Your stock Hotchkiss rear end is 59 1/4" wide from mounting surface to mounting surface. You could try to stay close to that unless you decide to tub (or mini tub) and go with huge rear tires for the pro street look. You may want a narrowed rear end if you plan for that. That would apply whether you use a sbc or a bbc motor. You also could get in some fairly good size tires/wheels if you use the correct width wheel, backspacing of the wheel and tire size. It will be limited and it will be difficult to remove the rear tires w/o deflating the tires or having the back end jacked up high enough for everything to clear.
A Ford 9" would be the best and strongest rearend for your tri five. You can buy them built to your specs from places like CURRIE ENTERPRISES, MARK WILLIAMS or MOSER ENGINEERING. Prices are around $2,500-3,000 for a completely new 9" from CURRIE, including brakes, posi rear end, gear ratio of your choice, fill and drain bungs, 31 spline axles, etc.
You might be able to find a Ford 9" from a junk yard donor car and have it narrowed, axles redrilled for 5x4 3/4" (or install heavy duty GM bolt pattern axles with the GM 5x4 3/4" bolt pattern). You most likely will not know what gear ratio it is until you open the rear end up, or the ratio will not be what you want with the planned 700R4 transmission, or you'll need to rebuild the rear end, it may have 28 spline axles (still superior to the original rear end), possibly no posi or disc brakes. I did that on a '55 210 sedan and when all was said and done, it cost almost the same amount after it was built up with new parts.
CURRIE also sells 12 bolts and DANA rear ends...prices are probably comparable to the Ford 9".
A GM 12 bolt would be a good choice if you decided to go either a stout sbc or a bbc. I think the 12 bolts out of some late 60s to early 70s (??) Camaro, Firebird, Nova and Chevelle were approx. that 59 1/4" +/- width. Again, you might have to rebuild it for your needs.
A GM 10 bolt would also be a good choice if you decided to go either a sbc or mild bbc and didn't abuse it to much. They are fairly plentiful, but most are wider than your original rear end width, and the weak point is the C-clips (also found on GM 12 bolts) which retain the axles. C-clips eliminators are available for serious horsepower applications.
Along with the latter suggestion, in my current 200 mile frame off '57 150 sedan, I used a 60" wide GM "corporate" 3.42 locker, 10 bolt out of a 2000 S10 4x4. It has an 8.5 ring gear, 30 spline axles, 5x4 3/4" bolt pattern, 1/2" studs and 11" disc brakes. I have a ZZ4 motor, CENTERFORCE clutch and TREMAC 5 speed, but the car is a cruiser so I am not worried about it failing.
That being said, it is currently being refitted with new guts since the gear set and pinion bearing recently failed, but not from my abuse. It was supposedly removed from a "new vehicle" that was being modified for a heavy duty 4x4 application...I think the owner probably was hearing the same noises I heard and had it removed. I'll still have slightly less into it than a CURRIE rear end, but it won't be as strong.
**I incorrectly stated the S10 rear end I used was a locker...it is a limited slip rear end.
Last edited by hotwheels55; 09-29-2003 at 12:44 PM.