to bring this story to an end, I installed the front and rear shocks without problems. By turning the wheels to the left when working on the left side, access to the lower bolts is available.
For the rear, the MB tire jack needs to be cranked up all the way for the shock to come out through the spring.
The sway bar links went in also without a hitch. I disconnected the link to the swaybar first on both sides with the car's rear raised a bit on two boards. Then off with wheel #1 and the lower connection to the control arm(?) is accessible. Took old off, cleaned around a bit and screwed on new link. Then connected to swaybar which had no pressure on it. Tire back on, other tire off and repeat. The swaybar had now pressure, but I could bend it down to link. I used a small jack to raise the axle anyway to make screwing and torqueing easier.
The sway bar link was very worn and the "clack" is now gone.
The car rides now quieter but I'll still have the subframe mount bushings replaced in the near future.