You don’t need a sub frame

May 1, 2008 | By Richard Prince


I am restoring a 1951 Shoebox Ford two-door Custom. I’m going to install either a 350 Chevy motor and a 350 transmission or a 302 Ford motor and C4 transmission. I also want to install power steering and disc brakes. I was told that I have to cut the front end off the chassis and install a Chevy Nova sub frame. Can you tell me how hard it is to install a sub frame, and are there any retro sub frames that will fit?


All else being equal, I would definitely stay with a Ford engine and drive train rather than going with Chevrolet parts. There is no compelling reason why you need to install a Nova sub frame in order to accomplish your goals. Several companies, including Jamco (, P.O. Box 2726 Santa Rosa, CA 95405), sell disc brake and power steering conversion kits for your ’51 Ford. If you still want to install a sub frame out of a later model car, the most important thing to keep in mind is how important it is to make sure the sub frame is positioned correctly and, of course, fastened correctly.

If you’ve not done this kind of work before, I’d suggest entrusting it to someone who has. If you are determined to tackle it yourself, then start the process by reading up on the subject. “Street Rodder’s Chassis & Suspension Handbook” and “Chassis Engineering/Chassis Design, Building & Tuning for High Performance Handling” by Herb Adams are two worthwhile books.