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Thread: Independent Front Suspension, V8 Conversion

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    Independent Front Suspension, V8 Conversion

    Hello Everyone,
    I am reaching out for advice, recommendations, and resources on converting a 1964 GMC HandiVan to independent front suspension and installing a 350? Any and all help is really appreciated!

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    Welcome

    Welcome.
    108VanGuy...
    1969 Chevy Panel, 250 CID, 3 ring 4 Spd. with OD, 2.73 "WedgieVan" Daily Driver
    1967 Chevy Panel, 230 CID, 3 Spd. 3.36 "UtiliVan Owned since 76
    1964 GMC Panel, 194 CID, 3 Spd. "CrunchoVan"
    1965 Chevy Panel 350 CID, 3 Spd. "RustoRoof" Runs but wiring bad
    1969 Chevy 108 Display 307 CID THM 350 Power Brakes 3.73 Posi
    1965 Chevy Panel, V8, 3 Spd. "Gold Hills Van"
    1965 CamperVan, V8, 3 Spd.
    1969 G20 Shell

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    VCVC Member SAVAGE's Avatar
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    Welcome to the site.
    At least 2 member have done a upgrade's with parts from a Corvette
    Tom

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    Quote Originally Posted by SAVAGE View Post
    Welcome to the site.
    At least 2 member have done a upgrade's with parts from a Corvette
    Hi Tom,
    Thanks for the reply! Do you know the years of the Corvette's that the parts were transferred from or how to contact them?

    Thanks again,
    Chuck

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    Quote Originally Posted by 108VanGuy View Post
    Welcome.
    108VanGuy...
    Hi 108VanGuy,
    It looks like you have a lot of vans, hopefully you can give me some tips and answer a few questions. I've read that the first gen vans were built on a Chevy II front suspension, is that correct? Also, what modifications do you have to do to put a 350 in a first gen van? Thanks for any help you can give me!

    Chuck

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    Happy to Help

    Chuck
    I do have a lot of vans but that just means I don't know when to stop. It's the same as when I'm in front of a family size bag of Lays potato chips or a gallon of Moose Tracks ice cream. I'm happy to answer any questions and provide tips but so are the rest of the VCVanners here. It's an awesome forum because we love to do just that. I can start you off with a few tips right away.
    Post up pics with your questions wherever possible. We love pics and I've noticed that the members here have a knack for spotting things that you wouldn't notice unless they were pointed out. I thought I knew a lot about these vans until I got on this site. I immediately discovered how much knowledge has been accumulated by the members here and how willing they are to share. I learn every day from these guys because we all seem to have the same passion and more importantly we like to help our fellow vanners.
    Another tip is to use the search function to read the previous posts. The research will save you a lot of time when you are building. So again, welcome aboard, but to answer your questions:
    I don't have a Chevy II here to look at but if memory serves, they are not at all the same and do not interchange unless extensive modification is done. The same is true with any other Independent Front Suspension (IFS) system.
    As for the V8 swap, the list of items needed depends greatly on the type of V8 and the approach you decide upon so here are just a few general items.
    The 1st gen doghouse is too small to house a V8 comfortably so many have installed a 2nd gen doghouse from the floor up.
    Cooling is an issue that will demand your attention. Many have had good results with 2nd gen crossflow or aluminum radiators and electric or mechanical fans. Scooping more air from the bottom or installing a "tunnel" is also common.
    I could go on and on but almost every idea you may have on the type of V8 you plan on installing has probably already been tried by someone here and quite likely is being driven around today. It's a good idea to get advice from those guys. They'll probably be happy to help and will likely say a few things like "If I was going to do it again, I'd do it this way instead." Wherever you want to go with your van build, it's a good idea to look at a road map of someone who's been that direction. Personally, I'm into the 250 and 292 six cylinders. And now I'm off to go hug my vans. ;>)
    108VanGuy...
    1969 Chevy Panel, 250 CID, 3 ring 4 Spd. with OD, 2.73 "WedgieVan" Daily Driver
    1967 Chevy Panel, 230 CID, 3 Spd. 3.36 "UtiliVan Owned since 76
    1964 GMC Panel, 194 CID, 3 Spd. "CrunchoVan"
    1965 Chevy Panel 350 CID, 3 Spd. "RustoRoof" Runs but wiring bad
    1969 Chevy 108 Display 307 CID THM 350 Power Brakes 3.73 Posi
    1965 Chevy Panel, V8, 3 Spd. "Gold Hills Van"
    1965 CamperVan, V8, 3 Spd.
    1969 G20 Shell

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    VCVC Member van-itti's Avatar
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    Welcome Chuck!

