"some looseness that i thought was coming from the front end disappeared! a note on the condition of the old links - they showed no wear, maybe the bushings had just degenerated and gotten all mushy but you couldn't see it just by looking."
'Mushy' I don't think, but rubber does harden with cracks, losing integrity. Question is - did you check the suspension before the repair yourself? In my case, a corkscrewing motion over bumps turned out to be just a loose bolt in the rear suspension. Check was to test with car on ground, grasping each tire at various places 180 degrees apart with both hands, then shake vigorously. Left rear was solid - no movement. Right showed significant play. Loose track-rod mounting bolt at frame was culprit, and easy fix (NOT so easy to reach with car on ground, but possible).
Front wheels showed some movement independent of steering wheel, traced to worn idler frame bushings - easy and cheap replacement.
I started this whole diagnostic by replacing rear shocks, since dust booties rotted loose and some leakage evident. Result of that was slight increase in ride tightness, but old shocks would have been fine if retained. Those were purchased from dealer at $300/pair. Moral - the proper diagnosis is cheaper than the shotgun approach - or the dealer.