Without exception, building a customized classic truck from the ground up is always a challenge, but when it's all said and done the rewards are well worth the energy expended. It doesn't matter which make of truck a person chooses to construct, the process always begins with the chassis and progresses until it's time to turn the key and hit the road smiling.
Careful planning is essential because each decision made during the early stages of chassis setup, if wrong, is subject to snowball into runaway hours with additional expense. The difference thorough planning provides will make the experience more enjoyable, with better results. Whether it's the owner/builder, or the guy charged with construction, someone is going to have to research and find the right answers to ensure the truck will handle as desired and live up to the owner's expectations.
We have compiled CCT's 2009 Rolling Chassis Guide for the builder with a sufficient budget to be able to incorporate all of the latest technologies available, and complete the construction of his truck within a minimum amount of time. We mention this because the average timespan to build a customized classic truck, from the ground up, is around 5 years, and a lot of it is spent modifying and preparing the stock chassis. It's a simple matter of how old do you want to be when you can drive your truck and how much can you spend to make it happen? The next decision one has to make before they start the build is to set the stance. Ride height dictates the difference between being cool and looking dorky. It means how high, or low, do you want your truck to sit, and how will the profile look. The standard for determining lowness is measured in how many inches the frame is dropped from stock height, for example 4 inches in the front and 6 inches in the rear is a typical drop. After stance there are additional matters to consider, such as the type of suspension, steering, and brakes to be specified. The different types of suspension range from airbags, which provide adjustable ride height, and non-adjustable static setups such as coil, coilover, and leaf springs. Power steering or manual is available in both kinds of steering, recirculating ball, or rack-and-pinion. For braking one can specify power or non-boosted, and disc or drum.
Before buying a rolling chassis, all of these options need to be considered-and decided upon-but don't be shy if you have any questions, because any one of the following manufacturers will be glad to help you set your chassis up. Just give them a call and tell them what your needs are and they will help you to make the right choices.
Renowned chassis leader, Total Cost Involved, is one business that has its hand in all popular American applications, including classis trucks. For years, Total Cost Involved has been building direct replacement rolling chassis for both Chevy ('55-59) and Ford ('53-56) trucks. Total Cost Involved's frames are designed around 8-inch fully boxed framerails. They also feature a 1 1/2x1 1/2-inch fully boxed square crossmember. For strength and look, each chassis is TIG welded together. Although chassis are designed after factory setups, Total Cost Involved does offer step-up rails on their chassis for those looking to drop their truck. Besides building a quality replacement piece, Total Cost Involved also offers customers various options to suit specific needs and wants. For instance, when it comes to suspension options Total Cost Involved offers air-ride suspension (front and rear), custom IFS, Mustang II IFS, rear four-link with coilovers, and leaf-spring rear suspension. Also available are front and rear disc brake options.
Total Cost Involved Engineering
For the past few decades, Fatman Fabrications has been building top quality chassis for the classic truck marketplace. Since they opened shop in 1985, they now offer a chassis for many popular trucks, such as '37-59 Chevys and '32-66 Fords. Each chassis is built using 3/16-inch wall rectangular 1020 SAE steel tubing, generally in a 2x5-inch size for strength. Mandrel bent sections join to the main framerails with internally doubled joints to provide very nice kick-ups over the rearend. Fatman's chassis feature Stainless IFS, standard on all chassis, along with 9-inch rearends mounted on coilovers and rear 4-bars. Engine and trans mounts, and floor mounted pedal assemblies, are also standard. Each chassis also includes the proper body, bed, bumper, and sheetmetal mounts for easy fit. Besides the standard options, Fatman will also outfit your chassis with QA1 Pro coilovers; Air Ride Technologies airbags; and Wilwood, Baer, or ECI brakes.
Chris Alston's Chassisworks has been building custom chassis since 1975, and still to this day can provide anyone with a chassis suited for their vehicle. Although Chassiswork's doesn't stock replacement chassis for the truck market, they will build one to order for Ford, Chevy, and Dodge trucks, '48 to present. All chassis are manufactured from mandrel bent 4x2x0.120-inch box tube. All frames can be ordered factory welded with 41/2- or 6-inch frame clearance, or they can be sent in an unassembled kit form complete with assembly diagrams. Chassis feature 4-inch exhaust ports, IFS, and rack-and-pinion steering. From there options run deep, including coilovers, Air Ride Technology Shockwaves, springs, brake kits, FAB9 housing, ladder bar, four-link rear suspension, antiroll bars, and more.
