it so only highway and shows and around town is what is intended. I want a "smooth" ride. Any suggestions? 

 

Manu Mach1

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73 Ford Mustang Sprint from Mexico.
Hello, I recently bought some KYB KG4504 but were too short, so I then bought some KYB 343156 and that fits perfectly, so don't do that mistake.

If that can help...

 

MaddMike

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1971 Mustang Mach 1: 351 C (modified), FMX trans (modified), 9" 3:25 traction lock rear gear. I have owned this car 43 years, since I was 17.
Yes, I agree height can be an issue but I am looking for a smooth ride rather than a spine jarring, tight / rigid ride. When I restored mine I evened it out, with front coils that lowered and leafs that raised. 71-73s always seemed lower in the back end.

 
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71coop

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1971 Mach 1 - "Day 2" restoration; 351C/FMX, trick flow heads, roller cam conversion, CAA AC kit, upgraded springs/shocks & close-ratio steering box
It's hard to make a solid recommendation since so much of this is subjective and personal preference. A stiff ride for one person may be too harsh for another. Anyway, here goes my experience -  I ran KYB Gas-A-Just shocks for a couple years. They seem pretty smooth, and actually seemed to give good balance between damping bounce and stiffness. I noticed that they seem to perform better as you drove the car throughout the day. One thing I didn't like was that every time I just started out, they allowed too much bounce until warmed up, but that never took long. I actually prefer a stiffer ride so eventually went with a set of the newer Bilsteins - stiffer ride, but still not too jarring.

 

Bobby

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Changing shock absorbers is on my list of things to do. I currently have KYB Gas-A-Just shocks front and rear, but now I have new Eaton Detroit Springs 153 lb BOSS rear leaf springs, I find the ride too harsh. Eaton recommend KYB GR-2 (344363) NOTE: KYB state that the GR 2 and Excel G are identical except name and color, which will be black in future. The trick is finding the right sizes for our Mustangs. KYB shocks are made in Japan by the way. 

 

midlife

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Did you try adjusting the Konis?  I believe there are 5 settings, from soft to hard.

 
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Some other Fords
I went through a similar decision on shocks 6 months ago.  I wanted OEM smooth ride.  Our suspensions were not designed for higher pressure gas preloaded shocks.  I bought OEM ride specification shocks from Rock Auto.  All four ran me about $80 in total.  I bought KYB Excel-G shocks.  Numbers 343156 and 343219.  I am happy with the '70's vintage ride and performance.

 
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droptop73

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I have the KYB Gas A Just and they are not too harsh for me when driving on nice roads. A harsh bump or pothole (yeah, we have a few here in Michigan) it hammers pretty hard. I'm looking at QA1 single adjustable for my next and hopefully last set. I have heard the same thing as Chris about high pressure shocks too. 

 
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I went through a similar decision on shocks 6 months ago.  I wanted OEM smooth ride.  Our suspensions were not designed for higher pressure gas preloaded shocks.  I bought OEM ride specification shocks from Rock Auto.  All four ran me about $80 in total.  I bought KYB Excel-G shocks.  Numbers 343156 and 343219.  I am happy with the '70's vintage ride and performance.
Those are the ones I'll buy also, but not till spring, TFC right now to work on the car!

 
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I have the KYB Gas A Just and they are not too harsh for me when driving on nice roads. A harsh bump or pothole (yeah, we have a few here in Michigan) it hammers pretty hard. I'm looking at QA1 single adjustable for my next and hopefully last set. I have heard the same thing as Chris about high pressure shocks too. 
That's pretty much the way mine rides on Gas-A-Just shocks. In fact if I hit a large pothole, bump or whatever, it sounds like a metallic clunk, like something is loose and hitting hard, which it is not. QA1's are a little pricy for my current budget.

 
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By the way, just throwing this out there, I have a set of NOS still in the (crappy) boxes front shocks part # AX-201. D1ZZ-18124-E if anyone wants them. No idea if they're any good mind you. PM me if interested and we'll come up with a plan.

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Talking of which, I have a used set of Kyb Gas-a-just front shocks that were in my car before I upgraded the suspension. They worked well at that time They are free if interested - you pay shipping.

 
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Did you try adjusting the Konis?  I believe there are 5 settings, from soft to hard.
Koni shock should be adjustable. Koni shocks are premium shocks, and they are really good quality shocks. I would not change them for inexpensive shocks unless I could not get the ride I really wanted. See if you can adjust them. Koni shocks are also rebuildable, you may be able to call Koni and have them change the valving and rebuild them for you to get a nicer ride. Koni is right up there with Bilstein, it would almost be a travesty to change them for some KYB shocks. 

 

Hemikiller

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To add onto the comments....

I ran Konis for many years on my 71-73 cars. I used to run them at 1 ~ 1 1/2 turns and it was *stiff*. Konis 82 series are adjustable by collapsing the shock completely and turning the rod. IIRC, turning it counter clockwise softens, CW increases rebound stiffness. I'd recommend you try them at full soft.  You have 2 1/2 turns of adjustment. If you're creative, you can adjust the fronts without removing them. The rears just remove the lower mounting hardware, collapse the shock and adjust it while in the body. If you go the wrong way, you will barely be able to extend the shock. 

As far as the other choices. the KYB Excel-G shocks offer a stock type ride. I have them in my 71 for now as they were cheap and my Konis need to be rebuilt. The part #s are 343156 front, 343219 rear.

https://www.rockauto.com/en/catalog/ford,1971,mustang,5.8l+351cid+v8,1132692,suspension,shock+absorber,7556

If you decide to remove the Konis, shoot me a PM as I'd be glad to work out a deal for them.

 
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I finally was able to drive my Mustang today for the first time since I got it about 4 months ago. I went to the inspection station to get it inspected, and then went to the DMV to get it registered and get plates. I just did all the front and rear suspension, new upper and lower control arms, strut rod bushings, inner and outer tie rods, 8356 coil springs (all this stuff was Moog), Scott Drake spring perches, and in the rear I put the correct Eaton Detroit ML1215 leaf springs, with new bushings in the back. Put poly bushings on the stock Mach 1 front sway bar, and just new bushings on the rear one. I used the KYB Gas-a-just shocks on all 4 corners, and to me the ride is not harsh at all with the gas-a-just shocks. This is such a subjective thing, but I would honestly like the suspension to be stiffer and the car to wallow less in the corners. I am running Copper Cobra 235/60/15 tires on OEM 15x7 Magnum wheels at 30psi. I know that I would not have been happy with shocks that gave me a softer ride. 

 

clevelandcoupe

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1930 Ford Model A 351C-AOD
Just my two cents, I replaced my KYB's with four new Bilstein's and it made an amazing difference in how my car handles, turns and drives. I would suggest these shocks even though they do seem pricy. Spend the money once....

Thanks, Jay 

 
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Just my two cents, I replaced my KYB's with four new Bilstein's and it made an amazing difference in how my car handles, turns and drives. I would suggest these shocks even though they do seem pricy. Spend the money once....

Thanks, Jay 
What KYB shocks did you have?

 
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