    Mark has really long arms (for van hugging) and we are happy to be encompassed in his vanning embrace.
    Check those past posts for info too! I will tell you this...

    If youre going to try and do the front end conversion you will need a place to work. Not just a spot to lay in the driveway
    while the oil is draining. Youre going to be cutting, welding, grinding, pounding and if you have a place to do it
    when can I come by??

    Seriously that is going to be a lot of time and effort. I had my springs re-arched and new bushings and shackles.King pins and a
    new drag link, (tie rods were good), and my van rides and drives really nice. I also swear by the inline 6
    but a V8 has crossed my thoughts... 283 .03 bored over... been sitting on a stand for 20 years....
    Mike

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    VCVC Member kookykrispy's Avatar
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    Welcome to VCVC!

    Our van’s Straight front axle suspension is just fine as it is. Just rebuild it and have fun. Forget about an IFS conversion unless you are a very accomplished and seasoned fabricator and rod builder! Even then, ask yourself why? A ton of custom fab work, for what purpose?? Focus on everything else first. New bushings and front disc brakes is all you need

    Swapping in a 350 is a great upgrade
    Last edited by kookykrispy; 09-13-2020 at 08:24 AM.



    64' wikivan 230/4 onda tree/2.56 posi
    '64 Red Baron no engine/trans
    '66 "Lucky" 230/3 onda tree/project

    Quote Originally Posted by Vanner68 View Post
    Remember, they're still printing money, but they aren't making any more earlies!

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    VCVC Member Russell's Avatar
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    Look through the "photo forum" at some of the member's builds, some have full frame replacements front end swaps lowering and more.
    1966 Sportvan Deluxe 230 3 on tree (work in progress) Now 283 small block
    1965 Sportvan Deluxe 250 powerglide (Sold)
    1965 Chevy Van Panel (Project)

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    Quote Originally Posted by 108VanGuy View Post
    Chuck
    I do have a lot of vans but that just means I don't know when to stop. It's the same as when I'm in front of a family size bag of Lays potato chips or a gallon of Moose Tracks ice cream. I'm happy to answer any questions and provide tips but so are the rest of the VCVanners here. It's an awesome forum because we love to do just that. I can start you off with a few tips right away.
    Post up pics with your questions wherever possible. We love pics and I've noticed that the members here have a knack for spotting things that you wouldn't notice unless they were pointed out. I thought I knew a lot about these vans until I got on this site. I immediately discovered how much knowledge has been accumulated by the members here and how willing they are to share. I learn every day from these guys because we all seem to have the same passion and more importantly we like to help our fellow vanners.
    Another tip is to use the search function to read the previous posts. The research will save you a lot of time when you are building. So again, welcome aboard, but to answer your questions:
    I don't have a Chevy II here to look at but if memory serves, they are not at all the same and do not interchange unless extensive modification is done. The same is true with any other Independent Front Suspension (IFS) system.
    As for the V8 swap, the list of items needed depends greatly on the type of V8 and the approach you decide upon so here are just a few general items.
    The 1st gen doghouse is too small to house a V8 comfortably so many have installed a 2nd gen doghouse from the floor up.
    Cooling is an issue that will demand your attention. Many have had good results with 2nd gen crossflow or aluminum radiators and electric or mechanical fans.Scooping more air from the bottom or installing a "tunnel" is also common.
    I could go on and on but almost every idea you may have on the type of V8 you plan on installing has probably already been tried by someone here and quite likely is being driven around today. It's a good idea to get advice from those guys. They'll probably be happy to help and will likely say a few things like "If I was going to do it again, I'd do it this way instead." Wherever you want to go with your van build, it's a good idea to look at a road map of someone who's been that direction. Personally, I'm into the 250 and 292 six cylinders. And now I'm off to go hug my vans. ;>)
    108VanGuy...

