Framed: Popular S-10 frame swap means a safe, practical, inexpensive alternative to original equipment

Original equipment is old, outdated and potentially unsafe. One of the alternatives to building a complete frame from scratch is using an S-10 frame. The continuing developments in the automotive industry led to this popular swaps. So, I am considering the swap involving the Chevrolet S-10 Pick-Up frame. Bigbolt








This truck, discovered a few years ago while on a bicycle ride on Saltspring Island, is one of the ones I am contemplating doing the swap on. The S-10 frame far exceeds the requirements of yesteryear’s design such as on this 1934 1.5 ton Pick-Up. Benefits of doing this are, the ride is much better, front power disc brakes, power steering, bed-mounted gas tank, and easier finding suspension parts for an s-10 than a 50 year old truck. I can embrace the opportunity to explore, like many other ratrod builders before me, this  challenge.   After all, we were lead to it by the power of creativity.

Even Ford builds have used this effective frame.









and perhaps the right choice for this one…a 1938 Ford Pick-Up I was blessed with.

I can outsource motor mounts to enable setting a SBC on the s-10 frame. Motor mounts could be built for the old engine, but its plenty of trouble. The swap is not the easiest,  though the cab mounts fairly easily, and the back can bolt right on, apparently the front may need some angle iron and shims to sit level. The bed can be mounted on wooden wedges to compensate for a different slope of the frame rails. The frame will likely require adjustment. With a V-8 a new rear-end and drive shaft are needed because of the added torque.

According to an S-10 frame swap guy’s info provided on the  website, “The H.A.M.B”,  “The S-10 comes in three wheelbase lengths. 108″ Shortbed, 117″ Longbed, 122″ Extended Cab. Track (wheel mounting surface to wheel mounting surface) is 56” front and 55 rear.

s10 frame

Frame is 32″ wide at the front and 34″ wide at the rear. Frame is 3″ wide and between 3″ and 5″ high at key stress points. Frame is boxed from the front to midway of the length, that would put it at just behind the door.

s10 frame2The Shortbed has a standard cab and a one piece driveshaft, the Ext Cab has the ext cab (obviously) and a two piece driveshaft. The one you want is the 2WD Longbed, it has a standard cab and a two piece driveshaft.Try to get one that is 1989 or newer with the 2.8 or 4.3 V6 with an automatic transmission. If not, any S-10 2WD Longbed from 1982 on will work. Comes stock with power steering, power disc brakes, IFS, newer ones come with 4 wheel disc brakes.

WARNING: Stay away from the S-10 BLAZERS!!! The wheelbase is 100″ 2dr and 108″ 4dr. They also sit 6″-8″ higher.

I think I found one. The listed price is $500. too high the seller could be motivated taking to a lower offer right now.  And when I talked at the seller, he remembered that I wanted it for the frame and cokmplonents and not the body. it looked like he would consider taking the parts I don’t need to use on another one and lower then price. He didn’t mention a specific lower price yet, I said I would talk to him later sometime this week or next to look at it again when not so rainy.






Maybe I will have to get two S-10 to get these projects moving! Coincidentally, a friend with a towing company,  has one that might potentially become available. If I focus on that one, he’ll get back to me on it. If it runs and is insurable then this one can work.

Here’s some interesting feedback from someone that did the swap:  “This is my first real contribution to the list. I’ve finally learned enough to answer something! I have a 1951 halfton and I’m in the process of putting an S-10 frame under it. It is going very well, especially considering this is my first rebuild project ever. It has many similar advantages to a Camaro clip or Mustang IFS including power brakes, power steering, independent spring suspension and lowering the truck. The major differences with the S-10 are the cost, simplicity, and keeping the truck the same. For the truck, I bought the frame with power brakes, a rear end, steering column, gas tank, transmission cross member and motor mounts for $450. I didn’t need the rear end or column, which were about $150 of that. I should have gotten the S-10 brake pedal and gas pedal/ throttle linkage while I was at it instead of going back later. I then ordered a You-weld-it V8 motor mount set for S-10 from Jags that Run for $45. Then it was easy to put the 350 engine in. With a simple homemade adapter piece, the 350 autotrans fit on the s-10 tranny cross member. The S-10 rear end can’t handle a V8 so I put in the rear end from the donor car with 4 U-bolts. Some angle iron and wood blocks to mount the cab, and raising the bed floor two inches and the body is mounted. The 1951 radiator bracket is bolted right on to the frame rails (if you use the ’51 radiator like me). The wheel base OF A LONG BED 83-88 is about 3/4 of an inch different from the 1951’s. The S-10 has to be long bed, an extended cab might work, but no guarantees. We cut off about 10 inches of the frame behind the rear axle. The truck has a much lower stance (about 6 inches off the ground in low spots). Running boards are the next body part after the engine work and wiring and they might be tough. Don’t know about bumpers either. The S-10 gas tank is mounted to the frame behind the cab, perfect for a filler neck to come up through the wood in the bed. This eliminates the gas tank in the cab problem. To do the swap it requires some good old American ingenuity, but not tons of car knowledge. It is discouraging for the truck to be in many pieces. With a different steering column, and a steering shaft extension, and a Power steering pump on the engine, I have power steering, power brakes, and IFS for less than $500. This also keeps the suspension all s-10 for easy parts. MY TRUCK IS NOT CURRENTLY ON THE ROAD, however I hope to have it that way by the end of the month. S-10 seems to make to much sense to me to do it any other way. It also gives me a huge sense of accomplishment to feel like I built it ground up.”



This entry was published on December 18, 2015 at 12:28 am and is filed under Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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