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Straight Axle 55 Chevys do they drive good

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by harrys55chevy@bellsouth.n, Jan 17, 2012.

  1. Iam wanting to put a straight axle under my 55 chevy ... anybody out there with one ... If so do you like it that way or had you rather left it alone ...
  2. RDR
    Joined: May 30, 2009
    Posts: 1,355


    probably works good going straight for a 1/4 mile....
    seem to remember a '55 with straight axle tipping over by the Oregon capital building in Salem sometime late 60s early 70s and the legislaters almost pushed a bill through that would have made any modifications to a vehicle illegal.
  3. Oh Boy !!! it sure drives good like it is ... guess that might not be a good idea after all ... thanks RDR
  4. RodStRace
    Joined: Dec 7, 2007
    Posts: 2,650


    Depends on a LOT of stuff, but unless you lower the center of gravity and have the spring rates, shocks and steering all optimized, it will probably be worse.
    Having it up in the air with stiff springs (looks cool) will not be as nice.
    It can be driven this way, many do.
    However, it is not the same and you have to drive it differently.

  5. 39 Ford
    Joined: Jan 22, 2006
    Posts: 1,558

    39 Ford

    The answer is all depends, there are many variables, alignment, tire size, how high is it, you get the picture. One thing is sure it will not ride like a modern car.
  6. willys_truck
    Joined: Mar 4, 2005
    Posts: 781


    A lot and I do mean a LOT of the gassers ran the independant front suspentions. I am building a 60's style 55 chevy. I am running fenderwell headers, and a lot of the gasser have to's, but I am running independant front. If you like how it rides and drives, make it simple, keep what you got.
  7. 1320/150
    Joined: Oct 9, 2009
    Posts: 647


  8. pinkynoegg
    Joined: Dec 11, 2011
    Posts: 1,136


    There is a reason that the manufactures went to independents.....If you put a straight axle under it then you will be going back in technology. Yes, it does look cool. No, it will not handle nearly as good as it did without the straight axle. My two cents are to just leave it be if you plan on street driving. If you plan on having a drag only car then go for it.
  9.'d be real nice if you could find one to test drive, then you'd have a good idea if you'd like it or not.
  10. pug man
    Joined: Apr 9, 2007
    Posts: 1,010

    pug man
    from louisiana

    If it drives good now, it won't after you put a straight axle under it... Leave it alone!! My 2 cents.....
  11. Rich Rogers
    Joined: Apr 8, 2006
    Posts: 2,018

    Rich Rogers

    I'm thinkin of doing the same thing to my 55. The front axle will have slightly longer springs and just a little higher front end height than stock and the axle is from a 67 chevy van. I'm hoping to use the cross-steer setup and original steering box and NOT have it handle like total crap................guess I'll be finding out
  12. Johnny Gee
    Joined: Dec 3, 2009
    Posts: 9,364

    Johnny Gee
    from Downey, Ca

  13. Larry T
    Joined: Nov 24, 2004
    Posts: 7,669

    Larry T

    If you get it right, it'll probably drive like a 50's pickup. If you don't, not that good.
    Larry T
  14. squirrel
    Joined: Sep 23, 2004
    Posts: 49,513


    I think my 50s pickups with solid axles drive ok, but I have the original suspension in my belair.

    If you set it up right, it'll drive ok. There are several ways to do it wrong, and I think that's what gives straight axle cars a bad rep
  15. Gasr57
    Joined: Sep 3, 2007
    Posts: 236

    from Ohio

    Has anyone that has bashed the straight axle cars ever owned or driven one? Not just hear say from your cousin's uncle's brother's neighbor. When set up correctly they drive fine and are perfectly safe. Back in the day alot of axles where not installed correctly and resulted in poor driving and unsafe cars. Yes I do own and drive a '57 Chevy with a '67 Chevy van axle that is set up correctly and it DOES drive perfectly fine. I have put alot of miles on this car with no issue. No it doesn't corner like a Corvette or ride like a Caddy but it's not suppose to it a '57 Chevy. Just do your research. There are alot of people on here that can help you. Four thing that help drivability are correct caster angle, stiff springs or swaybar, good shocks, steering damper. If you are going to do it do it right and don't expect it to be something it's not. Larry T is correct it is very similar to driving a 50's pickup. And to answer your last question I love my car the way it is and NO I wouldn't change my car back because of the way it drives. It's your car build it the way YOU want it because you are the only one that has to be happy with it.
  16. Chevy55
    Joined: Nov 6, 2008
    Posts: 409

    from Nebraska

    If you decide to do this make sure you get 6 to 8 degrees caster, top of spindle towards the firewall and try to get your steering arm as parallel to the axle as you can to help prevent bump steer. Mine drives different than my A arm car but not difficult to drive or hard to handle at all. I have run it 110 mph in the quarter too.
  17. BBYBMR
    Joined: Apr 27, 2007
    Posts: 613


  18. Johnny Gee
    Joined: Dec 3, 2009
    Posts: 9,364

    Johnny Gee
    from Downey, Ca

    For those of us that still have our A-frames what we, at least for me our saying is. To many people are jumping into the straight axel thing just because. Yes they drive differantly and will ride just fine when done correctly. Yes do build your car as you want, but not because you think it takes an axle to have a Gasser.
  19. TDWZ28
    Joined: Sep 18, 2007
    Posts: 152

    from Michigan

    I have a Jim Meyer Racing axle in my 55 Nomad. It drives great. I have ridden in some home-built cars with axles that are scarey to drive. Just like everything else, do it right and you won't have any problems. In fact, my Nomad is a blast to drive.
  20. Don's Hot Rods
    Joined: Oct 7, 2005
    Posts: 8,319

    Don's Hot Rods
    from florida

    Every old car or modified car has some compromises. No matter how we say they "ride like a Cadillac and corner like a Ferrari", in reality they don't. But that doesn't mean they are ill handling either, just different. We just have to accept their limitations and drive them accordingly. And, as mentioned, there are straight axles that have been installed correctly and then there are ones that are out of whack. If done right, like Shakey Puddin' , the car will handle very well.

