LuxInterior Reader
May 19, 2015 11:34 a.m.

I've always liked look of the Chevy 3100 pickup. I'm interested in a project 3100, running or not. What do I need to know about these?

Dusterbd13 UltraDork
May 19, 2015 11:51 a.m.

They rust everywhere.

3100 specific parts are rare. Exactly the same body as a 1/2 ton.

S10 chassis is almost a bolt in.

The weather stripping leaks no matter what.

LuxInterior Reader
May 19, 2015 12:09 p.m.

Pardon my near total Chevy truck ignorance but, what are the differences between the 3100 and the 1/2 ton? Where's a good place to learn more about these?

wearymicrobe SuperDork
May 19, 2015 12:12 p.m.

The bigger trucks are starting to get more and more expensive. If you find a good one grab it. I think a S10 chassis swap would be a heck of a cool thing on a 3100.

wearymicrobe SuperDork
May 19, 2015 12:13 p.m.

http://www.ad-engineering.com/HOMEPAGE.html

LuxInterior Reader
May 19, 2015 1:01 p.m.

I think I'd like the whole old truck experience including the old chassis & suspension. Maybe the ride would be a lot more rustic than I'd like, but I'd want to start there.

wearymicrobe SuperDork
May 19, 2015 1:18 p.m.
LuxInterior wrote: I think I'd like the whole old truck experience including the old chassis & suspension. Maybe the ride would be a lot more rustic than I'd like, but I'd want to start there.

Depending on how much is missing from the suspension you might have to do a S10 swap, parts specific to the 3100 can be monster expensive. Plus lets be honest here, they are not rustic, especially the larger ones. They ride like E36 M3 rolled down hill.

stuart in mn PowerDork
May 19, 2015 2:32 p.m.

A 3100 is the same thing as a 1/2 ton truck. They aren't rare at all, although it's harder to find them in good condition these days. Parts are not an issue, you could pretty much build one from a catalog (including a brand new reproduction steel body) if you wanted to.

The only chassis that is a true bolt-on for those trucks is the one it came with from the factory. S-10 chassis swaps get talked about a lot, but you still have to do a bunch of fabrication for body mounts, crossmembers, etc. or else buy a kit.

There are also a number of suspension kits that will bolt on the existing chassis, which seems easier to me than tearing the whole thing out. Something else to think about - depending on how vehicles are titled in your area, using a different chassis (with a different VIN) could cause problems.

The biggest enthusiast site I know of for vintage Chevy trucks is http://www.stovebolt.com/

LuxInterior Reader
May 19, 2015 3:41 p.m.
stuart in mn wrote: A 3100 is the same thing as a 1/2 ton truck. They aren't rare at all, although it's harder to find them in good condition these days. Parts are not an issue, you could pretty much build one from a catalog (including a brand new reproduction steel body) if you wanted to. The only chassis that is a true bolt-on for those trucks is the one it came with from the factory. S-10 chassis swaps get talked about a lot, but you still have to do a bunch of fabrication for body mounts, crossmembers, etc. or else buy a kit. There are also a number of suspension kits that will bolt on the existing chassis, which seems easier to me than tearing the whole thing out. Something else to think about - depending on how vehicles are titled in your area, using a different chassis (with a different VIN) could cause problems. The biggest enthusiast site I know of for vintage Chevy trucks is http://www.stovebolt.com/

Stuart, Thanks for the info and the link. Google is finding me parts suppliers. I haven't found a supplier that has the kind of all encompassing parts catalog that Moss Motors has for the MGs I'm familiar with. But it looks doable.

Dusterbd13 UltraDork
May 19, 2015 4:26 p.m.

I was thinking that the 3100 was the one ton. Sorry for the misinformation.

Kenny_McCormic PowerDork
May 19, 2015 4:29 p.m.

Like any old car you want the most complete and rust free example you can find.

stuart in mn PowerDork
May 19, 2015 6:33 p.m.

If you go to the Stovebolt page and click on links and then parts, a big list of parts suppliers shows up.

By the way, that generation of truck is known as the Advance Design series - that may help in searches. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chevrolet_Advance_Design

May 21, 2015 8:58 a.m.

I've owned a 1950 Chevy half-ton for 20+ years and drive it nearly every week. It had patina before patina was cool and I mainly use it as a truck, not a classic. We also fix quite a few of them at the shop (Eclectic Motorworks), so I've got some compare and contrast information.

My truck has the 216 splash oiler 6 cylinder engine (not the 235 everyone wants), 3 on the tree, and had no options except a heater. Options in those days included an inside rear view mirror and a right hand tail light. I converted it to 12V, put an alternator on it, inside and right side mirror, right side tail light, turn signals, went through the brakes, switched to radial tires, and added lap belts. I was going to put a small block with a Mustang II-type front suspension (power steering) and a non-torque tube rear axle in it after I drove it for a year. I was also going to restore the body. But after that year, I decided it was pretty good stock with those minor tweaks and haven't looked back. I also decided that if I painted it, I wouldn't use it as a truck anymore, hence the patina. I do have a 235 sitting aside for when the 216 dies (I don't think it will).

We fix quite a few of these trucks as well as the Ford equivalents, and I'll say that the 1/2 tons all drive very comfortably once sorted, while the 3/4 tons are much heavier and truck-like to drive. So my first advice is to get a 1/2 ton. A lot of the trucks have been modified with wiring upgrades, engine swaps, rear-axle swaps, etc.. Most of the time, the modifications have not been done very well and we spend more time sorting them out than dealing with things on an unmodified truck. I'm not saying mods are bad, what I'm saying is beware of mods done by non-experts, and most of these trucks have been worked on by non-experts.

The bodies and beds on these things do rust, but there are tons of replacement parts (even cabs and beds for some models) available if you can handle the time and effort.

These trucks make good in-town drivers, but aren't that great on the highway. Depending on tires and gearing, 60-70mph is usually the top speed.

Regarding chassis swaps, I agree that the only good chassis is the stock one. There are many front and rear suspension upgrade kits available and there are reproduction chassis available as rollers if your pocketbook can afford the easy button. An S-10 swap or a Nova/Camaro subrame graft (another common mod) can be done, but it's harder than it looks and a lot of them don't get finished.

Parts availability for the 1/2 and 3/4 ton trucks is very good from companies like Long Motor, Brothers, Dennis Carpenter (Ford) and many others. Plus they made a lot of them so the used market is huge.

Get one. You'll love it.

Carl

p.s. Sorry no pics of mine. I'll work on that.

frenchyd New Reader
May 30, 2015 10:17 a.m.

In reply to LuxInterior:

I did one like that.. on mine I went for the bolt in improvements.. I converted the front suspension to Jaguar sedan and got vented disk brakes power rack and pinion steering and a whole lot better handling.. Engine wise I used the 4.2 Double overhead cam six with dual carbs and the Borg Warner automatic.
The rear suspension took the Jaguar IRS well but there I did a little welding on the chassis to get it to sit at normal ride height.

That was about 3 decades ago. today I suspect I'd use the same suspension but go for the later 4.0 4 valve head engine and fuel injection..

frenchyd New Reader
May 30, 2015 10:24 a.m.

In reply to Carl Heideman: Have you looked at swapping in Jaguar sedan front and rear suspension? The front almost becomes a bolt-in while the real cage does take some brackets being made..

Jaguar Sedans from the mid Seventies through the late 80's into the early 90's sell cheap (I usually offer $300 for them) They are very robust with the front crossmember unbolting completely and the rear cage dropping out with only a few bolts being removed..

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