The first step was to remove the motor and transmission from the car. Now the front suspension can be removed very easily. No cutting tools are required for the removal. The front cross member is bolted to the main Corvette frame. The cross member also has the mounting for the motor mounts. This is so well designed, that all of the front suspension components are attached to the front cross member with the exception of the upper shock mounts. I will come out of the car as a complete unit.
It is important not to discard any items from the Corvette. Every single part removed can be sold. This is what I did. I listed many parts on eBay and sold many items locally. This eventually paid for the car and made me even more money. I managed to pay for the engine hoist, engine stand, and a new Millar Mig welding machine from the proceeds of this car. I even put some money in the bank for my next street rod part purchases. Don’t forget, I still have the Corvette suspension, engine, transmission, and many other parts needed to build my street rod. I never thought building a street rod was so profitable.
Next I removed the rear suspension. Again, everything came out without any difficulty. Make sure you keep the bolts. The bolts are all hardened bolts and might be required to mount the suspension in the new Model “A” chassis. I even removed all of the emergency brake cables, and aluminum brake line splitters.
The front and back sway bars and mounts should to be removed and stored. One of my main goals in the design of the new Model “A” Ford chassis was to use as many Corvette parts as possible in my street rod. This makes the long term maintenance of your street rod very simple. Corvette parts will always be available whereas custom made parts will be hard to replace when items break or wear out. Some of the custom parts built today might not be available in the future depending who originally made them.
I placed the front and back suspension units on a skid and wheeled them off to my shop. Now I needed to decide on the details of the chassis design. I felt that for my first street rod, I would not be too radical in my design. In some sense, I did select something out of the ordinary by using C4 Corvette suspension on a 1931 Ford Coupe. This will complicate the design enough and slow down the building process when compared to using traditional parts in a street rod.
I decided to use the same wheel base of 103 ½” as the original Model “A” Ford for a 1928 to 1931 frame. The mounting of the rear suspension required a narrower frame width. It was like the C4 Corvette design engineers considered the Model “A” Ford in their original design applications. The width of the rear frame rails would be narrow enough to fit between the rear body frame rails. I would only need to make a slight modification to the body frame rails to facilitate the new suspension and chassis.
I measured the mounting distance between the upper control arms on the Corvette cross member. It was slightly wider than the original Model “A” Ford frame. It is important not to change any part of the original design of the suspension of the Corvette. Any changes will affect the eventual performance in handling and ride of the street rod. In some street rod applications, the entire Corvette front cross member can be used as is. It is not possible for the Model “A” Ford. I suppose some car builders would say sure no problem, use it as is. I feel the front of the car would look very ugly and be poorly designed and this option was not for me. It would be similar to builder using an original Mustang II suspension with the large coil springs. In a small car like a Model “A” Ford, this will not look good. Again maybe in larger street rods with the front ends closed in more would this be okay.
Now I had a basic design concept for the new chassis in place. The original wheel base would be adequate, and a new width at the center lines of the front and rear suspension was determined. Now, I needed to buy the steel for the new chassis.
Fortunately, in our town, we have a steel supplier. I purchased 2” x 4”, 0.1” wall thickness rectangular tubing. Before my purchase, I completed rough sketch of the new Model “A” Ford chassis. From my sketch, I calculated how much material was required for the main frame rails, rear of the frame, and the new front cross member. At the steel supplier, I had them cut two sections of the same length of tubing for my new chassis. We loaded this into my trailer and headed back home to my shop.
The next phase of the project is to complete a mock up of the new chassis with everything only tack welded.
More to come soon, including pictures of the design process. Make sure you book mark this site and come back for weekly updates.