Discussion in '1955-1959' started by J. Pickett, Aug 31, 2020.

  1. J. Pickett

    J. Pickett Member

    Aug 22, 2020
    I want to make my '59 Chevy Apache Fleetside 32 into a daily driver and need some advice. I want to change out the front end, engine and transmission, and possibly the rear end. I want this to be able to do highway speeds safely. I also figure I will add power assist brakes and steering. I am a weekend wrencher at best so I need help with what the best components are to bolt on with little or no modifications. Currently, the truck is all stock (235 4 speed manual). I would prefer to leave it manual, but am willing to go automatic if it is too complicated to change to a modern clutch. At this point, my plan is to buy a turn-key Chevy 350 small block engine transmission combo.

    It looks like our sponsor offers the mustang front end which turns it to a 5 bolt wheel. Do I need any modifications to add this front end? Are people changing out the rear end or keeping the 6 bolt and changing out the gearing?

    I jumped into this project headfirst. I have some experience wrenching on motorcycles, but almost no experience with cars, so any ideas would be helpful.
  2. coilover

    coilover Member

    Mar 30, 2005
    Plano US
    I hope you know that what you have on the menu is going to run around 20k if you don't have to farm out any work. Once done it will never drive like a modern vehicle and it is IMPOSSIBLE to not have wind noise above 60mph. Now with the disclaimers over with a few tips:
    Use a GOOD IFS and not a cheap ebay offer; we prefer Fatman but Speedway and Heidt's are good.
    Order the ifs AFTER you find a five bolt 61" wide rear with discs, that way you order the ifs lug bolt pattern to match the rear .
    Decide whether you want firewall or under floor master cylinder with the needed residual pressure valves or get a disc-disc MC.
    A coilover rear suspension to match the front gives a much better ride but is pricey.
    A factory radiator will cool a sbc IF it is in good condition. An aluminum one will cool, take much higher pressure, and have auto trans cooling lines connections.
    If you keep the drum brake factory rear end it is probably a 3.90 and too deep geared for left lane cruising so an overdrive is needed. The Borgwarner and T5 are often used or a 400R4 or a 2004R auto are popular. The 200 is light duty.
    Good radials, exhaust, steering shaft components, heat/ac combo, and a myriad of other small items will add another 5k.
    If any body, chrome, glass, weatherstrip, rubber parts, interior, patch panels, bed work, door latches, regulators, and especially paint is needed then the 20k quote probably won't cover it.
    We have 6 in the shop right now getting this same treatment only with the LS engines and 4L60/80E trans that will probably use up 30k to make it out the door. Sad part is we net less than when it run 10K for a turn key when I first started.

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