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ultraclyde GRM+ Memberand Reader
7/7/11 7:09 a.m.

We all enjoy a good theoretical build, so let's hear your ideas on this on. It's an idea I've been kicking around for a future (like 18mo from now) project, but then again it may remain solely a mental excersise.

The goal: a 1940's pickup that can be driven the 50mi roundtrip to work and back 3-4 days/week economically.


  • vintage, traditional, patina'd looks. Maybe not "Rat Rod" but like a well worn shop truck with some custom touches. From even 5 feet away, it has to look like a survivor, not a hackjob restomod
  • 20mpg or better in mixed city/hwy driving - that's what my Mustang gets, so I'm used to the $, but higher mpg is better, of course
  • reasonably comfortable to drive but emphasis on the traditional look/feel. I'm not afraid of old cars on a daily basis.
  • retain some basic hauling ability - maybe 500-600lbs for car parts or a Lowe's run, but mostly it will haul a couple mountain bikes. Towing not required.
  • Must be faster than an aircooled VW, but sub 7sec 0-60 is not required.

I'd love to do this with as much OLD tech as possible, but the main concern is the mileage and the cost / simplicity to fab. I've got a few ideas but I want to see what our diverse community would come up with. Points for style and originality will be awarded. I know there are ways to get this done, but what's the best one?

Okay, GO!

RossD SuperDork
7/7/11 7:11 a.m.

Depending on the weight, I'd use the zetec and pinto 4 speed in my garage. But, hey, that's just me.

Giant Purple Snorklewacker
Giant Purple Snorklewacker SuperDork
7/7/11 7:12 a.m.

Locate modern pickup truck that was rolled. Replace body.

JThw8 SuperDork
7/7/11 7:16 a.m.
Giant Purple Snorklewacker wrote: Locate modern pickup truck that was rolled. Replace body.


jrw1621 SuperDork
7/7/11 7:20 a.m.

I know a guy who drives his '39 Chevy truck every day of the year. Nearly identical to this.

Sometime back in the '80's he put an 6 cyl engine in it from a '70's Olds Omega (Nova)

The truck has no turn signal which became standard in 1940. He still uses hand signals. Of course, no AC but he says with the tilt out windshield you can really build a nice breeze.

Woody GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
7/7/11 7:32 a.m.

If you're actually going to drive it that often, you will need independent front suspension.

Javelin GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
7/7/11 8:20 a.m.

My Grand Dad built a '53 For like that. The front suspension was swapped out for a later F-150 IFS, an EFI 302 went in,and he custom milled the wood for in the bed. It was neat!

914Driver GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
7/7/11 8:30 a.m.

Slant six, patina, low box, $1500.

I hate you.


pres589 Dork
7/7/11 8:44 a.m.

S-10 chassis, TDi swap.

81cpcamaro New Reader
7/7/11 8:57 a.m.

Vortec 4.3L V6 with overdrive trans, mt or at, your choice. Can switch it to carbureted if you want to avoid EFI. Nothing wrong with solid front axle other than it drives like a truck. Plenty of street rod stuff out there if you want to go IFS.

pinchvalve SuperDork
7/7/11 9:16 a.m.


or this:

ultraclyde GRM+ Memberand Reader
7/7/11 9:55 a.m.

Hmmm...thinking those last two don't meet the MPG requirement but certainly get points for originality.

I hear you on the S10 swap, this was kind of what I was thinking as the quickest route - S10 or Ranger 4cy 5spd and rebody it, I know the late 90's version of either was capable of mid 20's easily.

what was the mileage like on the 4.3s? They're eplentiful and have a good rep, but I'm really trying to push the MPG. Also, how does engine block length compare to the 2.x 4cyls? I've seen a local swap onto an s10 frame with a nice 350, but even full FI small blocks won't get out of the high teens in MPG. Our 97 5.0 Exploder gets 18 on the highway unloaded.

Is there a way to do this with an old I6 and an OD trans with some kind of highway gear in the rear end? Are there any hodge-podge pre-EFI drivetrains that would get there for MPG? It would be really cool to do it with a boat anchor I6 mated to some crazy trans and rear end, just for authenticity.

MadScientistMatt Dork
7/7/11 10:30 a.m.
racinginc215 wrote: S-10 chassis. it's been done so many times it's not funny.