    Thank you very much for the advice and the tip on the search button! Any idea where I can get my hands on a 2nd gen doghouse?

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    Quote Originally Posted by kookykrispy View Post
    Welcome to VCVC!

    Our vanís Straight front axle suspension is just fine as it is. Just rebuild it and have fun. Forget about an IFS conversion unless you are a very accomplished and seasoned fabricator and rod builder! Even then, ask yourself why? A ton of custom fab work, for what purpose?? Focus on everything else first. New bushings and front disc brakes is all you need

    Swapping in a 350 is a great upgrade
    Thanks for the advice! What do you get the front disc brakes out of and do you know where I can get my hands on them?

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    VCVC Member kookykrispy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Handi"Tap"Van View Post
    Thanks for the advice! What do you get the front disc brakes out of and do you know where I can get my hands on them?
    Contact Michel (username M1Dadio) on this site via PM. He sells the disc brake mounting brackets. all other parts can be sourced from the parts store, and Michel will provide instructions and a parts list when you buy his brackets.



    64' wikivan 230/4 onda tree/2.56 posi
    '64 Red Baron no engine/trans
    '66 "Lucky" 230/3 onda tree/project

    Quote Originally Posted by Vanner68 View Post
    Remember, they're still printing money, but they aren't making any more earlies!

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    Early Nova front suspension will not work on these vans for two prime reasons:
    1) it's a copy of the cheapo Falcon/Mustang front suspension that is incorporated into a unibody front basket that can't be grafted under the body of these vans (nor would you want to!)
    2) The coil springs on an early nova are ON TOP of the UPPER A-arms.... right where we sit in one of these vans....
    As Kookie said, You should have many years of street-rod building experience and a willingness to cut away a lot of what currently exists and the skills to put it back together in a new configuration that works....
    The best indie front conversion I've seen done set the front of the chassis on top of an s-10 frame clip..... This rolled the whole suspension underneath in one piece with all of the stock geometry intact.... It also netted the builder disc brakes and the correct wheel lug pattern..... I can't remember what was done for steering, but I believe a rack was used and a 90 degree gearbox on the steering column...
    I would never attempt this because I know the limits of my skills....

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    Quote Originally Posted by AzDon View Post
    Early Nova front suspension will not work on these vans for two prime reasons:
    1) it's a copy of the cheapo Falcon/Mustang front suspension that is incorporated into a unibody front basket that can't be grafted under the body of these vans (nor would you want to!)
    2) The coil springs on an early nova are ON TOP of the UPPER A-arms.... right where we sit in one of these vans....
    As Kookie said, You should have many years of street-rod building experience and a willingness to cut away a lot of what currently exists and the skills to put it back together in a new configuration that works....
    The best indie front conversion I've seen done set the front of the chassis on top of an s-10 frame clip..... This rolled the whole suspension underneath in one piece with all of the stock geometry intact.... It also netted the builder disc brakes and the correct wheel lug pattern..... I can't remember what was done for steering, but I believe a rack was used and a 90 degree gearbox on the steering column...
    I would never attempt this because I know the limits of my skills....
    Thank you for the tips! I'm learning that if I tried to do any of that I would probably be way in over my head.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kookykrispy View Post
    Contact Michel (username M1Dadio) on this site via PM. He sells the disc brake mounting brackets. all other parts can be sourced from the parts store, and Michel will provide instructions and a parts list when you buy his brackets.
    Thanks again for helping me out, I'll try to contact him.

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    I was looking into the M1D disc kit not too long ago and I believe that 108VanGuy is actually stocking and selling those kits...

