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Centerline 07-01-2003 11:58 AM

Front clips and frame swaps --- More work, less value
Sorry about this but I have to get something off my chest.

I belong to several forums and there are always questions that come up about frame swaps and front clips. Now I know many people wonít agree with me but if you really think about it I hope youíll understand my point.

I donít know who it was that started the ďframe swapĒ craze but thatís just what it is. Itís a fad. Everyone and his brother seem to want to just jump on the bandwagon with little thought of exactly how much work is really involved. Sure it looks simple on the surface but the truth is that the best frame for any vehicle is the one it came with from the factory. People just donít understand the extra work involved and most find that hanging the body and especially the front sheet metal isnít a simple operation and it requires lots of fabrication. The time saved by going to a frame that already has IFS and motor mounts (thatís the argument for doing a frame swap that I hear most often) is usually eaten up by the extra time it takes to adapt everything and make it work. With the availability of aftermarket IFS systems, bolt or weld in cross members with integral motor mounts, bolt in rear suspension kits etc, it hardly seems worth the time and extra work to perform a swap.

Perhaps the most important thing to consider is that in many cases it actually lowers the value of the finished product. There are a couple reasons for this. First if it doesnít fit perfectly and the wheelbase and track width arenít correct it doesnít look right and youíre not going to get top dollar for a car or truck that doesnít look correct. (Just ask anyone that owns a StreetBeast about that one.) Second is the safety issue. Most people wonít pay a huge chunk of change for a vehicle when they donít have a lot of confidence about the quality of its construction. Face it, there are very few shadetree mechanics that can do the type of quality work that most professional shops do. Yes, there are some but most of us (and I include myself in this group) are just shadetrees. We do OK but our stuff canít match up to the average $50,000+ pro built rod in quality or in looks. And when someone is going to fork over big bucks for a street rod someone else built, unless it came from a pro builder or is something extremely special, youíre probably going to have a lot of trouble getting the cash you think itís worth. People just wonít pay as much for a car that has had major structural work done by someone other than a pro.

Front clips are the same way. Not so much because they lower the quality of the vehicle, they do, but for the overall safety aspect. Many clips just donít look right because the track width isnít correct. But the most importantly thereís only one way to properly install a clip, and there are hundreds of ways to screw one up. That said, all clips arenít unsafe by any means. But unless the person doing the cutting and welding is experienced the chances are there will be some misalignment that will find itís way into the process. This may cause tire wear problems or alignment problems or nothing at all. Worst case would be a catastrophic failure at speed on a crowded highway. Way too many inexperienced people jump on the front clip bandwagon without the foggiest idea what theyíre really getting into. It takes one person with a Mig welder one day to install a basic Mustang II IFS on a typical rod but it might take two or three times as long to do a similar clip installation. OK so the Mustang suspension costs you a few bucks Iíll admit that, but with some judicial shopping a basic kit can be had for well under a grand. But by the time you spend the money to rebuild the suspension on the clip, install new brakes and rotors and a new steering box, (we do want to compare apples to apples here) youíve spent two to three times the amount of time and darned near the same money you would have spent on the Mustang or similar kit. If a clip is welded in properly, aligned correctly, and actually has the correct track for the vehicle then youíve about broken even. We havenít even talked about all the extra labor involved in hanging your 40+ year old front sheet metal on that new clip. Youíll need to add several extra hours of labor and fabrication for that as well.

Bottom line is that as far as I can see there are only two reasons to ever consider a frame swap or clip installation. One is if the previous owner has hacked up the stock frame to the point that it is unusable or unsafe and second if the stock frame has been damaged beyond repair due to an accident or rust.

Like I said I know a lot of you wonít agree with me but your opinions are, as always, welcome. :mwink:


troy-curt 07-01-2003 12:49 PM

It`s called customizing,Or hotrodding.

Individuality, from model Ts to 2003s.


TurboS10 07-01-2003 03:09 PM

Well, I certainly have some opinions.

First is cost. I did a hybred frame swap on my 57 chevy truck. I had less than $300 in the whole frame with new power brakes, power steering, rearend. I could not have bought even the cross member for that. Not to mention everything else. Also, I used the coil spring rear suspension which not only performs better, but rides better. I was able to reuse all the mounts off of the old frame and just relocate them to the new frame and remove the new frames existing mounts. The bed bolted directly on with no modification.

As for the track width, it was off by about 1 inch on each side. All that is neede to correct it is a set of wheels with proper back spacing, which cont cost any more than any other custom wheels. Track length was perfect.

As for saftey, I dont see any issues since I used all oem parts just partially rearranged.

There is a picture of the truck in my album at the track on a launch. Take a look.

