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Replace the body of a new car with the body of a classic car?

Do you guys think it would be possible to take the body off a junked classic car (specifically, a 1968 Chevy Impala) and put it on the body of a newer car of similar size? And how much would you guys guess it would cost?

I’m a college student right now, and though I love the look of classic cars (who doesn’t?) I can’t justify buying one because I wouldn’t have the time or money to maintain it in the long run, and I need something I can use more reliably. I’m hoping to have about $20,000 saved up for this project in the next few years, with an estimated $15,000 for the new car and $5,000 for the body work. All tips/advice are welcome

The first trick will be matching both the wheelbase (the distance from the center of the front wheels to the center of the rear wheels) and the track (distance between the left side wheels and the right side wheels). Truthfully, most modern cars have a much shorter wheelbase and a much narrower track than “boats” like a '68 Impala, and the differences make your concept…difficult…and maybe impossible.

And, then there is the problem of matching the grill opening of that Impala with the radiator of the newer car. If you don’t get it exactly right, air flow to the radiator will be a problem, and overheating will result.

Then, there is the issue of mounting the body to the frame. This will be especially problematic, since the mounts will undoubtedly be in somewhat different places on the older car and the newer one.

With the application of enough money, anything can be done, but I don’t think that your budget will be sufficient for this project. You actually might spend less money fixing up that '68 Chevy than trying to graft its body onto a newer chassis.

First, you need to find a car with a frame. Most, if not all, cars for he last25 years are unibody, meaning that the chassis and body are manufactured together. You can’t remove the body from the frame as you can with the 1968 Impala. It might be better to find another B-body GM car. Any big GM car of that era will use the B-body.

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What’s wrong with the Impala’s frame?? MUCH cheaper just to restore the Chevy…

The ONLY modern car in that size still made with a frame is the Ford Panther platform. Crown Vic, Grand Marquis, Town Car. And those are no longer in production.

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Hey, Caddyman, are you sure the Grand Marquis is no longer in production?

Pretty sure… Ford kept the Vic plant open one more year (2008) to make fleet vehicles only (Police & Taxi) if I read the Biz article correctly…Maybe they still make a Grand Marq on a different (new) platform. But I’m pretty sure the Panther is history…If I find out different, I’ll post back…

Mercury has stated the Grand Marquis will remain in production in its current from until 2010; after that, it is rumored that Ford may either develop a new platform or utilize the current DC2 platform, which underpins the Ford Mustang, for a new Grand Marquis…

So the Vic is gone except Police & Taxi fleet sales and the last Panthers to be sold to the public are/will be Grand Marq’s…

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Newer car of similar size? I don’t have any data right in front of me, but I’m pretty sure that even the Crown Vic is smaller than this thing. Maybe the 90’s Chevy Caprices might have been about the same size, but that’s starting to push the definition of “newer”. Maybe you could put it on some sort of 2wd truck frame?

Realistically, though, very few advances have been made in “frame” technology for frame-on cars (they’re still big hunks 'o metal), so why not stick with the Impala frame? If yours is in generally decent shape, you can always upgrade to a modern engine/transmission, brakes, suspension, etc. and end up with what I think you’re envisioning.

Just buy a Chrysler PT Cruiser.

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This is not a real feasible idea. Anything is possible but this would be a giant headache and it’s likely that you would ever be happy with the end result.

If you can save 20 grand you should be able to buy a pretty decent 68 Impala. (unless it was an SS 427 version)
An example for a lot less than 20.|39%3A1|72%3A317|240%3A1318

Sorry, gotta agree with the others. There’s no practical way to get a reliable frankencar for $20k. You could get a daily driver for $10k and a old cruiser for $10k, instant hobby.

Guys have been doing this for years in the Kit Car industry. Chop the body off and gut the interior of a VW bug, or a Fiero, and put the body of a “classic” on top of the old “chassis”. Pretty cool when its done correctly, a horrible thing if done wrong. If you want to get something cheap, look for a project in this area, started but given-up on. Actually a few nice designs . . . Cobra . . . Shelby . . . Porsche . . . . Ferrari . . . some pretty cars. Rocketman

You cannot, because modern cars are all unibody.

