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Projects 1929 Chevy four door: Can I make it cool?

Discussion in 'Traditional Hot Rods' started by Griznant, Apr 15, 2020.

  1. Griznant
    Joined: Jan 4, 2010
    Posts: 93


    Hey everyone,
    It's been a few years since I had a project relative to the HAMB, but my wife and I recently picked up a fairly complete 1929 Chevy four door. It was local, a good price, rust free, decent wood, and had most of the parts, but didn't run and had several amateur restorations done in the last 91 years.

    I know I can't build a true "hot rod" from this car, but I would like to make something that had the flavor of a hot rod and was traditional in look. It has to be able to handle modern traffic and be "safer" for the family to cruise in. The kids really want to get dropped off at school using the suicide rear doors so they're all about that idea.

    I got it running with the original 194 stovebolt. It runs as well as 46hp ever could, but I really need this to be more street friendly with modern traffic. Going with a '58 235, T5, open drive rear axle, and also updating the brakes to eliminate the mechanical setup (which need work anyway).

    I'm looking for opinions on the best "stance" for this style of car. I'd like to go with a more traditional wheel choice and can convert it all over to 5x4.75" bolt pattern wheels to match the rear axle I've got so that's not a problem. I've seen some nice looking Model A 4-doors in the past but Chevy equivalents are hard to find. So, suspension changes, wheel combos, etc. are what I'm really looking to change to get a better look. I was thinking of smooth steelies painted like the originals which chrome centers. Open to all suggestions though.

    chevy-2-15-2020_pic1.jpg chevy-2-15-2020_pic2.jpg chevy-4-1-2020_pic1.jpg chevy-4-1-2020_pic2.jpg

    Thanks in advance,

  2. scotts52
    Joined: Apr 7, 2008
    Posts: 2,063


    I believe you can adapt most later running gear, early 50s truck front axle with better brakes, later model rear, later model straight 6 or v8. Mostly bolt in I believe. Drop it down and start cruising. Keep it simple. The sooner you get it back on the road the less likely you'll lose interest.
    Mimilan, loudbang, ClarkH and 2 others like this.
  3. ROADSTER1927
    Joined: Feb 14, 2009
    Posts: 2,738


    Looks like a great start! Make smaller changes as you go and keep it on the road. Limit them to a weekend or week except in the winter months. Good luck on your already cool car! Gary:)
    loudbang and ClarkH like this.
  4. Cool car! Keep us updated.
    loudbang likes this.
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  5. 2935ford
    Joined: Jan 6, 2006
    Posts: 3,326


    Wow, that it has survived this long! All that wood! Yes, you can do all kinds of cool stuff. Enjoy! :)
    loudbang likes this.
  6. rusty valley
    Joined: Oct 25, 2014
    Posts: 1,487

    rusty valley

    i think it looks fine the way it is.
    alanp561 and Gasser 57 like this.
  7. Squablow
    Joined: Apr 26, 2005
    Posts: 14,394


    Those disk wheels are super cool, shame they won't work with the new drivetrain.

    Some 16" wheels and tires would look nice, but all Chevy cars and trucks were 6 lug right up until 1949 when they went to 15" wheels. There's a lot of cool 6 lug wire wheels and artillery wheels and other options that would look nice on the car, you might consider pattern adapters to make them work. I'm not aware of any 16" wheels made in 4.75" pattern by any auto maker, until you get into modern ugly era stuff.

    '49 to '53 Chevy wheels would work and have a couple hubcap choices, but they're 15". Personally I feel like any radial tire of any size is going to look goofy on this car, as would any rim of 6" width or more.
    Gasser 57, loudbang and ClarkH like this.
  8. winduptoy
    Joined: Feb 19, 2013
    Posts: 1,928


    I was thinking the same and the right ones you can keep the six hole wheels.
    235 has lots of options for performance accessories and build...split manifold for one.
    Good for getting one that is whole family friendly
    Show us what you do...
  9. Artillery wheels in the two tone green with caps. It´ll look great.
    Gasser 57, ClarkH, Griznant and 2 others like this.
  10. 31Apickup
    Joined: Nov 8, 2005
    Posts: 2,119