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    Quote Originally Posted by AzDon View Post
    I was looking into the M1D disc kit not too long ago and I believe that 108VanGuy is actually stocking and selling those kits...
    AzDon is correct.
    108VanGuy...
    1969 Chevy Panel, 250 CID, 3 ring 4 Spd. with OD, 2.73 "WedgieVan" Daily Driver
    1967 Chevy Panel, 230 CID, 3 Spd. 3.36 "UtiliVan Owned since 76
    1964 GMC Panel, 194 CID, 3 Spd. "CrunchoVan"
    1965 Chevy Panel 350 CID, 3 Spd. "RustoRoof" Runs but wiring bad
    1969 Chevy 108 Display 307 CID THM 350 Power Brakes 3.73 Posi
    1965 Chevy Panel, V8, 3 Spd. "Gold Hills Van"
    1965 CamperVan, V8, 3 Spd.
    1969 G20 Shell

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    Quote Originally Posted by 108VanGuy View Post
    AzDon is correct.
    108VanGuy...
    Hello 108VanGuy,

    If you could please clue me in to the disc brake setup and what you have, with pictures and prices, I would really appreciate it! Also, any word on a 2nd Gen doghouse?

    Thanks,
    Chuck

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    PM Sent

    HandiTapVan
    I sent you a PM a few days ago.
    108VanGuy...
    1969 Chevy Panel, 250 CID, 3 ring 4 Spd. with OD, 2.73 "WedgieVan" Daily Driver
    1967 Chevy Panel, 230 CID, 3 Spd. 3.36 "UtiliVan Owned since 76
    1964 GMC Panel, 194 CID, 3 Spd. "CrunchoVan"
    1965 Chevy Panel 350 CID, 3 Spd. "RustoRoof" Runs but wiring bad
    1969 Chevy 108 Display 307 CID THM 350 Power Brakes 3.73 Posi
    1965 Chevy Panel, V8, 3 Spd. "Gold Hills Van"
    1965 CamperVan, V8, 3 Spd.
    1969 G20 Shell

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    Van Respin

    Quote Originally Posted by Handi"Tap"Van View Post
    Hello Everyone,
    I am reaching out for advice, recommendations, and resources on converting a 1964 GMC Hand iVan to independent front suspension and installing a 350? Any and all help is really appreciated!
    The following jibberish is from my personal experiences. Now that THAT is outta the way.........
    IMO by far the easiest, non technical and by far the fastest way to modify any older van, truck Buss or whatever your into is to rebody the thing over a complete existing chassis (frame, suspension etc.).
    Do your homework/research thoroughly until your satisfied that the dimensions for each vehicle are as close to each other as possible. The width of the donor wheelbase is the biggie. The first one I did back in the 80's was my 69 Road Runner. I cut the floor out leaving just the shell. Then using a 71 pontiac Grand Prix, I pulled the body off and removed the engine/trans. Leaving the frame and front/rear suspension. The body slid down over the frame and I used 3 lag bolts drilled through the pinch welds on the bottom of the rocker panels and into the frame to temporary locate the two until i was satisfied with the stance/look.
    The GM wheel base was 1" longer which was split 1/2" front and back. Because of the "wide track" pontiac footprint. I had to order specific backspacing for the wheels. I run 10" rims on 15" 50 series tires on all 4. I built the car to be able to run asphalt 3/4 mile high banked track in what they called "spectator racing" If you drove it into the pits and it was street legal you were part of the last race of the night. Winning a 2 foot trophy and $100. We had a blast! With the torsion bar mopar suspension I had to fling the thing around the track while the camaros simply drove under me. Can't beat gm suspension. The finished project weights 2950 lbs with me and a full tank of gas.
    Any way. Depending on which frame you pick? You'll be able to locate the engine/trans pretty much anywhere you chose. Within reason.
    When you are setting the shell over/on a framed chassis you can mount the body where you like it. Raise it up/down whatever. The original suspension remains intact as does the front end geometry. you will have to get the front realigned because of the weight differences, etc.
    Look around and you'll be surprised what will fit under what!
    I apologise for the length of this reply.
    I hope this helps,
    Good Luck

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