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Where do I start?

This is a discussion on Where do I start? within the Classic Muscle forums, part of the Vehicle Specific category; Hi Everyone! I have a pretty general question to help give me some ideas. I have a 1956 chevy hardtop ...

  1. #1
    want a muscle car now
    Join Date
    May 2006
    1956 Hardtop (in pieces)

    Where do I start?

    Hi Everyone!

    I have a pretty general question to help give me some ideas. I have a 1956 chevy hardtop (yes it is the 2 door hardtop) that I bought over 6 years ago and have had in storage. no time I am selling my house and would like to put part of the profits towards starting my project.

    What should I do?

    I bought the car with the original frame w/ a1972 nova clip (2 inches too short and wayyy out of square)

    I ran across a tri-five frame (bare) later and picked it up.

    What I would really like to do is take my time and do it right.

    I have seen these after market custom box frames with all the good stuff to make my car handle like a racecar for about 10-15k. Is it worth it?

    Also, what to do for the running gear? I have a rebuilt 4bolt 350 (the heads suck)w/ turbo 400 tranny.

    Do you think I could find a wrecked LS1 with a good frame and make it fit? I have no idea?

    I am looking for a start and I don't want to go down the wrong road.

    I would appreciate any advice!

  2. #2
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Los Angeles

    Spectra Red
    1984 Trans Am

    I think you need a systematic approach to this. Maybe answer these and go from there.

    1- how much do you have to spend?
    2- how much can you do yourself (versus hiring a shop to do)
    3- what do you want to end up with in the end? (drag car, pro touring, friday night cruiser, daily driver, etc..)

    aftermarket frames can be pricey like you say, but, I'd consider it if you are looking for a modern driver/ daily driver with good handling, etc. . you already have a messed up frame, it'll cost time/ money to get it fixed, or it'll also cost time/ money to build up the original (extra) you have now.
    Either way you have a 50 year old frame. who knows how much has rusted away internally or externally, how much it'll cost to fix, how much it has fatigued over the years, if it's true or has been in accidents and bent back, etc. Not to mention the aftermarket one is much more likely to be stronger, better welds/ more accurate and true, and they'll probably set it up for the drivetrain you plan to use saving you work elsewhere.

    If you're on a tight budget then I'd look into an aftermarket IFS for the original extra fram you have. Above all else I'd do anything I could to lose the modified frame with the nova clip. If they measured it wrong and set it up wrong, who knows what else is wrong with it?

    For comparison- I had the frame on my '57 plymouth Belvedere modified. I spent 8 grand or so on this. Of course they made new frame rails up front (so it looks "original" and the sheetmetal fit), set it up with modern suspension, brakes, anti sway bar and set it up for the drivetrain of my choice, but, this was only on the front half of the car.

    If you're interested for reference you can see the car online- I keep a project journal over at look up the project journal for "tuske427".

    As for engines- if you can afford an LS1 I highly reccomend it.

    I installed a 2002 LS1 into my 1984 Trans Am and i love it. better power, mileage, less weight, everything. It's just better all around in every regard. I drive it daily.

    I'm also installing one in my Belvedere for the same reasons as above, plus I got a great deal on it.

    BTW- they make adaptor plates for the LS1 that work on a standard small block chevy engine mounts. There is no need to wedge in an f-body crossmember

    I hope this is helpful.

  3. #3
    Member 05gtoautoX's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2006

    Impulse Blue
    2006 Pontiac G.T.O.

    i agree with everything above except with the ls1, yeah they are great engines but there's nothing like pooping the hood on a tri-five car and seeing the huge valve covers of a big block chevy, plus a crate 454,496, or 502 costs probably less than a ls-1 and you have alot more potential as far as cubic inches go, if you're going for a road racing car the ls1 has an advantage with weight, but even then I'd go for the ls2 or even the LT-1, stroked to a 383, I'm not saying I don't like the LS-1 they are awesome, but when it all comes down to it it's your choice, do what you want, good luck and nice car.

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