    Check out nas90tdi’s thread 1928 Chevy National, he’s doing something similar although he is also rebuilding all of the wood. There as also a thread for the same era Chevy coupe,

    Sent from my iPhone using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2020
    loudbang and Griznant like this.
  11. jimmy six
    Joined: Mar 21, 2006
    Posts: 6,316

    jimmy six

    It's a rectangle....I could make it a bitchen' Hot Rod with a Sawzall. Can't believe some one else hasn't said it.
    Budget36 likes this.
  12. brokedownbiker
    Joined: Jun 7, 2016
    Posts: 504


    Set it up with the front end a couple of inches lower than the rear, update the drive train as you described, redo the interior to your satisfaction. Then drive the wheels off of it!! I wouldn't chop it, not a fan on those body styles (yeah I know I'm in the minority on this).
    kevinrevin and loudbang like this.
  13. Baumi
    Joined: Jan 28, 2003
    Posts: 2,408


    I think it´s already cool. I´d just drive it as is...
    loudbang and Gasser 57 like this.
  14. CobraJoe
    Joined: Mar 19, 2018
    Posts: 56


    Personally, I think I would just keep driving it the way it is.
    Gasser 57 and loudbang like this.
  15. 282doorUK
    Joined: Mar 6, 2015
    Posts: 43


    I have a stock '28 survivor style Chevy, reckon it's different and super cool, but slipping a later Chevy drivetrain and front axle under it, with modern disc wheels and a rubber rake, would make a much more usable car of it. That would almost be a bolt on job and keep it looking traditional too.
    I love the look of the original disc wheels and they will fit later hubs, but the rims can slip round the centers and cut off the valve stems (been there!) so they won't work with any more power, or stronger brakes.
    I've put safety glass in all round, but the wood means it's hard to fit belts for the kids, I'm still working on that problem.

    Have fun with it and please keep us posted!
    loudbang likes this.
  16. 41rodderz
    Joined: Sep 27, 2010
    Posts: 4,673

    from Oregon

    Lowered , lose the fenders , flat black paint , some wire wheels and new tires with an old Hemi and burn rubber. :D
  17. vtx1800
    Joined: Oct 4, 2009
    Posts: 1,019


    I had a VERY rough 29 Chevy much like that one. It was way beyond my abilities to build (over 40 years ago) but seeing the pictures and the happy faces, I'd go easy on the upgrades (drive train, brakes, steering) and leave the outside looking much like it does now, but just a little lower. I even like the old disk wheels, somewhere I think I have one of the screw on hub covers:)
    loudbang likes this.
  18. 6sally6
    Joined: Feb 16, 2014
    Posts: 1,104


    I'd do the same thing.........update with a V-8 (hey!.....a poem!) I'd go with something kinda snotty just so folks would know you did work to it! Keep the wheels. What about a SB Ford engine?! Just to drive the purist crazy.
    No kidd'in......don't change much.
  19. southcross2631
    Joined: Jan 20, 2013
    Posts: 3,741


    300 Ford 6 with a 5 speed. It will make way more power than that 235 could ever think of.
    Plenty of aftermarket support for the 300.
    Upgrade the brakes and suspension. Don't let anyone talk you into chopping it.
    kevinrevin and loudbang like this.
  20. tubman
    Joined: May 16, 2007
    Posts: 4,972


    I would upgrade the drivetrain to later Chevrolet components, but try to keep it as stock looking as possible (OK, a little suspension lowering would also be a good idea.) This will never be a "Hot Rod", no matter what you do, so you could have a driveable cool old car that most people would think is a restoration. When I was in high school in the fifties, a guy had a '31 Chevrolet 4 door that he did the exact same thing to and everybody liked that car. I am quite prejudiced in favor of 300 Ford sixes, and with all of the SBC's in early Fords, it would be a reasonable move.

