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Ford 8.8" Ring and Pinion Gear Set-Up

Car Butts

Bench Racing

by Ryan King

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I like car butts and I cannot lie.

Seriously, I like rear ends.

I don't mean taillight panels, trunks, tailgates, and hatches, I'm talking differentials, axles, and housings.

Sure, they smell, but, ring and pinion gears, and differentials are also fascinating — as are the housing designs.

Do you know the difference between Salisbury, banjo, rear cover, and side cover housings?

If not, here's a quick lesson: Salisbury and banjo housings are beam style axles, while rear cover and side cover housings are independent axle carriers.

Beam style axles are the housings with non-articulating tubes protruding out both sides and are used predominantly on older Muscle Cars with solid rear suspensions, while ICAs (or independent carrier axles) are used on independent rear suspension cars like the Corvette, Cobra, and Viper.

All of my Car Projects, save the Cobalt SS/SC, have solid rear suspensions — okay, technically, even the Cobalt SS/SC has a solid rear suspension, but it doesn't have a rear end housing because it's front wheel drive and utilizes a 5-speed transaxle, which contains both the transmission and the differential.

Today, every Muscle Car in production uses an ICA. ICA's come in so many flavors, I'm not going to even try to approach that subject here — it would take too long to do it any justice. Instead, I'm going to focus on the solid axle designs.

Do you know the difference between a Salisbury and a banjo housing? A Salisbury housing has an integral differential carrier while the banjo housing has a removable carrier.

GM's 10-bolt and 12-bolt rear ends are Salisbury designs. Ford's 8 and 9-inch rears use the banjo housing.

Ford's later housings like the 8.8", use the Salisbury design.

Chrysler 8.75" rears are banjo, but the Dana axles like the mother of all Muscle Car rear ends, the Dana 60, are Salisbury.

If you're wondering, the toughest rear end design of the bunch is far and away the Dana 60 — not that GMs and Fords are bad by any stretch, after all, the Ford 9-inch has become the performance staple, but the Dana 60 is the real monster.

Although every solid axle Muscle Car rear end can be grouped into either one or the other style — the AMC 20 is a Salisbury, FYI — there are small variations in the design and set-up used by the different manufacturers.

If you're curious, the 351 and all factory V8-powered first generation Mustangs rolled off the assembly line with banjo-style rear end housings. The Mustang, the El Camino, the Survivor, the LX, and the GT on the other hand, use the Salisbury design.

Want to know more?

Check out my latest book review, High-Performance Differentials, Axles and Drivelines by Joseph Palazzolo — which I just posted in the Book Reviews section.

Until next week, keep her between the lines.


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