Mixing a ’50s pickup with a ’90s van

September 1, 2011 | By Richard Prince


First, thanks for a great magazine. I look forward to each issue and share various articles with my friends; some of whom I believe are now subscribers.

I have a 1955 Chevy Second Series pickup truck that I will either take back to original or turn into a street rod. I also have a 1993 3⁄4-ton custom van that body wise is ready to be recycled but the power train is still in good condition.

Are components such as modern brakes, tilt wheel, power steering and so on adaptable to the 1955? I had planned on stripping the 1993 van if I can use the parts out of it on the 1955 pickup truck.


The simplest answer to your question is that any parts from any vehicle can be made to work on another vehicle if you are willing to put in enough time, effort, expertise and money to make them work. I can’t give you a complete definitive answer as to which parts from the van will work in the vintage truck with minimal effort but can say that it is feasible to use most of the parts from the van. Unless you find someone who has done the same conversions you’re contemplating doing you won’t get a concrete answer but if you are patient, mechanically adept, and chock full of common sense you can figure nearly all of it out yourself.

Let’s look at the steering column, for example. How does the overall length of the van’s column compare to the overall length of the pickup’s column? Is it different enough that you’ll have to lengthen or shorten it? Will the column shaft engage the pickup’s steering box? How will you fasten the column at the firewall and under the dash? What’s needed to integrate the steering column electrical harness with the truck’s horns, turn signals and other related components?

Another, altogether different approach is to analyze what’s needed to mount the pickup truck body on the van’s chassis. If the chassis’ wheelbase and other critical dimensions are close enough to make mating the older body and newer chassis feasible this may be your best option because you end up with all the benefits of the more modern chassis with all the spiffy looks of the vintage pickup.

Of course, it’s always a good idea to build a relevant library before building a custom vehicle.

There are various books that can help you, including “Custom Pickup Handbook,” “101 Performance Projects for Your Pickup and SUV,” and “Performance Modifying Chevy Trucks.” Motorbooks.com, Amazon.com, and various other retailers can help you with these.