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Hey guys Im new here but haven't found any info on this subject on any site really. I have a 2000 Dakota its lifted roughly 3 inches already on 305 70 16's. Next step would be an sas I saw a lot of guys run leaf sprung front suspensions. But I also heard its possible to use James Duff sas parts they make for the ranger. Any info on this or what for leaf spring would be best to run up front if I have to go that way? Thanks for any info looking forward to chiming in and hearing what people have to say.
 

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There are numerous ways to SAS a Dakota. If you do a search on SAS Dakotas, you may see a couple of Dakotas which have been SAS'ed using Ford suspension systems.

Back in the mid to late 70's, 1/2 ton Ford 4x4s used coil springs and radius arm suspensions. The Early Bronco (66-77) and 2nd gen Bronco (78-79) also used this same basic suspension. It's a simple design. It features a pair of coil springs and radius arms. The axle is located side to side by a track bar. The suspension shouldn't be too difficult to adapt to a Dakota, if you can get a few specific parts. You will need the coil spring buckets and the radius arm brackets. I do not believe you specifically need the ones off of the mentioned 1/2 tons or Bronco models. Ford used similar coil spring buckets and radius arm brackets on all of the Twin-I-Beam and Twin-Traction-Beam suspensions, including Rangers, Bronco 2s, Explorers, F150, Econoline vans, etc. I believe that you can use any of these. There are still thousands of them in salvage yards, but the most difficult part for acquiring them is that you'll have to cut the rivets off to get them.

I do not believe you necessarily need the James Duff components to complete an SAS swap designed around the Ford suspension system, except maybe new springs and bushings, or perhaps drop down radius arm brackets, because you can get what you need from thousands of usable Ford parts sitting in junk yards (Unless you live in the rust belt and most of the parts you see are flaky, pitted or unusable)

You won't be able to use an early Bronco axle, those early Broncos are narrower than the Dakota. This means the only axle option you have specifically designed to use the coil spring/radius arm suspension is the 70s Ford F150 Dana 44 front axle. It maybe difficult to acquire that particular axle. The newest ones are now over 30 yrs old meaning that, if you can find one, even a used one will probably need to be rebuilt. These axles are still highly desirable and as supply and demand dictates, a good used one may be pretty pricey.

If you want coil springs when you build your SAS Dakota, you do not necessarily need to use Ford parts. Custom suspensions can be made to feature coil springs and 4 link, rather than radius arms. This also opens up more axle options since it's all custom anyway. You can use almost any front axle you could find and even step up to bigger, stronger axles, like the the Dana 50, or Dana 60

Leaf spring front suspensions can be an option and many builders are attracted to the design because they are generally simple. However, they can be as difficult to build as a custom coil spring suspension. Each has it's own advantages and disadvantages, it all depends on which is right for you.
In any case, fabrication for an SAS swap is going to be extensive because you're building a vehicle that was never originally designed to use a solid axle.

Ed
 
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