Chris Alston's Chassisworks
No Limit Engineering builds custom chassis for various trucks, including '47-54 Chevy, '55-59 Chevy, '48-52 F-1 Ford, '53-56 F-100, and '67-72 Chevy. Depending on the vehicle, all No Limit chassis are 2x4-inch or 2x6-inch main rails. All rails, crossmembers, and supports are 3/16-inch thick material. Most chassis feature round tube sub-structures for additional bracing and strength. All of their chassis include: body, bed, core support, motor, transmission, and bumper mounts-to make the buildup process as easy as possible. All base chassis include No Limit's Wide Ride IFS. However, for those looking to go the extra distance, No Limit offers their Fatbar 4-Bar. No Limit also offers high-kick rear framerails at no extra charge. Other options include air-ride suspension, big brakes, fuel tanks, plumbing packages, and custom powdercoating in over 50 colors.
No Limit Engineering
Newman Car Creations incorporates modern suspension technologies into classic trucks-specifically '55-59 Chevy and '53-56 Ford trucks-by fabricating chassis to except late-model Corvette suspension. They accomplish this by starting with an oversized boxed framerail that has been purpose built and contoured for maximum rigidity, while keeping safety at the top of their list. The aluminum-intensive Corvette suspension is the core of Newman Car Creations conversion. By using the stock geometry of the Corvette suspension, they are able to take advantage of GM's multi-million dollar research and development effort that delivers the well-mannered and performance-based ride you will experience. Newman Car Creations also utilizes mono leaf springs to cut down on unsprung weight, and proper use of C4 suspension, as well as a Dana 44 differential housing and cover. Newman also gives customers the option to run any motor and transmission with specific mounting pads for each setup.
Newman Car Creations
Chevs Of The 40's specializes in '37-54 Chevrolet cars and trucks. In the midst of their vast assortment of parts and accessories, you'll find direct replacement chassis for '47-53. The Chevs of the 40's chassis feature new rails and a full Heidts frontend setup, which includes Heidts Mustang II crossmember, Heidts Tubular A-arms, 11-inch vented rotors, calipers, and spindles. Out back the chassis feature a Ford 9-inch rearend-with axles-and a parallel rear leaf-spring kit. The chassis also come complete with a tubular "K" member, motor mounts, brake pedal with power booster and master cylinder, transmission mounts, and manual rack-and-pinion. Options include body mounts, running board mounts, battery tray, brake lines, powdercoating, and a power rack-and-pinion.
Chevs of the 40's
Street Rod Engineering has been manufacturing custom frames and chassis for classic trucks for 20 years. Among that group are chassis for '48-52 Ford F-1 trucks. The Street Rod Engineering chassis are fully boxed and have tubular crossmembers. They're also TIG welded together for strength and looks. The chassis feature a solid axle out back, with either four-link or trailing arm-type rear suspension, and Mustang II front suspension. Chassis are custom built to order, so a buyer can specify exactly how they want it built. Street Rod Engineering also offers chrome, stainless steel, and powdercoating options. They also give customers several steering and brake options, including the entire Wilwood brake lineup. Also available is a coilover or air-ride suspension option.
Street Rod Engineering, Inc.
Heinzman Street Rod Shop is no stranger to building truck chassis. Since the shop opened their doors years ago, they have been building affordable, quality, street friendly chassis ready to go the minute they arrive. Nowadays, Heinzman has expanded their repertoire to cover more than two decades of trucks, ranging from '37-59 Chevys and '28-56 Fords. Their basic chassis feature a brand-new Heidts Mustang II setup with tubular A-arms and 11-inch disc brakes. The chassis are also outfitted with motor mounts. Out back, the chassis receive a Ford 9-inch with parallel leaf springs. To increase handling, chassis also receive a front and rear sway bar package. For those looking to step up, Heinzman also offers other various options, including a coilover setup.