    Anybody from the west Minneapolis suburbs remember "Esos del Lago"?
    loudbang likes this.
  21. Never2old
    Joined: Oct 14, 2010
    Posts: 636

    from so cal

    Some years ago I built a 30 Chevy 2 door and drove it from San Diego to the Tulsa nationals. It had all of the original trim which dressed it up nicely.
    I had the axle dropped and put early 50s Chevy spindles and brakes in it.
    A 283 and Powerglide and 10 bolt worked perfectly for me. I never was one for taking pictures, sorry.

    Sent from my iPhone using H.A.M.B.
    loudbang likes this.
  22. Griznant
    Joined: Jan 4, 2010
    Posts: 93


    I really appreciate the replies. Thank you!

    Well, the 235 is going in since I have that already, it runs really well, and should *fit* without too much work. I have the T5 mated to it and have sorted out the clutch issue which was my remaining hurdle. I need to fab mounts to fit in place of the stock crossmembers but that won't be too bad. Even stock it has three times the power so it's going to be an improvement. I did contemplate putting my 322 nailhead in it for a bit, but the work required and irreversible mods threw that one out. It'll wait for a better candidate vehicle.

    I was only considering the 5x4.75" bolt-pattern wheels because my donor rear axle already has that. Going to the 6x5.5" to match the front axle is going to be a challenge but I'll look into it further. I don't want to use wheel adapters if I can avoid it. I do like the artillery wheels and was leaning that way also, but I need to figure out what tire sizes will fit the best and give it a better stance. They will be bias ply.

    I'm assuming there is an option for a dropped axle for Chevys that I just haven't discovered yet? Still learning on this. I know there isn't enough room to change the stock axle to an underslung set-up so I'm guessing a dropped axle is going to be my only option there. Again, all new to me.

    I don't want to permanently alter the car. It's survived this long so anything I do needs to be easily "undone" by the next caretaker of it which is why I'm saving all the old parts. I like to drive my cars and the stock setup just wasn't going to be very "fun" so that's what drove the need for the updates in power and brakes. Now it's down to getting it to look right with enough hot rod "flavor" to make people think it's more than just a parade car.

    Thanks again!
    tb33anda3rd, WB69 and Gasser 57 like this.
  23. 282doorUK
    Joined: Mar 6, 2015
    Posts: 43


    Like your approach, which is similar to mine, I would be careful about dropped Chevy axles, in the original manual it says heat should never be used to straighten bent Chevy axles, I don't think any axle can be dropped without heat, metallurgy can be tricky, so be mindful of that.
  24. Tri-power37
    Joined: Feb 10, 2019
    Posts: 510


    My kids are no longer living under my roof they are married and in their late 20s. I often wish I could go back in time when they lived here because we had a lot of fun. My point is this - enjoy the car and the time with them going to car stuff, cruises and ice cream cones and all that stuff because you will blink your eyes and that part of your life will be over.

    And when they have moved out you will have all the time in the world for big time upgrades - trust me . The pictures of you tearing down the road and their smiling faces says it all
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2020
    WB69 and 282doorUK like this.
  25. midroad
    Joined: Mar 8, 2013
    Posts: 279


    DSCF3706.jpg Here's an idea.
    craig b blue likes this.
  26. jnaki
    Joined: Jan 1, 2015
    Posts: 4,478


    Hey G,
    Your Chevy 4 door is already cool looking. If the present day look is what you like, instead of a finished, pristine hot rod, then do what you can to keep the spirit alive. When our granddaughter was little, she would have loved to be dropped off and picked up everyday in some old hot rod. But, her parents were they types that, for their daughter, the latest, modern safe SUV had to be the vehicle of choice. So, being happy grandparents, we complied as best as we could.

    When my wife and I were 20 somethings, we did not care about what our 1940 Ford Sedan Delivery looked like. It had the stance and reliability to go anywhere at any time. (No one could tell us what to do to it, as then it would not be our hot rod, but an accumulation of suggestions from other people.) That was our goal in a hot rod, make it ours. But, slowly, little things began to creep up to make the drive a little “shaky.”