    Eric Satterfield likes this.
  21. I just joined THE HAMB two days ago ... I never thought it would be so much help ... You guys are the BEST ... Thanks !!!!
  22. yruhot
    Joined: Dec 17, 2009
    Posts: 564


    I put a straight axle in my 55 cause I was building a gasserstyle car from the ground up. Car had been hit and the right front wheel was into the firewall so you can imagine how the frame looked. Found a web site for a car club in Minasota that does a tonof gasser stuff and did a 55 and a 56 chevy straight axle conversion. They used early chevy pick up stuff. I followed that bog on mine and it worked out pretty good. If I did it again I think I would look for the 56 and newer axle and springs. They are more parell as the earlier ones are pinched together a bit in the front from the factory. Used a manual s-10 steering box. had springs rearched to 4" arch and did a cross steering. used tri-five steering arms, they bolt straight on to the truck spindles.tire rods and drag ling from speedway. Speed way shocks, made own mounts for shocks and it nailed the right height from what I'm told. And yes I guess you would say it rides like an old pickup truck but thats ok I love old pickup trucks. Readers are right get the steering rods as parallel to the axle. mine has no bump steer. And still getting a little more caster in it. But went straight as an arrow at the drags I ran it in. Hope this helps. Oh yea I saw this guys 57 down in Laughlin and he was from New Mexico and his front end was jacked up quite a bit and he had the front stock spindles machined and lowered the spindles a couple of inches and it sat pretty far up in the front and the alignment looked like stock. Anybody heard of that Mod? YRUHOT
  23. They work fine. It's never going to corner like a sports car, but then neither did my 64 chevelle w/ stock everything. Face it, old cars with drum brakes, non power steering, etc is the price you pay to enjoy vintage.:)
    Everyone's taste is different. me... straight axle is the only way to go.
  24. nwbhotrod
    Joined: Oct 13, 2009
    Posts: 1,243

    from wash state

    Iam driving this 55 chevy to Good Guys in Scottsdale AZ 1500 miles in a few weeks would I do that with a Strait Axle under it

    Attached Files:

  25. roughneck424
    Joined: Jan 10, 2009
    Posts: 1,084


  26. RodStRace
    Joined: Dec 7, 2007
    Posts: 2,650


    1957 Ford Sedan
    Econoline front axle, rear axle and wheelwells moved forward 12".
    1" different WB each side, old reaction time trick.
    Was set up in the 60s, 10 second car. It was done right for the times.
    Bought it without engine/trans, stuffed a stock 460/C6 in it.
    Had 2.76 at first, then swapped to 4:10s.
    Got it into the 13s with that set-up.
    Manual steering and drum brakes, had a shift kit in the trans and about a foot of pipe between the header flange and the turbo mufflers with nothing behind.

    It was my daily driver for at least 6 months, owned it for ~ 4 years. Drove fine on the street, but could get hairy. It's called snap oversteer.
    No fast lane changes on the freeway, drive real careful when it's wet out.
    It held it's own lane, turned fine although at lower speeds and was not as bad as my 47 Chrysler or my A-108 in having to think ahead in traffic.
    It was a ball; loud, obnoxious, smelly, and powerful. You could hop in and drive it, but it was not the same as stock or mildly rodded.

    I'm not bashing a straight axle, but the OP's post was worded in a way that indicated concern about being able to drive it the same as it currently sits. That won't happen; it can be finessed so it's fairly close, but it will not ride or handle the same. It will be rougher over bumps and not corner as well. If it's set up like a typical gasser with a high stance and nose up, it will only increase this.
    Fun? HELL YES, but it is less 'normal' for a lack of a better term.
  27. roughneck424
    Joined: Jan 10, 2009
    Posts: 1,084


  28. Mr48chev
    Joined: Dec 28, 2007
    Posts: 29,781


    Well put. People who weren't around at the time don't understand that a real gas class car was any full bodied full fendered car that had a non stock engine in it. The 52 Vic that my stepfather had in the mid 50's that held the C/G record at the Ellensberg drag strip and a couple of others ran a 56 Tbird special engine and was "lowered" on both ends but it was a gas class car.
    The jacked up cars didn't get started until right after Ramchargers built the jacked up Mopar coupe/Sedan and had great success with it. then you started seeing everything jacked up sky high in the air.

    Still as with any modification to a street car a guy/gal has to ask themselves the questions of = How much do I plan on driving it, how far do I plan driving it and what limitations and discomforts am I willing to put up with on a regular basis?

    If it's done right the ride and handling shouldn't be much different than driving and riding in a lifted mini truck and we see those being driven every day or at least here locally we do. done wrong and it's a disaster waiting for a place to happen.

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