Help me swap a pre-war pickup to a newer frame

July 1, 2016 | By Staff


I just purchased a 1939 International D-2 pickup with a rust-free body, but the engine and rear end are not original, so I may want to swap out to a Dakota or S10 frame.

In your archives, do you have any articles on this model or those from 1937 to 1939? Any frame swaps or just anything that may help me in this madness. I am a 66-year-old and not in the best health, so I have been selling my toys off, but this beast jumped up and slapped me in the face. I named him “ol’ Geezer,” like me.


We have nothing in our archives pertaining to putting a pre-war International body on a newer Chevrolet S10 or Dodge Dakota frame, but there are several websites describing how to mate an early post-war Chevrolet truck body onto a later Chevrolet S10 chassis. One detailed explanation of how that is done is at: watch?v=cdgYy5YtW8k

A good source of components and advice for any such swap is:

E-Z ChassisSwaps Ed Lipinski Watson, Minnesota

Be aware that both the original and donor vehicles will require a lot of dismantling just to get the body off of the S10 or Dakota, and then alter its chassis to fit the body of the International because the wheelbases are not the same. The S10 has a wheelbase of 108 inches, and the D-2 International has a wheelbase of 113 inches for the short bed, and 125 for the long bed. Assuming your International is a short bed, your truck’s wheelbase is five inches longer than the S10, so your wheels won’t be centered in the wheel wells, and the body of your International will not sit on the S10 chassis correctly without moving the axle or altering the bodywork.

Another challenge is the width of the axles, commonly known as the track, which is about 58 1/2 inches on the International and 54 inches on the S10. The S10’s wheels will set farther into the wheel housings than they would on the International; but then you will probably be going to wider wheels than the International’s 600x16 originals.

Finally, you will need to determine the overall length of the chassis of both vehicles and adjust accordingly, and you will need to determine how far back the cab will sit from the front, and how far the bed will extend to the rear. And then you will need to weld in new cab and bed mounts and attach points. And then there is the issue of getting the front suspension to sit right and work properly under the front fenders. It can all be done with a lot of patience and careful measuring and fitting though.

However, as a fellow geezer of a certain age, I would be reluctant to take on such a project, because if you do it all yourself it could take a long time before you could enjoy your truck again and would require a lot of heavy lifting. You mentioned that you are “not in the best health,” and only you can estimate how much you are capable of in terms of the stamina and skills required, and whether you can elicit help from a younger, fitter person.

On the other hand, if you can afford to pay to have the work done, the above sources can help you find a pro who could do the job for you. To give you a starting point on the money involved, kits to convert early Chevrolet pickups to the S10 chassis cost in the neighborhood or $1400, but then labor would be the major cost of such a conversion.