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Low Slung T


Active Member
I figured it was about time to start my build thread. I bought my T from another guy who kind of half way started it. It was never fully together and was barely a rolling chassis but it has some brief history in the lime light at local plays. Although I have been tinkering with cars most of my life, this is the first time I've taken on something of this magnitude so any input, tips, tricks, etc. will be greatly appreciated.
This post is a bit retroactive as I have had this project and have been following this forum for almost a year now. I'm currently sitting on a rolling chassis but I just pulled the engine and transmission off for repositioning. I'm going to start out this thread with where I started and work it up to where I am at now and then continue from there.

This is how I found my T...
My goal is to build a nearly unreasonably low sitting T. Nothing too fancy, just effective, cool, and within the requirements of the PA state inspection laws. I am working in one bay of a fairly small two car attached garage. You may notice that it is a bit of mess...I have a lot of stuff in a little space...
I don't really have any type of timeline for completion. I figure a few years but not more than 3 or 4. I doing a little at a time, as money and time are available.
You can do I have a one car garage and am constantly moving things around to make room to work. Like everyone says these cars are never finished
I do a lot of cleaning up. Its gets messy pretty fast. I do, however, have access to the other bay if needed. I just have another car sitting there that I can pull out whenever I want to. The attached garage isn't that bad. I can utilize the AC and heat from my house by opening the man door if needed. Also, I can keep an ear out for my kids getting out of control while I am working fairly easy. There are some perks for having a small attached garage rather than a large detached one. I do have to pay special attention when grinding and welding. If I burn my garage down, the house goes with it. :thumbsdown:
So begins...
In post #1 I showed you how I found these next few pic are when it made it to my garage. Just some quick mock up a LOT of staring and letting the plans begin to form.

I made some quick mock up wheels and tires to help with visualization.

Then of course I had to sit in it to see how it feels and mostly to make some race car noise...
This is where my planning began. I decided that I didn't really want the traditional stance of a T-bucket. I wanted it to sit as low as possible without being unsafe or having the need to buy a new oil pan every time I went over a speed bump. I later decided that I would just avoid speed bumps. lol so passing PA safety inspection is my limiting factor on lowness. I also later realized that this decision is going to seriously hinder my leg room.

One of the most important lessons that I have learned so far is that I wasted a ton of money upfront by buying someone else project. However, I do not regret it for one second. The reason for "no regrats" is that if I had not bought the mess of a project that was no where near what I would really want, I would have never started building one of these until much later in life. I have loved Ts for some time now and always wanted one of my own, but realistically, this project fell in my lap and I wouldn't have started one if it hadn't.

As far as how the project was a waste of money, here is why:

The frame - would not work for a very low T with taller rear tires. The kickup was not high enough to clear a rear axle without major modification. It also did not appear to be long enough to fit a sbc. I decided to have a new frame was in order. Did a lot of research here and other places on frames. Decided to lengthen the frame, raise the kickup and began designing one. In all actuality, I sold the old frame to someone for more than I spent in material to build a new one. For the record, I wasn't trying to sell it, he just saw it in my garage and offered me like $30 more than what I had spent to buy new tubing. That's kind of a win.

The engine - The project came with a 350 sbc that was supposed to be a 4 bolt main. I didn't really care that it was not a 4 bolt because it was unnecessary for the power I was going to build it to. I did care that it had more rust inside of it than anything I'd ever seen. Good thing I had something kind of special but not really that special sitting in the corner of my garage just waiting for a project to come by.

The rear end - The rear that came with it was really cool. I'd never seen one before and actually didn't even know they existed until this one ended up in my garage and I started researching it. At a quick glance, I thought it was a 9". I was wrong. It is a GM 12 bolt front load rear. If I remember correctly they came in some of the late 60s larger cars. I was pretty excited about it. That is until I opened it up for inspection. The pinion had walked into the carrier. Huge gouges in the carrier, missing teeth on both the ring and pinion and the cost to rebuild the thing made me decide to keep my eyes open for something different. I couldn't even believe the thing still spun. As luck would have it, my buddy asked me about doing an engine swap for one of his friends. It was a 89 S10 blazer. The task seemed simple, pull the engine and trans out of one and put it into the other. Although it turned out to be a nightmare, the offer was that we get some cash and we keep the old blazer. Now I have a blazer rear.

The transmission - Beings that the engine was near junk and the rear was near junk I was not to hopeful for the transmission(TH350). It did have a case that looked good and it spun nicely I figured I could at least use it for mock up and have it rebuilt if needed when the time comes. Well, the threads for the mount bolts....stripped. So I went junk yard hoping and picked up a nice case TH350 with a short tail this time. We will see when the time comes if its good. If not, I will just rebuild it, but the case is great and it was only $50. So I call that a win. I post some pics later.

The suspension - Rear suspension was just radius rods and spring and a pan hard. I decided on a 4 link and coil overs...all that is sitting in my pile of spare parts. The front had an axle with two different types of spindles. Ford one side, Chevy on the other. King pins boss was reamed. spindle angles wrong. Very very stiff spring. For ease of finding parts in the future and on Ron from RPMs recommendation, all that is sitting in the spare parts pile with the exception of the radius rods. I am using them.

That's about how it all started. Like I said I'm at a roller now and moving the engine a bit. I start posting some pics of how it came along.
I decided to go with a RPM front end using the radius rods I already had. Also making it's way into the picture is my engine choice. It is a LT1 out of my 97 Trans Am. Going Fuel Injected should be fun.
Getting the engine and transmission mounted for the first time went well. Except I change my mind on placement and am now in the process of moving it. Plus while mounting it, we came up with a great idea for engine mounts that required some parts sourcing so the mounts were just temporary so I could move one while finding the needed parts.


This is with the old transmission.

With the new transmission. Case looks great and it has the shorter tail shaft housing.


This is the gem that housed my new transmission. Could believe it looked as good as it did coming our of this. Plus the snakes were fun to deal with while pulling it out!!


Front Suspension all together(minus shocks) and engine and trans mounted. Body halfway sitting there to see what its going to look like.
As of last weekend this is getting up to date. This is the first time I rolled it out of the garage. Rear suspension is all together, have rear wheels and tires, but front tires are still just donuts and the engine is coming off.
Working on remounting the engine now. Just got the machined pieces I need from my brother a few minutes ago. Here is a hint of what's about to happen.
The rear panhard bar appears to be at a severe angle. Might limit suspension travel. Might ride really rough. Give Ron @ RPM a buzz and see what he says.

Thanks for the input. I'm wondering what an acceptable angle is? At ride height, it levels out quite a bit. Just measured it at 14 degrees with my solid shocks on. In that picture there is next to no weight on the coil overs and they sit the frame a lot higher than what it will be. The bracket on the rear was actual made with the intent on putting it under the axle. I flipped it over to level the pan hard some. At this point I can easily move either mount to level it more if needed.
Thanks Gerry. It turned out to be more complicated than I initially thought. I'm hoping to have it all mounted up this weekend though.

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