Heinzman Street Rod Shop
Although this next manufacturer is dubbed The Roadster Shop, they are much more than just roadsters. Besides being in the street rod world, The Roadster Shop also branches out into the muscle car and truck world. In fact, they build chassis for many of the trucks that grace the pages of CCT, which includes '28-41 and '53-56 Ford trucks, '47-53 Chevy, '54-55 1st Series Chevy, and '55-59 Chevys. All chassis feature fully boxed fabricated framerails that are strong and true to original form. They also feature a tubular dual-level center crossmember, which is utilized for added strength and they include a drop-out trans mount. Chassis come complete with motor and trans mounts set up to each customer's specs, and are test fitted in the jig with an actual block and transmission. Complete Stage III chassis are designed to be direct bolt-up units with all stock cab, bed, and core support mounts, as well as fender, running board, and bumper mounts utilizing all stock bracketry. The Roadster Shop also offers various packages for both show and go, such as chrome and polish packages, IFS, traditional drop axle (pre-1934 only), Wilwood disc brake upgrade, brake line packages, sway bar packages, air-ride, coilovers, Ford 9-inch rearends, IRS, Pro-Street options, lowered ride height, and multiple stance options.
The Roadster Shop
Art Morrison Enterprises began as a full-service drag-race chassis building shop, but as the years ticked away, they soon realized that mail-order products for the hot rod community was the hot ticket. Nowadays, AME has a plethora of performance suspension parts and applications, including replacement chassis for virtually any truck an enthusiast has. Morrison offers a unique chassis that has an ultra-rigid "backbone" that provides builders with the perfect foundation for any classic truck project. Their engineers start with a big 2x6-inch main framerail, complementing it with a mandrel-formed 2x4-inch front and rear substructure. The chassis is all fixture welded to assure the perfect alignment of all suspension components. In addition to being designed for the exact year/make/model truck, Morrison can build in the exact ride height desired to obtain a contemporary stance. The chassis also features thru-frame exhaust passages, which allow the truck to have a lower overall stance, while still maintaining ample ground clearance. When it comes to suspension, Morrison also offers several packages, including C6 Corvette IFS, Pro-Street back half, custom set ride height, and air-ride suspension.
Art Morrison Enterprises Inc.
Whether it be a direct replacement or universal truck chassis, Jim Meyer Racing Products has an application to suit any truck out there, ranging from '28-87. In terms of direct replacement chassis, Jim Meyer Racing products offers a chassis for '55-59 and '60-72 Chevy trucks. All others trucks can employ one of Jim Meyer's top-end universal, heavy-duty truck chassis. Each chassis is a jig-built mandrel-bent chassis with 2x4x0.120-inch wall box-tubing with 2x5-inch main framerails. Their custom jig-built chassis feature stock cab mounts, core support mounts, and front bed mounts all in the stock locations. The chassis also move the fuel tank out of the cab to the rear of the frame. The chassis also include heavy-duty IFS with an 11-inch GM brake package, 1 1/4x0.156-inch wall lower A-arms and 1x0.156-inch wall upper A-arms suspended by aluminum adjustable coilover shocks. The 2x4x0.188-inch wall front crossmember holds a Mustang '79-93 manual rack-and-pinion steering unit. Another cool factor to Jim Meyer chassis are the fact they feature adjustable stance, of about 4 inches. The package also includes a 9-inch housing with four-link, Panhard rod and coilover shocks with adjustable valving. Other key features include an adjustable trans crossmember-for any GM trans-and either side- or pedestal-style motor mounts utilizing 1 1/2-inch diameter urethane bushings for both GM small-block and big-block motors. Options above and beyond the standard chassis include custom-width 9-inch rearends, large diameter disc brake kits, steering linkage kits, master cylinder/booster kits, as well as other industry options.
Jim Meyer Racing Products
If early Ford trucks are your game, then Speedway Motors is a name you won't want to forget. When it comes to searching for a '35-40 Ford truck chassis, Speedway has you covered. Speedway's '35-40 Ford frame assembly features fabricated, fully boxed framerails that are laser cut from 11-gauge plate and welded on a jig. It also features a Mustang II front crossmember, which is TIG welded for optimum strength and appearance; as is the tubular center crossmember assembly, which also incorporates a transmission mount and brake pedal mount and arm. Body mounting nuts are welded in the frame for clean, easy assembly. The frame is set up to accept Mustang II-style independent front suspension components, and can accommodate various styles of rear suspensions.
Speedway Motors also offers everything you need to turn your frame into a rolling chassis, including Mustang II IFS parts, rear suspension kits, rear axles, engine mounts, and brake components. If your tastes fall for earlier Ford trucks, Speedway also has chassis for '28-31 Ford Model A, '32 Ford, and '33-34 Ford trucks.