My first thought was also to use a vintage body on an S10 frame, maybe an Extreme for the suspension upgrades. Sure, it probably wouldn't score points for originality, but it would have plenty of practical truck points, not cost too much, and be pretty simple to execute.

As for OD transmissions on an old school engine:

Chrysler slant sixes would need an adapter plate except for the 4 speed overdrive A-833 variant, which is available with a slant six bellhousing.

Chevy inline sixes use their V8 bolt pattern, which would make them a logical choice.

Not sure on the Ford inline, but I think their 300-powered trucks had some sort of OD option.

Conquest351 Reader
7/7/11 10:51 a.m.

Find a decent roller, grab a new 5.0 from the 2011+ Mustang, install, winning.

Really, that or an LSx engine. Any of the LS series can be had for pretty cheap. Just find a decent chassis and get after it. Hell, getting a Duramax diesel in an older pickup would be cool too.

Grtechguy SuperDork
7/7/11 11:52 a.m.

My great-grandpa's truck looks like this.....I'm still fighting my 2nd cousin for it.

I want to keep the old farm pantina and go the 4.3 S10 route. Stock would be cool, but the block has already been welded together 3 or 4 times.

edit: this wouldn't be a bad way to finish it either

ultraclyde GRM+ Memberand Reader
7/7/11 12:00 p.m.

Grtechguy - if you get the truck, look at 95-2001 explorers as a chassis donor. from my initial research they're an almost perfect fit and you can get one with a 302, disk brakes all round and good axles for less than $2000 any day of the week. Shorten the bed 2" and it's practically bolt up. It's a better fit than the s10s for the old F1s

see, I mentioned I had some ideas.... but I have yet to figure out how to get 20+mpg from a 302

Grtechguy SuperDork
7/7/11 12:05 p.m.

Gear the crap out of it? My Uncles C4 vette gets 33mpg @ 65mph on the highway. 3:43? gears

93gsxturbo HalfDork
7/7/11 12:09 p.m.

I would want to run a Cummins 4BT diesel (4 cylinder version of the awesome RAM diesel), mechanical pump, and an overdrive auto trans with lockup or a manual trans, properly geared, should net you 25 MPG easy and you can run it off waste oil too.

ransom GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
7/7/11 12:10 p.m.

EDIT: 93gsxturbo's a bit quicker than me...

How do you feel about diesels?

It sounds like you've got very reasonable expectations for the truck's driving dynamics, so chassis-wise I'd think that a brake upgrade would be a good thing, but in terms of motivation how about one of the non-electronic (read: mostly self-contained) diesels? My tiny bit of poking suggests the Cummins 4BT.

It'll definitely drive better swapped onto a modern chassis, but this seems like a significantly smaller project than that.

turboHLS30 Reader
7/7/11 12:10 p.m.

Why not do a diesel motor?

ultraclyde GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
7/7/11 1:45 p.m.

Man, the 4BT looks dang cool, but seems a little cost prohibitive. Plus I know NOTHING about diesels....

fasted58 HalfDork
7/7/11 3:53 p.m.

This one is sold but ya get the idea.


or how 'bout a Mustang II front kit on the factory frame

John Brown
John Brown GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
7/7/11 4:30 p.m.

I would start with a 1940 Ford Panel:

Then I would add a modified to length 1998^ AWD Blazer/Jimmy/Bravada chassis. I would modify the transmission to handle the torque of a built V8. I would install a cammed Vortec engine with a quiet single 4" exhaust. I would update the interior to accommodate seating for the boys and the wife, adding Late Model OE looking interior panels and headliner. I would leave the exterior in a "nice but rough patina" with a set of 16" black steel wheels and dog dishes with trim rings rolling a set of 225/60r16 Goodyear Assurance Comfort Tred White Walls.

moTthediesel New Reader
7/7/11 4:36 p.m.
914Driver wrote: Slant six, patina, low box, $1500. I hate you. http://washingtondc.craigslist.org/nva/cto/2475105407.html

I have a Diamond T just like that one, though mine is a '37 --

This winter the cab is going to replace the original rusted-out one on my '92 Dodge-Cummins. IMHO, the Diamond T is the greatest looking truck of that period, and that period had the best looking trucks ever --

AquaHusky Reader
7/7/11 10:00 p.m.

With a VG30 and the 5 speed from any 80s/90s RWD Nissan? Might be a bit much though with the EFI and making it work. But it would be neat.

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