Installing a Lincoln Versailles Rear End
When I decided to go through with the Granada front disc brake swap, I also thought of adding the extra stopping power of rear discs to my car. Many companies sell a rear disc brake kit for 60s Fords, but at the time their prices seemed a bit high for me. In time, I found out that Mustang owners have been borrowing a rear end from a 1976 - 1979 Lincoln Versailles and bolting it in to their vintage Mustangs. Not only did the Lincoln Versailles rear end sport 9" gears, but it also came with disc brakes. The length of the rear end was only 1/2" longer than a stock Mustang's, with the spring hangers having the same placing, making the Versailles rear end a simple bolt-in.......Or so it seemed on paper.
What's so hard about this swap?
The Lincoln Versailles rear end brings a lot of positive upgrades to your car: a stronger Ford 9" rear end, and rear disc brakes. Unfortunately, it also comes with several headaches:
1.) The rear end ratios range from 2:49:1 to 3.00:1, with very few units being locking rear ends. If you want any kind of "off the line" performance, this rear end will NOT suit you.
2.) The rear disc brakes were only around for about 4 years, and were installed in 1976 - 1979 Lincoln Versailles and some Ford Granadas. Parts for these rear ends are therefore becoming scarce, and the parts that usually need to be replaced often in this swap (rotors, calipers, soft lines) are becoming rather expensive.
3.) This rear end is "old technology" by today's standards, and special care needs to be taken when rebuilding one of these rear ends. The rotors are uni-directional, that is, they are "vented disc brakes" only if installed on the correct side. Installing a rotor on the improper side will cause the rotor not to draw air into its cooling fins, causing excessive brake wear or worse, brake failure. The Anchor plates, caliper soft lines, and calipers also need to be installed on either the left or right sides; they are NOT interchangeable.
What are some of my options?
The Lincoln Versailles rear end installation can be costly, but it
might suit you if you have availability to parts or are on a budget. Let us see the my
decision making process when it comes to integrating this rear end on my car:
1.) Rear disc brakes
There are several ways I can get these:
1.) Buy a rear disc brake kit for my 8" rear end, then have my 8" rebuilt or purchase a new rear end with shorter gears and a locking mechanism.
Cost: about $600 for the brake kit
2.) Buy an entire 8 or 9 inch rear end with the disc brakes.
Cost: about $700-$900 for the 8 or 9 inch with wanted gears and locking
3.) Buy a Lincoln Versailles rear end, buy wanted gears and locking mechanism
4.) I received info from a fellow Falcon owner, Mike Stevens, on his unique way
to add rear discs to his 1964 hardtop:
What did I do?
The Lincoln Versailles rear end swap was attractive to me because I had the contacts and the parts availability for this swap.
1.) I started out by purchasing a Lincoln Versailles rear end, and since I have been buying parts from the dealer who had it, I got it for less than the price listed above.
2.) I then disassembled the brakes and started shopping for replacement parts. I got rebuilt calipers, cut the rotors, and bought new pads. These parts are becoming harder to find, with some parts taking over 2 weeks to get to me. The hardest parts to find in my quest were the left and right caliper hoses (Wagner part# F88979 for left hand, part# F88980 for the right hand - or check out Mustang's Plus. Mustang's plus also carries Russell Braided Steel brake line, which is a logical alternative to the expensive hoses, and will last longer.)
3.) Thanks to Mark Dinzebach, not only did I get all the information I needed for the Geo power brake swap, but I also got a rear end center section ("pumpkin") and matching 31 spline axles from him. My rear end now sports a nodular iron cased, 31 spline 3.70:1 locking rear end. The center section was rebuilt with steel clutches in the locking mechanism and fit with the a small yoke to accept the a Falcon/Mustang driveshaft.
4.) Center section installation is easy. Simply pull out the axles (might take a few wraps with the hammer on the axle adapter to loosen them), remove the nuts and brass washers that fasten the center section to the rear axle, remove the center section, scrape off remaining gasket and sealer, place new gasket on rear axle, install new center section with brass washers under the nuts.
5.) I then went to work on the rear end with a wire brush and grinder. After getting the rear as clean as I could, I used a rust neutralizing agent on the rear end, followed by multiple coats of primer, and topped with epoxy gloss black paint.
Rear End Installation
7.) This rear end hasn't been installed yet, but here are a