What is a Panhard Bar? I really do get asked that from time to time.

It is mounted in the rear of the car. One end is connected to a bracket on the frame on one side & the other end is connected to a bracket on the axle housing as far over on the other side of the car as possible. The panhard bar is then adjusted so that it is horizontal when the car is half full of fuel and at normal ride height. The panhard bar serves several purposes. But letís stick to basics.

1. Lateral locator of rear leaf springs. We have always run with a panhard bar. And since we went to 1ĺ inch wide springs, from the original 2Ĺ inch wide Mustang springs, we have found it is even more important.

2. It also serves as a handling-tuning device. The total height can be changed to effect the roll center.

Our design has gone through a number of changes through the 13 years that we have been developing the panhard bar from the original design of the 60ís. We found that the floor was cracking on our 1965 A Sedan Mustang from the tremendous stresses on the subframe. The fix for this was a brace that went from the subframe bracket across the car to the subframe on the other side. This is called a Bolis bar. It is named for a previous employee that did the first brace, Joe Bolis. The next change was to strengthen the panhard bar and the spherical joints at each end.

"Yes, Walt, but when the car goes up & down, the panhard bar goes through an arc that causes the rear axle to move laterally back & forth across the car. If you used a Wattís link, the housing could only move vertically. So, why donít you use a Wattís link?"

Letís address the lateral movement of our 36-inch long panhard bar first. From the horizontal, as the rear of the car rises and falls, here are the results:

+ & - Axle
vertical lateral
travel travel
5.02 inches .0878 inches
7.52 inches .1973 inches
12.50 inches .5468 inches

If the bar was longer, the side movement would be even less and visa versa.

Now letís look at watts link. For the price of no lateral movement, the installation is much more complicated and heavier. And it is much more difficult to use it as a tuning device. Look under a NASCAR racecar sometime. You will see a panhard bar. They use them as a tuning device.

The goal in our cars is to have a very smooth transition when entering a corner, so that the driver doesnít have to make rapid unwanted corrections. Our panhard bar setup is one of the factors that allow this.

I guess, in comparing the panhard bar and wattís link, "if it ainít broke, donít fix it". Or, donít make it complicated if it doesnít have to be. One thing we engineers have to be careful about is not making our setups unnecessarily complicated. This applies to the entire car. It is a balancing act. The question is: what are the benefits versus the draw backs, such as cost, complexity and weight, just to name a few?

Walt Hane
Tech Tips-3

Bullet 1 Suspension
Bullet 2 Dry Nitrogen
Bullet 3 The Panhard Bar
Bullet 4 Loss of Oil Pressure
Bullet 5 Colorado Hot Fuel Problem