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53/54 Chevy Advice Needed...

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by HzEmall, Dec 12, 2012.

  1. HzEmall
    Joined: Nov 23, 2006
    Posts: 27

    HzEmall
    BANNED
    from Sumas, WA

    I'm going to be building a 53/54 Chevy Hardtop this spring and I am starting to do some research on what I need to get etc for that I need to do.

    So I have some questions...

    1. What is the length of the car (wheel hub to wheel hub)

    2. What is the width of the car from drum to drum (or whatever other point is relevant)

    3. I am building it on a budget and I want it to be be a low and slow cruiser but I want it to get up and go too, suspension wise...can the stock frame and suspension be easily and affordable to upgrade or should I look for a donor chassis (G-body for example) to put under it? (reason for Q #1 and 2)

    4. Don't what to go air ride so I want something that is going to handle really good when I want to get up and go or go on a road trip. What do you recommend for chassis work if I do use the stock frame?

    Any advice you can give would be great....thanks....
     
  2. HzEmall
    Joined: Nov 23, 2006
    Posts: 27

    HzEmall
    BANNED
    from Sumas, WA

    Robert Kotan did this rendering for us....
     

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  3. R Pope
    Joined: Jan 23, 2006
    Posts: 3,309

    R Pope
    Member

    Lowering blocks out back and dropped uprights and maybe a cut coil up front. Disc brake kit too if you want.
    I have had my '54 hardtop since 1968, and never saw the need to "upgrade" the suspension. As said many times, it was good enough for 'Vettes until 1962!
     
  4. HzEmall
    Joined: Nov 23, 2006
    Posts: 27

    HzEmall
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    from Sumas, WA

    Thanks for the response but I am looking for something a little better then a 62 Vette in the handling dept :)
     

  5. 53sled
    Joined: Jul 5, 2005
    Posts: 5,818

    53sled
    Member
    from KCMO

  6. HzEmall
    Joined: Nov 23, 2006
    Posts: 27

    HzEmall
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    from Sumas, WA

    Free is always good.....

    Those frame really don't have much support cross member wise huh.....how is the actual frame for strength?
     
  7. HzEmall
    Joined: Nov 23, 2006
    Posts: 27

    HzEmall
    BANNED
    from Sumas, WA

    Anyone else have some advice?
     
  8. yetiskustoms
    Joined: May 22, 2009
    Posts: 1,930

    yetiskustoms
    Member

    It just depends what your Fab level is. I have a gbody under mine in The avitar. Although heavilyodified. But any frame swap would be some work. If i had The money i would do a heidts front end and a 4 link in The back on The same frame. I am building a 54 pontiac on a Chevy platform full Jim meyer racing chassis and its super nice but out of my league. There are tons of posabilities for that car, its just money and time.
     
  9. mrconcdid
    Joined: Aug 31, 2010
    Posts: 1,157

    mrconcdid
    Member
    from Florida

    Just as yetiskustom said, it all depends on what you want? how much money you have? and how skilled are you.

    Top of the line front end would be a dakota or jag front end followed by a mustang II then a stub from a donor (monte carlo or camero )

    Top of the line rear set up would be a true 4 link followed by a 2/3 link then leaf springs. with a nine inch or heavy duty 12 bolt rear.


    What are you building? a road race car? drag car? street car? lowrider?
    each of these stlye cars require a different set up.

    A full tube chassie would be nice to, but not nessary.

    I have a mustang II and leafs in the rear, it rides good and hooks up good too, I plan to change out the rear with a notch and a truck arm set up, but like I said it depends on what or how you are going to use the car.
    Frame swaps are alot harder than they appear.

    Godspeed
    MrC.
     
  10. monster
    Joined: Feb 1, 2008
    Posts: 209

    monster
    Member

    the wheelbase is 115"
     
  11. HzEmall
    Joined: Nov 23, 2006
    Posts: 27

    HzEmall
    BANNED
    from Sumas, WA

    I can weld and do Fab, I have a 86 Buick GN that I redid the whole stock frame, new mounts up front for coil overs, redid the whole back for coil overs, boxed the frame, re enforced it etc.

    I want to have a street cruiser but if I want to do a little autocross for fun I could (probably wouldn't, but hey...)

    I don't want to spend the money on a tube chassis or build one from scratch, would like to do coil overs front and rear and either 4link or trailing arm set up on the rear.

    I thought G-body frame only because I have already build one and I know it, but open to other options.
     
  12. HzEmall
    Joined: Nov 23, 2006
    Posts: 27

    HzEmall
    BANNED
    from Sumas, WA

    What mods did you have to do to the G-body chassis to make it fit?

    Thanks
     
  13. gas pumper
    Joined: Aug 13, 2007
    Posts: 2,956

    gas pumper
    Member

    I've been driving my 54 210 since the early 90's. Still has the vette front end:D. I replaced the worn parts years ago and grease it every thousand miles so I never have to go thru that again. Dropped uprights and blocks in the rear. Still on the orig springs. Radial tires, fresh shocks and added a rear sway bar. Bigger front bar from a late Nova. Rear from a late Nova, too. Higher compression 235 with a mild cam. Rides real well, handles real well, Not road course well, but WAY better than it was when high and wandering.

