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Old 06-18-2010, 09:01 AM
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X-frame?

I wasn't sure where to post this question so hopefully this is close enough.

A friend of my son's wants him to swap frames in his 64 Pontiac Catalina, he's built the engine up to about 500hp, probably at the crank but let's assume at the rear wheels for arguement sake. It was an auto and he wants to convert it to a 4spd, he says that the auto version had a regular (parallel) frame while the 4spd had an X-frame. He believes he needs the X-frame to handle the extra hp and torque? I'm not a chassis expert by any means but I can't imagine this to be true so it would be an awful lot of uneccessary work. If anything you could weld in some extra braces and be done with it. There's unibody hemi cars out there making huge hp and torque so I can't see how a full frame would have issues.

Any input on this would be greatly appreciated, thanks.

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Old 06-18-2010, 11:47 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rj440
I wasn't sure where to post this question so hopefully this is close enough.

A friend of my son's wants him to swap frames in his 64 Pontiac Catalina, he's built the engine up to about 500hp, probably at the crank but let's assume at the rear wheels for arguement sake. It was an auto and he wants to convert it to a 4spd, he says that the auto version had a regular (parallel) frame while the 4spd had an X-frame. He believes he needs the X-frame to handle the extra hp and torque? I'm not a chassis expert by any means but I can't imagine this to be true so it would be an awful lot of uneccessary work. If anything you could weld in some extra braces and be done with it. There's unibody hemi cars out there making huge hp and torque so I can't see how a full frame would have issues.

Any input on this would be greatly appreciated, thanks.
First, have your son's friend take a course in mechanical engineering. For a given rail height, an X frame has much LESS torsional stiffness than a parallel frame. Second, I would be surprised if Pontiac changed the design of the frame (and thus used different floor pan designs and different body mount locations) when they changed between AT and MT. I suggest he get a factory Service Manual for that car and study it.
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Old 06-18-2010, 01:53 PM
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Thanks for the reply. I also find it highly unlikely that there would be two different frames made for the same car but I don't know much about Ponchos or what cars had X-frames in general. It does stand to reason that an X-frame would twist more but I don't know enough about chassis design. My son was trying to talk him out of it without much luck so hopefully this will help.

Thanks again
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Old 06-18-2010, 03:24 PM
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I can assure you that there was only one frame design - the ladder/perimeter frame on a '64 Catalina, also used by the Grand Prix. The "X" frame disappeared, thankfully, in 1961.

http://www.conceptcarz.com/vehicle/z...-Catalina.aspx

I owned a '64 GP as did my dad and my mom had a Catalina.

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Old 06-18-2010, 03:30 PM
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I noticed you list your location as Victoria...as in BC, I take it.........The confusion lies in that Canadian Pontiacs used the Chevy "X" frame right up until 1964.....In 65, Canadian Pontiacs still used a Chevy frame, but as with the 65 Chevy used the perimeter frame.......A Catalina is an American model, so whether 4 speed or auto, it would have the American Pontiac parallel frame.

You couldn't put an "X" frame under that Catalina, even if you wanted to......the floor pan is completely different....wouldnt match up
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Old 06-18-2010, 07:06 PM
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Great information guys!! Thanks a ton, the last thing he needs is a total nightmare on his hands.
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Old 06-23-2010, 07:20 PM
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Get the Shop Manual and the Shop Manual Supplement. They should show all the intricacies of the 4-speed.
http://www.faxonautoliterature.com/products.cfm
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Old 06-24-2010, 10:42 AM
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Thanks, the good news is he talked him out of the frame swap, not sure where he got that stupid idea in the first place. I don't know if it has the 4 spd in it already or not though? If not the factory manuals will be helpful for sure.
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Old 06-24-2010, 01:37 PM
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Best thing he can do to strengthen the frame would be to box it, if it's the traditional C notch frame used on early GM cars (except convertibles). Use some cardboard to make templates, transfer to 3/16 plate and weld up the C notches.. stiff as a board...

Quote:
Originally Posted by rj440
Thanks, the good news is he talked him out of the frame swap, not sure where he got that stupid idea in the first place. I don't know if it has the 4 spd in it already or not though? If not the factory manuals will be helpful for sure.
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Old 06-24-2010, 06:33 PM
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Yeah I thought of that too but again it's a fair bit of work that I can't see it needing myself. 500 hp at the crank is stout but hardly earth shattering, and a Catalina has to be a shade over 2 tons so he's not going to pretzel the thing
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