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Crossbreed...Dakota and Forward Look?

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  • Crossbreed...Dakota and Forward Look?

    My latest project is a '56 Plymouth Belvedere 2-door hardtop. It's pretty much a basket case with no engine or transmission and lots of rust in the floors and trunk. Fortunately, patch panels are available, and since I'm going to farm out the body work, I'll concentrate on the stuff that makes it go.

    I'm researching ideas to modernize the drivetrain, brakes and suspension, and have looked at Fatman and other Mustang II-type stubs, but I'm not too impressed, and the cost is rather high.

    A better option might be to transplant the front of a Dakota frame so I can have a modern Mopar engine, transmission, disk brakes, R&P steering, and front suspension all in one package.

    I already have a B-body rear end that is a bolt-in for the old Plymouth, so that's not a problem.

    I made dimensioned CAD sketches of both the '56 and a '92 Dakota frame, and it looks encouraging. It appears that the two frames have nearly identical dimensions, and intersect about 10 inches in front of the first body mount, which is the perfect place.

    Has anyone done a Dakota transplant in a car of any kind?

    I believe there have been three different frames used on the Dakota over the years, but the only FSM drawing I have is from a '92. I know the wheels changed from 5-6 lugs, but the early 5-lug rotors will interchange with the later models, and there are two inch drop spindles that would place the wheels in almost the exact same spot as the original '56 wheels.

    If you've been there and done that, I'd like to pick your brain.
    My book store: http://www.wings-press.com/

  • #2
    They are rarer but people do them. The main benefit is the suspension, you can get a modern motor/trans and rear into the Plymouth but it wouldn't have IFS.

    Yep, pre-'92 Daks had 5 lug wheels with the same BP.
    '67 Dart 270 4 door '72 340(9.5:1), 727, 8-3/4", A/C, original interior, big bolt discs

    '77 Aspen SE 2 door '77 318, 998,8-1/4",A/C, Cruise control car,power discs,power steering

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    • #3
      Been There done that.... 55 Belvedere, I used the stock frame, Had Mark at Texas Thunder Racing make me a crossmember for the transmission and motor mount plates for the frame. Used a 440 out of a motor home. Disk Brakes from Aerospace, sent them the spindles, they made the brackets....

      Turned out really nice......

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      Ford 9" out of a 69 Mustang.


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      Frame all cleaned up ready for Body:
      His car wasn't that fast, I caught him on the return road and passed him in the pits.
      2006 Dodge 2500 CTD


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      • #4
        There is a site (which appears we are not allowed to name) that people have done this (and other frame swaps) a lot. just do a search (again dont wanna get in trouble by naming a search engine) on rat rods and check out the one that rules.
        Eastern Washington desert rat......The dry side of the state

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        • #5
          Nice work on that '55!

          I've been pricing all the parts I need to rebuild the suspension, steering, converting to disks, etc., and the numbers added up pretty quickly and that's my reason for looking at a swap. I also have manual steering, and the box needs rebuilding, so I'd like to switch to power steering while everything is apart. Unfortunately, I can't find a later model box that will work, and the stock setup is rather neanderthal in design.

          However, at this point nothing is etched in stone, and I appreciate any input. The Dakota idea is the way I'm leaning, especially since this will be a daily driver, so I want a later model small block with an overdrive transmission.

          I've been trying to get info from a popular "ratrod" site, but apparently there is little interest in Forward Look cars unless you want to put a small block Chevy engine in it. At least I will have a unique ride, no matter which way I go.
          My book store: http://www.wings-press.com/

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          • #6
            I think that would be a very kool conversion
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            Check out my Blog "Life & Times of an Old NSS Racer"

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            • #7
              Find yourself a wrecked Dakota. Any year but the later the better as you get the better technology as you get newer. Get one with the 318 or 360 two wheel drive and use everything including the wiring harness and dash. It will be your least expensive route, similiar to what I did with my pickup. Duramago

              http://www.moparstyle.com/forums/dod...uramago-2.html

              I should mention that I have a '99 Dakota that I am planning to use under a 41 Plymouth with some modifications as the 41 has independent front suspension and I want to try to partially keep the original suspension and try to put a BB in there.
              Last edited by hemibee68; 12-31-2010, 06:47 PM.

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              • #8
                Is the Dakota frame long enough to just move the body mounts over to it?
                Are you looking for an old enough Dakota to avoid emissions tests like Cranky was commenting on elsewhere?
                The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help.'
                Ronald Reagan

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                • #9
                  There would be too much work trying to fit the entire frame under the Plymouth. I think it would also be too wide from the transmission mount back. I also prefer the 8-3/4, and if I used a later Dakota rear end, I would need to change the bolt pattern. Since the frames match so closely near the firewall, I think the partial swap would be by far the easiest solution.

                  My preference is to put a MP ignition and a carb on a later model 318. I don't want to mess with the problems of trying to adapt EFI and computers. Since the car is that old, there are no emissions requirements to worry about. I just want to keep the mechanics as simple as possible.
                  My book store: http://www.wings-press.com/

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                  • #10
                    Do you even have to worry about emissions tests where you are? And it's not hard to hook up the EFI setup with the newer engines.

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                    • #11
                      No emissions testing yet, but we've been told it will be here by 2012. However, since they go by model year, there will be no testing required on a '56, no matter what type of drive train it has.
                      My book store: http://www.wings-press.com/

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                      • #12
                        I used the Ferd 9" because I have three other cars with them and have lots of spare gear ratios and posi units. Also it's pretty readily available and the width was right.

                        If you are not planning a Lot of power the other stock rearends will be fine.
                        His car wasn't that fast, I caught him on the return road and passed him in the pits.
                        2006 Dodge 2500 CTD


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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by GaryS View Post
                          No emissions testing yet, but we've been told it will be here by 2012. However, since they go by model year, there will be no testing required on a '56, no matter what type of drive train it has.
                          Over 35 years are federally exempt and I don't know of any state but Cali that doesn't let that be. Many states do safety based on the car having everything needed for the year.

                          If you aren't doing a high power mill the 8.25" or 9.25" of a Dakota would be fine. Dakota rears have been going down in price lately.
                          '67 Dart 270 4 door '72 340(9.5:1), 727, 8-3/4", A/C, original interior, big bolt discs

                          '77 Aspen SE 2 door '77 318, 998,8-1/4",A/C, Cruise control car,power discs,power steering

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                          • #14
                            25 and older don't get tested for emissions in Texas but the equipment that was in place at the time of manufacture has to be on the vehicle. The over 35 rule probably is used here too but wasn't 75 the first year for the cat other then Cal?

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Cranky View Post
                              25 and older don't get tested for emissions in Texas but the equipment that was in place at the time of manufacture has to be on the vehicle. The over 35 rule probably is used here too but wasn't 75 the first year for the cat other then Cal?
                              Pretty sure it was, became common on Chrysler cars in '76 (lean burn or cat), basically was on in '77 for cars, started to see use in '78 for trucks more, and '79 was on basically everything. Smog pumps came in after that, EGR was being phased in throughout the mid '70s (seen some trucks with block-off plates), PCV was required in all, crude AIR started somewhere in the '70s, can't remember though.

                              We have "safety" for over 35 years old, pre-OBD-II. What smog check that entails is up to the county, most try to get loud exhausts.
                              '67 Dart 270 4 door '72 340(9.5:1), 727, 8-3/4", A/C, original interior, big bolt discs

                              '77 Aspen SE 2 door '77 318, 998,8-1/4",A/C, Cruise control car,power discs,power steering

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