Until recently it was thought that soft shocks are good for offroad suspensions but today people are thinking otherwise.  Even Bilsteins, which are very expensive and very stiff, are becoming very popular in the off road scene. 

Ideally, you want the stiffest, firmest shock available.  This might be a Rancho 9000 which were very popular for a while, or it might be some other shock you found.  With a SOA because you are so much taller and you do not want to drive around with incredibly stiff springs, you will need some good stock shocks to control your body sway.  If your body sway is still bad after getting shocks on there, you might want to consider adding some sway bars, either from a difference Land Cruiser model (they were OEM front and rear on FJ55s and 62s, and were on the fronts of FJ60s and are on all FJ80s) or go to the junk yard and pull some off a different vehicle.  An excellent source for sway bars is from a Volvo wagon.  If it is turbocharged or 6 cyl, it will have even stiffer ones.

There is not a whole lot I can say about shock setups other than “plan wisely.”  There are ways to reuse some of your OEM shock mounts, but when building a spring over, there is no disadvantage to using longer shocks. There is, however, a disadvantage to using short shocks. 

If your truck sees any kind of off roading, and you build your shock system wisely (as long as possible) you will begin to see the beauty of the SOA system, which allows for much better articulation.  Unfortunately, there are very few “givens” -- especially since everyone’s rig is a little different --  with different height springs, and different potential locations for shock mounts.  In the front, try to place your mounts well into the engine compartment if you can.  In the rear, you do not have many choices other than trying to fabricate mounts on the OEM rear shock mount (closer together), and attach custom mounts to your axle (again, as wide as possible). 

For the front shock mount, a popular modification these days is using a shock tower from a Ford.  The part number is E5TZ-18183-A, and  they’re available for about $25 a pop from the dealer.  If the dealer tries to charge you $50, there is a $25 part number and it is the exact same part.


Photos by Bill Jackson aka Cardinal Fang (left) and Eskimo (right).

Thanks for reading and hopefully see you on the trail some day, SOA!
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