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1946 Buick super 8,frame swap

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Flexo, Dec 19, 2010.

  1. Flexo
    Joined: Oct 6, 2009
    Posts: 14

    from Maine

    Hi guys and gals
    I just bought a 1946 Buick super 8 4 door. I would like to upgrade the suspension, steering and breaking. Should I be looking for a rolling frame and just swap everything over?

    What would fit ?
  2. 40StudeDude
    Joined: Sep 19, 2002
    Posts: 9,211


    No need to find a new frame...unless that one is rusted thru. Those old frames would support a Sherman tank body...that front suspension can be rebuilt and possibly you could add disc brakes (the correct way of spelling "breaks"). The old steering box can possibly be rebuilt as well.

    AND heard that old saying: "Hammer to fit, paint to match"...anything would's all relative.

    Depending on what you're capable of, consider a sub frame...IF you're good at welding. A Mustang could be good, but that's a heavy car...I don't know if I'd go that way. Since all of that original stuff is closed drive shaft, find a late model Buick donor and swap everything's a lot of work, be prepared.

  3. You really need to be a little more specific with your question.
    Are you planning on changing the original engine/transmission or keeping it?
    If you are keeping it, you will have a major issue with the transmission and rear end being a torque tube. If you are not familiar with this, this is a driveshaft enclosed in an exterior tube. This exterior tube is also designed as part of the rear suspension, restricting fore and aft movement of the rear end. So, in effect, the engine and transmission is part of the rear suspension being the three point forward mount of the whole thing. Or you can swap possibly some later model GM transmission parts, possibly Oldsmobile to it and make it an open driveline, thereby either using a four link or leaf spring rear suspension.

    Frame swapping on this car also will entail either fabricating a mount to reattach the brake master cylinder to the frame as this car does not have a suspended pedal mounted to the firewall, or constructing a pedal support to mount to the firewall, again not insurmountable.

    Do you have access to a way to safely and easily and without damage lift and lower the body numerous times until it is all done? Speaking from experience, some nights we lifted and lowered it multiple times during my build that is still going on at this time over a year after inception.

    Experience in welding and fabrication? You are going to need it. My project has three to four people involved, three of them professional techincians one a hot rodder since the mid 1960's, myself a 40+ year hot rodder, biker and dealership parts counterman. So this is not our first rodeo so to speak.

    My personal build is a 55 Buick mounted on a 78 Buick LeSabre frame. We modified the front frame horns, cut and extended the frame by 6", and cut the original rear frame behind the rear coil springs and built new rails to better fit the configuration of the body. Moved the 455 Buick engine rearward 5 1/2" to better center it in the engine compartment. We are not the fastest builders, we only work on it once a week. But after a year, we now have the body bolted back down, the driveline in, all suspension and brakes rebuilt. We still have to mount a brake pedal and fab the firewall mounts, mount a steering column, wire it, mount a fuel tank and remount the front clip to the frame and fab mounts for that. IMO, we are about half to two thirds on the way to being able to be driven.

    Not trying to dissuade you, but be real sure of your abilities before you start on this. Those big Buicks of that vintage were awesome, and I'd hate to see it turn up as a basket case. I get frustrated with this build at times myself. Just ask my S-I-L to be, one of the participants. It's in his garage.......
  4. I also looked at subframing my car, but the aftermarket stubs using a Mustang II rack left me uneasy with the weight of the car and the 455 as I wanted to stay all Buick instead of the usual small block Chevy. Then we looked using the stock frame and putting an aftermarket disc brake conversion on it. Good idea, except it would still steer like a ocean liner. And with the previous damage to the rear of the frame and subsequent shoddy work, I decided that the frame swap was the only way to go. Fabbing the rear suspension, we were going to use leaf springs instead of aftermarket four links, I wanted to keep it simple as possible.

    To elaborate on the frame, I bought the car, it was at a house that the owner had inherited from his brother, and he knew nothing about it. It didn't look bad, and I never really looked under it carefully. I knew it had some repaired damage, but until I pulled the body from the frame last year did I know how much frame damage it had. Let's put it this way, they "finessed" the body to match the frame, end of story.
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  5. flynstone
    Joined: Aug 14, 2005
    Posts: 1,521


    im in the middle of doing a change over rite now or should i say my mechanic ......74 omega sub frame,74 omega buick motor and trans, yes they used a buick motor in the omega from the factory, and we are going to use a impala rear end so we can keep the wide bolt pattern and use the stock 16s,, going to restud the frt to large bolt pattern (know anyone who does that?) here are some pics....anyone want to buy the old stuff straight 8 fact dual carb?

    Attached Files:

  6. Flexo
    Joined: Oct 6, 2009
    Posts: 14

    from Maine

    Thanks guys
    the frame is fine and I got her running last month.
    It sounds like rebuilding the front end will be the simple rout.
    All I really want it the body because I love the look. That and I want her to go fast
  7. Something like 95% of all frame swaps end up at the swap meet for sale unfinished when the owner realizes he's in way over his head, or are seen for sale endlessly because they didn't quite turn out right and need a lot of work to correct them that no one wants to get into.

    One thing you can consider to help the car is you may be able to adapt a later Buick rear gearset to get something more highway-friendly, I think up to '53 can be swapped into older rearends. IIRC a Super is the big body (Roadmaster) on the small (Special) running gear.

    These Buicks are a headache to rod because a motor swap means a rearend swap, and that means engineering a new rear suspension as the torque tube is what locates the rearend in the car - without the motor in, the rearend is free to move forward or backward. But they have a coil spring rear suspension, it's hard to improve much on it with something newer.

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