    As functioning as the typical suspension was, even with new shocks, tires and alignment, the ride was still a little stiff. But as long as the A/C worked, we arrived at our family get-togethers in style. When everyone else had Chevy sedans, Ford station wagons and a big Oldsmobile 4 door family car, the 1940 Ford Sedan Delivery stood out like a bright sun.

    After riding around in a friend’s sedan delivery that had all new drive line, suspension and parts, there was no other choice. At the time, Jag or Corvette independent suspension was the provided way for a smoother ride. The fronts were a combination of modified stock ride with new components or a complete independent set up. Even our 20 something bodies could notice the difference back then. Independent suspension rode a lot better and cornered better for long road trips. Add in disc brakes and it was an old car on top of a modern suspension for a better riding hot rod.

    Now, before anyone goes off the deep end about traditional versus modern, the key element in your description (WANTS/NEEDS) is an “old car and has to keep up with modern traffic and safety.”

    “It has to be able to handle modern traffic and be "safer" for the family to cruise in. The kids really want to get dropped off at school using the suicide rear doors so they're all about that idea.”

    “but I really need this to be more street friendly with modern traffic.”

    It would be a stock appearing 1929 Chevy 4 door sedan with all of the modern suspension and safety included. So, an SBC motor, and drive line connected to a modern chassis made for your sedan, seems like the way to go. It may not happen, but there are so many reliable complete chassis manufacturers that one should fit your Chevy sedan. Yes, it will not be a traditional hot rod as per HAMB guidelines, but no one will be driving it except you and your family.

    If the outside appearance is “traditional”, and nothing as far as independent suspension is shown, for 90% of the viewing public, it is a traditional 1929 Chevy hot rod. Painted black with no chrome accessories under the fenders will be pretty hard to see or identify. Now, you have all the comforts and safety in handling as a modern vehicle. But, you will be cruising down the street and into those school drop off/pickup zones in a classy 1929 Chevy sedan.

    From the outside, people will notice how cool it is as a 1929 Chevy sedan. No one is going to crawl under the car to scrutinize what is under there. To them, it is a classic hot rod. Wheels? What is wrong with what you have on the sedan right now, if they will adapt to the new suspension and drive line. Once on the ground, then the different choices will come into play.


    It is not the traditional build, but it does meet all of your concerns. For the time and money that will be spent, back in those very early days, our son would have liked what I have described. Jump up many years later and our granddaughter would be in “a state of perfect happiness; an ideal or idyllic place.” Nirvana.

    But, of course, the choice is always yours and your time/pocketbook. A/C is not traditional other than open windows or wind wings, or cowl openings. But, it is your wife and family who will enjoy those hot days in comfort on those short drives or long road trips when we can all, “Get Back on The Road, Again.” YRMV…
  27. dart165
    Joined: Apr 15, 2005
    Posts: 704



    So I know that you're not necessarily asking, but when i saw your initial post, I got the what-if bug.
    I should start by saying I have no good advice on the HOW part, but a few ideas on a somewhat attainable final outcome of the look, since sketches are easier than fabrication:
    -I know no one was asking, but I lowered the lid by ~3" and moved the visor up.
    -I bobbed the fronts of the fenders, and added more louvers to the hood sides.
    -For rolling stock, i thought it'd be cool to take a set of those Rocket Solid Indy style wheels with staggered widths, painted the lighter green, wrapped in big and littles.
    ElmCityGeoff, RMR&C and Barn Hunter like this.
  28. Dart, I really like where you're going with the concept drawing, but would keep the original hood sides- they are a signature element of the Chevrolet look!
  29. Mimilan
    Joined: Jun 13, 2019
    Posts: 560


    Keep it a 6 cyl [ either a 235 or 261 with a 200-4R] or 250/292 if there is room
    Upgrade the brakes to hydraulic [ include rear end swap]
    12 volt conversion
    Restore the running boards
    Polish the paint.
    ADD Wide Whitewalls

    DRIVE IT [across America]
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2020
  30. dart165
    Joined: Apr 15, 2005
    Posts: 704


    Right on, I didn't realize that. Cant say that have much knowledge on that era of Chevy. :)

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