Updating a 1950 Chevy

September 1, 2008 | By Richard Prince


I’m gathering components to put my “new car” together (a 1950 Chevy 2-door Coupe Deluxe) and just pulled out the 216 to swap in a 1954 235 6-cylinder engine. All of this is new to me but I want to use the old parts that were available when I was in high school (1963). I’m hoping you can answer some questions.

I have the following pieces: 1954 235 cid with the 216’s front plate so the 235 will install onto the original front end, front disc brake adapter kit and new disc/drum master cylinder, 1953 torque tube and rear end from an automatic equipped Bel Air (gearing @ 3.55:1 instead of the 4.11:1 that my coupe has now) and I want to use a 4-speed transmission instead of the 3-speed that came with the car.

What do I need to do to install a 4speed transmission in this driveline? Are there any instructions out there (in a book, online, or?) that would help with such an installation?


I can’t say exactly what you’ll need to install a 4-speed transmission without knowing exactly what 4-speed you intend to install.

In general, however, you will likely need an adapter to mate a more modern 4-speed to your vintage engine and a compatible shifter and linkage. You’ll probably have to relocate the chassis cross member that the rear of the transmission mounts to, or fabricate a mount bracket that works with the transmission and existing cross member. The drive shaft you have may need to be modified so the length is what’s required.

You’ll also have to configure a speedometer gear set and cable that delivers accurate results with your transmission, differential and tire combination.

There are numerous companies out there that can provide most of the parts you need, including Speedway Motors (www.speedwaymotors.com). There are also many different books that provide useful information to anyone modifying the drive train of their vintage car. Look through the current Motorbooks International catalog (www.motorbooks.com), where you’ll see various titles that may be of interest to you.