leaf spring positions

Tugela

Well-known member
May 21, 2007
4,624
415
Seattle
I just got back from South Africa where I spent several days tooling around in a Series One and several more following it in a Defender 110. I noticed that on all Series trucks the leaf springs are below the axle and are suspended from it by U-bolts/shackles. Yet on certain other makes of 4x4 I've seen the leaf springs sit on top of the axle.

Assuming that all else being equal, leaf springs will flex the same whether they are above or below the axle. Why would Land Rover position the springs below the axle? Reduce drive shaft angles? I can't identify any obvious advantages and can only think of drawbacks:

1. The entire weight of the vehicle is hanging on 8 U-bolts/shackles. If the springs are sitting on top of the axles, the vehicle's weight is directly transferred to them, kind of like our coil-sprung Rovers.
2. Leaf springs hanging below the axles reduce ground clearance.

I imagine PT would probably have a good explanation for why Land Rover stuck with this design for 37 years.