    It's a very comfortable road car. Smooth riding and good driving position. I've been all over the East with it. A good body design that lets you ride with the windows down and not get blasted by the air flow. And enough air over the windshield so the Rain-X works.
     
  14. fastcar1953
    Joined: Oct 23, 2009
    Posts: 2,626

    fastcar1953
    Member

    most g bodies are 116 inch wheelbase. yours is 115 inch. the g body frame goes wide at the firewall to back wheels. requires new trunk floor. inner rear wheelwells will need work. new body mounts. new radiator support. front inner fenders will need work. it is alot of work for the gain. keep original frame add motor mounts and front suspension of choice. plenty rear options also.
     
  15. deeddude
    Joined: Aug 30, 2011
    Posts: 127

    deeddude
    Member

    Every resource I've found show the rear track width to be almost 2" wider than the front. 56.69" front track width and 58.75" rear track width. Chevrolet didn't start running the wider fronts until sometime later.

    B-bodied cars have the 116" wheel base. G-bodies have a 108" wheel base and about a 58" track width.

    Too lower the car on a budget. Front: cut two coils off the springs and step the a-arms. Search the HAMB for the instructions. Rear: 3" Blocks and remove a leaf from the pack. You'll get about 5" both front and rear. You'll end up with something like this.

    [​IMG]

    As far as the get up and go. you can go mild or wild, I dualled the exhaust and new intake and holley 2 brl. carburetor and HEI ignition all on the stock 235. Moves mine OK.
     
  16. HzEmall
    Joined: Nov 23, 2006
    Posts: 27

    HzEmall
    BANNED
    from Sumas, WA

    Awesome look!

    For get up and go I will do a LS motor in it, detailed to look like a old Olds Rocket motor, 4bbl etc The Rocket valve covers with the center hold down for the wires could be made a little bigger and hide the coil packs easily.
     
  17. Chevy54
    Joined: Sep 27, 2009
    Posts: 1,413

    Chevy54
    Member
    from Orange, CA

    Depends on how much cash you want to part with too. Moderate spending... Id say put a bolt in (chassis engineering inc) front end with V8 mounts on it already..dropped spindles then for some easy fab work move your rear leafs to the the inside of your frame and re-locate the shackles up high and box them out inside the trunk compartment, simple easyand low. Then all you need is any sbc motor/trans combo, rear end and drive shaft. So many options tho!?
     
  18. five4cruiser
    Joined: Dec 13, 2012
    Posts: 39

    five4cruiser
    Member

    Thats a great lookin 54. I have one to. But its green. What size wheels and tires are you runnin? And how is it lowered? Love the stance and patina. Wouldnt change a thing. Thanks.
     
  19. chopolds
    Joined: Oct 22, 2001
    Posts: 5,968

    chopolds
    Member
    from howell, nj
    1. Kustom Painters

    Unfortunately, your list of "wants" are going to have to be comprimised. You can't have great handling, and a great ride, you can't have real low and great ride, and you can't do all this without an investment of money, time, effort and talent. It's all going to be just "some" of what you want, not all!
    That said, the nicest car I've owned, in terms of ride vs.comfort, vs. handling vs lowness, was my 54 Chevy.
    I originally started building it for a friend, who was on a super-tight budget. I was doing the welding/fab work while he did the mechanics, and paid off his labor to me doing mechanics on my customer cars.
    The plan I came up with was to use a donor car....coincidentally, it turned out to be a 1980 Monte. We used everything possible to update the car, make it reliable, safe, low and decently perfoming.
    SInce it would be too difficult to do a whole chassis swap, I cut off the G body chassis and and subbed it under the 54. What a big job! I wanted to keep the kick-up of the G body frame, so I made the cuts just behind the firewall. Since the G body was already widening out at that point, I decided to cut off the top and bottoms planes of the chassis, and narrow the rails to fit the 54 chassis. It wasn't any great feat of engineering, but took lots of time to make new tops and bottoms, and carefully keep everything straight, plumb, and centered. It was the hardest part of the build.
    But in the end, the car was the best handling/riding old car I've owned. Usually my cars are so low, the comprimised ride and handling, but this one was a great combination of all of them.
    We also used the Monte rear, steering column, radiator (custom built rad support), wiper system, and other parts.
    The only thing I probably should have done was "C" the rear frame rails, as this is the thing that defines the lowness you can go on the 50's Chevies. 2-3 inches would have made me happier with the lowness of the car, but as I said, the car rode, handled, stopped, and steered like a new car.
     

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  20. deeddude
    Joined: Aug 30, 2011
    Posts: 127

    deeddude
    Member

    Thanks. 205/75-15 on stock 15x5 rims. I lowered it as discribed in reply #15 above. I modified the stock suspension, search stepped a-arms here on the HAMB for the how to on the front.
     