However, trucks are a different story. Had my '89 Toyota pickup not gotten totalled I was toying with the idea of using the chassis and an old '20s type body to create a “rat rod”. A “rat rod” is a vehicle cobbled together from various old parts. Long ago many kids in rural areas used to get their first cars that way. It’s amazing what you can do with a welding torch and a bit of determination.

Going this way is the hard road. However I’ve seen two examples of similar type work. The first is a 2005 Corvette with a body panel kit to make it look more like a 60’s Stingray. This was concieved by Goodmark Industries. I saw a demo model, and it looks funky with the 2005 modern-raked windscreen. Also, because the wheel dimensions are different, the final car had a stretched look about it, and did not feel right to me. The other was a 40’s Ford look-a-like panel kit for late-model SUV. It, too looked funky and out of sorts. Both of these were fiberglass dress-up kits, not original body panels.

I’ve also seen lots of classics that have been upgraded with modern drivetrains. I saw a TV show featuring a 1972 Dodge Charger with a Viper V10 engine and 6-speed gearbox. It looked sweet, and had a serious growl. This is actually easier than it seems, with so many crate engines, including EFI models, and so many classic car restoration companies around to restore the original look and improve the safety and handling of the classic cars. Suspension and brakes can be easily upgraded with bolt-in replacements.

Currently, I’m starting work on a '62 Thunderbird, and planning on doing some brake upgrades with disc brakes all-around, suspension upgrades that include improved front a-arms and sway bars front and back, and a 5.0L EFI engine and AOD transmission for an improved drive-train. I’m contemplating adding a roll-bar on the inside so I can add a shoulder harness.

I just think that updating a classic is far more bang for the buck than dressing up something modern to look older.

Can you weld? Another idea is to weld up a new frame. Just make sure it’s better than the original. You could use aluminum tubing for the new frame.

Investigate some of the Kit Car magazines. The kit car manufacturers offer classic rebodies for popular used cars. I’ve seen one company that offers 30’s studebaker bodies to fit Chevy S10 frames and running gear. You may find something that appeals to you.

There use to be a company out there that does this…kinda…

It takes a 80’s engine and front assembly and puts it on their classic car. I saw this at the Boston Auto-show some years ago. But I’m pretty sure they’re out of business now.

The 68 Impala was a body-on frame design. It was a pretty big car (I owned a 67 for a while). There is nothing I know of that could come close to accepting the body.

It would be far cheaper and easier to find a old car and restore it then try to retro-fit it to something.

hey guys, i really appreciate all the help. i still want to end up with an impala somehow haha, but the general consensus seems to be that it would be way more trouble than it’s worth, so i’ll look into some of the other suggestions here. thanks again


Hey man, it’s funny we’re in the same boat here (OK land yacht) I’m also looking into the same thing as well, I have a 68 impala and the frame is clapped out along with the entire drive terrain (seriously). She doesn’t have the original block anymore so I’m not worried about originality anymore. I’m in college as well and wanted to get her to be a daily driver. I wanted a car to part out, and was looking at a 94-96 impala ss (cue the hate for gutting a soon to be classic) but I wanted all of the beefed up internals of the car, from the rear end all the way up to the engine. I’ve also been concering taking the body off of the impala/caprice (wichever I can find for cheap yet sound) and just rolling the frame with the power terrain all under my body. The dimensions aren’t too far off and may work but will be a pain. However finding parts for our b-bodies aren’t as easy as going on a catalog, and finding parts such as a Mustang or chevelle. If anyone else has their 2 cents that would be appreciated. The new frame with all the other goodies would be a better platform to build on from here on out, or so I belive for down the road.

“7 YEARS LATER” . . . !


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Vehicle frames from one generation to the next may have nothing in common, a 1990’s Chevrolet frame will not match the body of a 1967-1970 Chevrolet. This would require hours of cutting and welding to transform a late model frame to fit a classic vehicle.

I don’t know how a frame becomes “clapped out”, I suspect you have a rusty car. There are plenty of these old rust free Chevrolets in the southwest available for $5000, you may consider buying a project car and using your car for parts. Neither one of you mentioned which model Chevrolet you own. If it is a SS fastback I can understand the desire to save the vehicle, if it is a four door sedan you are crazy.

If your budget is $20,000 you are close to buying a really good car;