Change a 2wd into a 4wd

Hey guys, I would to buy an older suburban, but all I can find are two wheel drives. The one I have my eye on is a 1960 with no motor or transmission. What would it take to turn it into a 4x4?

it would take a masochist :slight_smile:

…or someone like my son. pretty cool project but it will take time, hard work and probably a good amount of money

Easy. Sell it and buy a 4x4. Maybe you should expand the area you are looking in. Ere are a lot of on line classifieds. Maybe you could find some within a couple hundred miles of home if you haven’t looked that far already.

More money then you ever plan to save by buying an older car to begin with. Jay Leno would not touch that project.
14 mpg isn’t low enough ?

Not worth it. You could buy a new 4wd cheaper.

Do an online search of classic and collector dealers near you and let them know what you are looking for. You can also check the collector auction sites to see what is being offered. You will have things left to do to make it what you want but the heavy lifting is done.

Even though it is not an economic way to spend your money, you could do it as a hobby. In that case, looked for the axles, differential, and transfer case at a surplus yard. I’d put new suspension parts on it. Of course, you will need a rebuilt engine and transmission too. I would go with a gasoline engine instead of a diesel.

I agree with the posters here, especially on a 54 year old truck! For a factory-type install, you would need every single factory part, and there are a lot, to make the swap. Try finding a 54 year old part, just one, not reproduced by the aftermarket. Now, if you don’t care about originality, there are lots of sources that can provide many parts needed to do this BUT, you need to be able to cut metal and weld, at least tack weld. Finish welding should be done by someone who really knows their stuff (or you might die!). Bring muscle, smarts, measuring tools and lots of cash. With those, anything is possible.

Your son is a masochist ? Mine too.

or dagosa… or. lol.

Make a Desert Runner out of it(much cheaper) or buy a used Cherokee-Kevin

First question, was the 1960 Suburban even available with 4wd. If it wasn’t, then about your only option is to find a 4wd truck about the same size with a rotted out body, then restore the frame and running gear and put the Suburban body onto it.

Even then you may have to do a lot of cutting and welding of the floor pan to accommodate any differences.

The 1960 Suburban may have an X frame, if it does, that will make the swap almost impossible.

I know the 1963 was available with 4WD, I had had one. It even had 305 V-6.

Up until the 1960 model year, when GM redesigned the front suspension on their truck line, all components for GM 4 x 4s were supplied by NAPCO, which was based in Minneapolis. In 1960, GM started making their own components, and I’m guesing they’re gonna be tough to find, and expensive when you do.

I think if you’re bound and determined to have an early 4 x 4 Suburban, your best bet is to measure your wheelbase and treadwidth, then start looking for a rolled/totaled modern 4 x 4 truck with comparable dimensions, then “just” drop the body onto the modern frame and drivetrain. I say “just” becuase there’ll be a lot of fabbing and modifications to make before you’ll have something driveable.

I"m reasonably sure that year was available with 4WD. The big problem is finding parts or a donor vehicle to convert it with as it would likely require front suspension, steering gear, differential, etc, etc which are probably different from the 2WD.

My suggestion? Forget the 4WD and drop a 454 in it.

Thank you, now I have a lot to think about.

Thank you, now I have a lot to think about.

If you’re going to this much trouble, you just gotta consider customization with 4-wheel steering. Then you can crab-walk the thing down Main St. and blow minds!

Yep the way it’s usually done is by trading.

Even without the 4WD a Suburban of that era would be a pretty neat vehicle to have. How many other people in the 'hood would have one…

A small car dealer near where I used to live had one of those old 2WD Suburbans on his lot with a hefty price tag on it. It really looked stunning with fire engine red paint, custom wheels, and the entire interior done up in red and white vinyl.
The interior looked like a bowl of peppermints and practically glowed in the dark.