What surprises me the most about this build is that the suspension is really fairly tame. In fact, there are still a lot of stock pieces left in place. Then there are pieces that Mark installed in the 90's during his hot rod phase. If you have ever driven an older pickup truck, then you can understand why some people told Mark quite bluntly that it could never happen. I mean, you step on the brakes and the front end nose dives like it is getting ready to go deep sea diving! And running on the coastal Newfoundland roads, there have been a few cars that have ended up in the Atlantic Ocean since Targa Newfoundland began in 2002. Mark's suspension setup on the truck is pretty old school and, well, unimpressive. That may sound harsh but I was honestly expecting to find huge amounts of custom parts and pieces harvested from sports cars. Like many other aspects of this project, Mark simply made what he had work! Anyone else may have great difficulty driving this beast, but after 26 years he knows it's every quirk and idiosyncrasy.
The rear suspension consists of Chisholm Suspension 4″ lowering springs that have been on the truck for literally twenty years. I googled them and could not find them, if you know more about them please let me know. (Thanks to reader Der Bruce for directing me to Chisholm Suspension – which built quality products but appears to now be out of the lowering suspension business). It has an ECE shock relocation kit, 2″ lowering blocks, and Ridetech HQ shocks with a custom curve and compression release. The front also has Ridetech shocks with a custom curve. I asked Mark about the compression release and he told me that it is set to hold the compression for a moment, so that the truck maintains itself (I will let you suspension experts discuss this in the comment section if you would like) so that the truck does not go wild when the brakes are released. Targa Truck has factory upper and lower trailing arms and factory control arms. About fifteen years ago he installed a CPP 1.25″ front sway bar and CPP drop spindles and springs (the first ones CPP made) which provided a 2.5″ drop. It still has factory metal worm gear bushings – because they are tough as nails truck stuff and they have not worn out. Yet!
To tighten up the steering – because with a vehicle of this vintage I am pretty sure you could turn the wheel an eighth of a turn before the nose would start to move – an AGR 14:1 racebox was mated with the factory steering linkage. Mark does not hold back when he talks about the suspension. He gives full credit to Scott Murfin at Can-Alignment for creating the magic that makes this truck handle and hook up in corners. Mark told me how on one of the narrow village roads, with quaint and historic houses literally lining the streets on one side and a sheer rock cliff on the other, that they were really dialed in when Miles began calling out 'Caution' as he felt they were coming in too hot. Then the rear wheel slipped off the roadway and threw the truck sideways. Mark and Miles watched as the left hand turn in the chicane and house just beyond it came rushing up at them. Miles was yelling 'Gas! Gas! Gas!' and Mark was sweating as there was no traction. Nothing. And then luck, or a miracle, jumped in and the truck hooked up. Mark stomped on the gas and they were off like nothing happened. If only we had pictures of this 17+ foot long truck sliding sideways down a street lined with picket fences, rock cliffs, and with a century old home in the background facing massive consequences. Phew! The spectators did not see the momentary panic. They only saw some incredible driving. Stories like this about the Targa Truck spread through the area and the team became celebrities. In Bonavista they took a wrong turn while travelling between stages and ended up in the middle of the town. They were corralled by fans who wanted to know more about the truck. More than one child had the chance to sit behind the wheel of this race truck.