Chris 07-01-2003 04:24 PM

Re: Front clips and frame swaps --- More work, less value

Originally posted by Centerline

Like I said I know a lot of you wonít agree with me but your opinions are, as always, welcome. :mwink:


I don't agree with you or anything that has been said or will be said by anyone on this thread.;)

troy-curt 07-01-2003 05:27 PM

Come on willy, lets be open minded here.You mean if I agree with you , You still wont beleave me?

I`ve done many many(lost count) Frame clips,and never had one, not one problem, or complaint. I never let one leave my shop that wasn`t right.

I would guess that at least 75-80% of all customs and street rods out there have been clipped, or have a non org. frame.
They ride better,stop better,. corner better just safer. If they wasn`t, then the new cars would still use them. Anyway thats my opinion.


adtkart 07-01-2003 05:31 PM


We do OK but our stuff canít match up to the average $50,000+ pro built rod in quality or in looks. And when someone is going to fork over big bucks for a street rod someone else built, unless it came from a pro builder or is something extremely special, youíre probably going to have a lot of trouble getting the cash you think itís worth.
I guess you're right about that. I won't be able to get $50,000 for my car, but I won't have that much in it either! Actually if I was in the market to buy someone else's project, frankly I would think it is safer to buy something that is on a factory frame that has had the body mounts moved, than something on a frams that someone built at home. As long as it fits, I have no problem with it. But then I don't usually trust the work of too many people that I don't know extremkely well. I also don't think that most of the people that are on this board are really interested in doing these projects for what they can get for them after they are done either.

The main thing to remember is that we are all doing this for fun. As long as it is done safely, we don't need to agree. When you have a frame that the suspension and brake systems are designed for that increases the chances of it being safe, in my opinion.

I see posts regularly about people doing stuff to cars, and trucks that make them unsafe. I will usually post something to help make it safer. I may be driving down the road one day and come up on that car. Most of the regulars here are trying to help others. It isn't helping them by condeming them for not going and having their cars professionally built or built to professional standards.

Actually, by the requirement of the original frame, there are alot of older street rods that shouldn't be on the road. It was common practice to use 32 frames for Model A bodies. That was a frame swap! I wouldn't mind at all having one of them!

Just my opinion, and I don't care if anyone agrees or not.:evil: 07-01-2003 05:35 PM

No I don't agree with ANYONE and refuse to even try. As proof, I don't even agree with what I just said.:cool: :cool:

Centerline 07-01-2003 07:03 PM

Ah, diverse opinions. Thats what makes this hobby interesting.

Don't get me wrong, if someone wants to do a clip, its their car and they shoud build it the way they want to, not me. But I just think way too many novices jump into a clip or frame swap because all their buddys (who are novices as well) think it's the "in" thing to do and that's not always the case.

I totally understand everyone's personal likes and dislikes and except them. All except for Willys. He and I think way too much alike to understand each other. :skeptic:


TurboS10 07-01-2003 09:06 PM

I can see your point on saftey, but if done properly, I think frame mods are perfectly fine.

They are certainly not for the faint of heart, or those with poor fabrication skills. Particularly those who cant weld well. I have seen some dirt dobber nests holding cars together that make be scared to even stand close to it.


adtkart 07-02-2003 06:29 PM

Don't pay any attention to Willys.... he can't even agree on disagreeing.:evil: 07-02-2003 11:41 PM


Originally posted by adtkart
Don't pay any attention to Willys.... he can't even agree on disagreeing.:evil:
Man, are you wrong!!

Don Meyer 05-11-2004 03:19 PM

Another reason to do a frame swap is when you have no frame! I have a Rolls Royce that is uniboby. The cost to repair the hydraulic system,suspension & brakes was $18,000.
I removed the sub frames & made a frame for it using GM front & rear suspension.

musky2 05-12-2004 02:13 AM

Clips and frame changes
I have a 63 Chevy2 convertible and I dont have alot of money but I think this car is kind of rare and one day will be a good investment . I mean I want to keep it , drive it and improve looks, safety, handling and conveniences but I always end up selling things to get money to buy something elese I want more or if I just need the money. Problem : If you add modern things even though you are improving the car in everyway are you lessing the value of the car? As for what Centerline says I do agree that alot of people want to be in or follow the fads , by changing suspensions etc. but in minor upgrades to suspensions are for any improvements I guess we all want that. Some people just take things a little farther than others or get a little more exotic. Guess thats why we have a free country and our own opinions. thanks musky2

poncho62 05-12-2004 05:27 AM

I agree with Centreline, when the vehicle has more value, if left stock. My truck when I got it, was in such poor shape that it would have cost more than it was wrth to fix up all the componants. It was more economical for me to "sub frame" I got the Nova for free.

Slipangle 05-12-2004 02:21 PM

HOHO!!! Take a look under a Chevy SSR!

The SSR is a factory frame chop reducing the length by 3 inches from its base wheelbase as it's a Trailblazer/Envoy, etc. derivative.

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