  21. HzEmall
    Joined: Nov 23, 2006
    Posts: 27

    HzEmall
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    from Sumas, WA

    I have money to build it with, just don't want to sink a fortune into it, not going to half ass it either. I want to do it right the first time. I only build cars the right way and I am very very very anal about the smallest details. I just don't want to put a Art Morrison frame under it if I can spend a lot less and mod the stock one or swap it for something else and achieve what I want.

    I'm Scottish so I am cheap, but not about to sacrifice anything to save a buck :)
     
  22. yetiskustoms
    Joined: May 22, 2009
    Posts: 1,930

    yetiskustoms
    Member

    I have a bunch of pics of The gbody fram swap in my gallery. I did mine to make it as low as possible. At first all i really needed to do was notch The Rear trunk floor and make front core Support/bumper brackets. THE body holes line up on The frame and you just have to drill holes. I did this at first.
    But..... THE frame hung down to much and was an inch to long. Also had steering issues when aired out not to mention steering Box issues. So......... I shortened The frame. Notched The railes so The body mounts could sit lower, i z'ed The front, narrowed The front 2 1/2", converted to rack and pinion, built c notches, boxed The frame, ect. Basically an overload of mods to get what i wanted. Mostly just labor, but a lot of it. In hindsight, i would have clipped and modified The frame with gambino style stuff, but i had fun. Thats what matters.

    Time is money though. I have a full roller Jim meyer racing Chassis under a customers Car at my Shop that is pretty top shelf. I like it and would go that route if money allowed. Also check out shwats racing- they do auto cross stuff and its super nice. I have done 2 sema cars on their Chassis and they fit pretty good. Amazing ride. And of course Art morrison is great. If its not a money thing, get one of The mentioned roller set ups. Save your self a ton of time and greif and use something engineered to fit and perform. Time is money. Good luck
     
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  23. yetiskustoms
    Joined: May 22, 2009
    Posts: 1,930

    yetiskustoms
    Member

    Also Art morrison is in your neck of The woods and Jim meyer is in Lincoln city oregon. Close and efficient. When i ordered mine it took 8 months though, so order ahead.
     
  24. Dane
    Joined: May 6, 2010
    Posts: 1,351

    Dane
    Member
    from Soquel, CA

    If you want good handling on a budget it's not easy. All of us have a different idea of what "good handling" means. Many cars that run good on the street will display all kinds of limitations on a road course.

    I don't know if it will fit your car, but for low budget and good handling, transplant the front and rear from an early 80's Jag.

    Then comes the easy cheap stuff often overlooked. The lower it is the better it handles, period. The lower the center of gravity the better the car will handle until it starts limiting suspension travel.

    Lighter is always better and loosing lots of weight can transform the car into a real killer.

    Weight balance - the closer to 50/50 the more the car will feel stable, especially entering corners and when in a 4 wheel drift.

    Tires make the biggest difference of anything you can do to make a car handle. Big sidewalls mean sloppy handling. On big sidewall tires you can feel the tire sidewall rolling under after initial steering input and you have to wait to make any changes until they "set" That throws away chance of good handling. Same goes for compound. Sticky is better.

    That's the easy stuff, then the nit picky shit like spring rates and swaybar balance.
     
  25. HzEmall
    Joined: Nov 23, 2006
    Posts: 27

    HzEmall
    BANNED
    from Sumas, WA

    Having fun is important, locking myself away in the shop with a grinder and welder is stress relief for me, so time isn't money in that sense for me.

    How much was the Meyer Chassis?

    Would love to see more pics of your G-body swap (were only a few in your gallery)
     
  26. HzEmall
    Joined: Nov 23, 2006
    Posts: 27

    HzEmall
    BANNED
    from Sumas, WA

    Thanks Dane, what model Jag would you recommend looking at?

    I want to do larger steel looking wheels on it rather then a 15" or something
     
  27. yetiskustoms
    Joined: May 22, 2009
    Posts: 1,930

    yetiskustoms
    Member

    Mid 80s jag. This is agood option too. There are build threads on here. Cheap.
     
  28. yetiskustoms
    Joined: May 22, 2009
    Posts: 1,930

    yetiskustoms
    Member

    Like many Chassis rollers, price is based on options. With axle an brake upgrades it was around 14k. They also made mounts for an ls3/700r4. Alot of money, but all top shelf Parts and quality. The Chassis is an important part of The build, a platform for The rest. It will make any Car better and stand up to any abuse.
    I lost a ton of pics of The 54 build. Sucks. Sorry. I have also used an 86 buick gn front clip on a 54 frame. Fit real well. And The 605 steering Box helps. I think there is one crappy pic in my randoms of that car. I have had and built more 53-54s than i can remember lol. S10 clips are not bad either. Everything is available for them in terms of Parts and upgrades. A little narrow, but spacers can be used if nessesary. Its easier to go wider than narrower after The fact in my book.
    s10s share many Parts as The gbodys too in terms of front suspension.
     
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2012
    martin53 likes this.

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