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Neophyte 08-23-2004 12:30 PM

A very disturbing discovery
Yesterday I have made a very disturbing discovery on my 53 Chevy.

First, this is how I got to it:

I had the whole front end assembled to check alignment before starting on making new bumper brackets. I fitted the hood loosely and saw that the 2 rear most tips don't match the body equally. This told me that the front center is actually off the car's centre line.

After holding a piece of rope along the car's centre line I saw the hood's centre was off to the left by about 3/4 inch! The frame between the fenders was not unmovable yet so moved it until the hood was centred and this made the rear tips line up properly. BUT, now the centre between the front frame tips are to the left of the body centre line and obviously the front of the engine too meaning the engine's not sitting straight! Not to mention what this will do to wheel alignment. Another item pointing towards this problem is that now the left front wheel sits noticable closer to the outside than the right.

Some history now:
When I bought the car I was told the body was placed on a Chevrolet De Ville chassis but later I saw that it was only the front clip from the De Ville.

After measuring some it didn't look as if the front axle line was off square with the rest of the chassi but now it seems as if it's actually off the centre line! Damn!!!

Now, what now?

Do I cut the whole clip off and re-fit it OR do I rob my GMC chassis of it's Jaguar IFS and build a new clip and put the Jag IFS onto that?

My plan was to try and have the car finished by March next year but this will set me back at least a month if not more. Damn!!!

sway 08-23-2004 09:26 PM

Sorry for your hardship hope it works out for you.

coldknock 08-23-2004 09:30 PM

Would cutting the frame on the longer side and butt-welding it work? It might swing the rails over far enough to correct it.


87442lover 08-23-2004 09:34 PM

Almost all GM cars I've seen the whole front clip just un-bolts to reviel the firewall. But than again I havent had a chance to work on anything from the 50's.

Neophyte 08-23-2004 10:30 PM


Originally posted by sway
Sorry for your hardship hope it works out for you.

:welcome: Thanks sway. will let you guys know what's for what. Should know by tonight (SA time, we're GMT +2).


Originally posted by coldknock
Would cutting the frame on the longer side and butt-welding it work? It might swing the rails over far enough to correct it.
Larry, at the moment I think that it is actually on straight but just towards the left of the centre line as a whole but will know once I've got the body off AGAIN. :sweat:

sway 08-23-2004 10:32 PM

Hang in there i feel your pain as my cars not in the best of shape.

Neophyte 08-23-2004 10:47 PM

Now we all know why one must try not to buy something which has already been worked on and aborted halfway. I get the feeling this guys bit off more than he could handle and realized it too late and then decided to get rid of it. I guess I was the unlucky sucker who fell into the trap. Unfortunatle getting a fibreglass "kit-car" is not really an option as the assembled body and rolling chassis will cost me just more than this project's total cost. I just have to press on and not give up as I've already spent about 2 thirds of the total cost on all of the miscelaneous parts needed like motor, 'box, shifter (B&M Quicksilver) etc.

DrChop 08-24-2004 12:53 AM

Cool your jets...
Most Fifties-era cars DO have the body offset from the frame to some degree.

My '54 Ford was offset an inch to the right side, the drivers side fender (and quarter, in the rear) was closer to the tire than the passenger side was. The reason for this is to allow for the motor/trans being farther to the right, for steering box clearance.

It's certainly nothing to get worked up over.

Offsetting the powertrain to one side was done (and still is) to solve a clearance problem and is an acceptable way to make things fit and work as intended. Offsetting the body was also done, as it would be obvious when the hood is open if the engine/trans sat to one side. Most people do not look close enough to see if the framerails are centered in the engine bay.

Offsetting the body DOES NOT affect the alignment or drivability of the vehicle. Alignment is the angles of the front wheels/rear axle in relation to the chassis, NOT the body.

I know all this for fact as I ran into having to center the driveline and the body on my '54 Kustomsledd project. I always center the powertrains I swap in, and when I did the air suspension I found out about the body being offset, one rear tire was rubbing inside the quarter when the car was slammed, yet my track width measurement said I had just enough room.

Unless you plan to spend a lot of time/effort/money to make it tuck tire, I would'nt worry about it. If the car does'nt drive straight then get it aligned, and don't sweat the body being offset...

BTW, De Ville's are made by Cadillac, not Chevrolet...


Neophyte 08-24-2004 01:33 AM

Thanks Doc, that does make me feel much better. I have already pulled the body off about an hour ago. Will take the engine and transmission off the chassis this afternoon after work and measure from everywhere to everywhere just for my own peace of mind that the front clip was actually centred with the rest of the chassis even if the body is offset like you said. I know about Cadilac making a De Ville but here in South Africa we've also got a Chevrolet from the 70's I think which was called a De Ville but I think it was derived from one of the Australian Holdens.

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