An I.F.S Bolt-On A Bolt-in IFS For 1947 - 1953 Trucks

Article Author
J.T. Joyce
Article Revision
American Rodder, May 1992
Elapse Time
1 weekend

Here's a pretty veg but good article on a simple bolt in front suspension using a 1977 Chevy truck IFS. Since many 70's vehicle's seemed to have gone to a "clip" (meaning that the IFS is bolted to the frame as an assembly, rather then welded/riveted to the frame) type front end...seems like a pretty good rate to go for those on a tight budget, however beware of it's pros & cons.

The author of this article forgot to mention a few details:

  • The 1973 - 1987 truck IFS is 1" wider at the frame rails then the 1947 - 1955 1st series frame.
  • 1/2" spacers per side are nessecary for the frame rails, idler arm and stearing box.
  • The steering column must be replaced or modified for the steering coupler and shaft.
  • The master cylinder must be replaced to accommodate the disc/drum brake arrangement.
  • Negative offset rims are nessecary for the wider track width.
  • Take into consideration the bolt-pattern and lug count of the rims you plan on using.
  • The lower control arms hang down fairly low and are visible at a distance.
  • You may find this IFS is still too wide and might want to consider an alternative.

A simple switch of parts from a late-Chevy pickup straight over to an earlier one, a truck with a little more soul.

It's hardly high-tech, and you'd be hard pressed to call this conversion state-of-the-art, but the result is undeniable: An old Chevy truck that rides & handles like a new one.

This is a home-brew swap in the truest sense of the term, too. You don't even need a welder to pull it off, as there's no grafting of the new front subframe to the old rails, like there would be with the more-common Nova swap. The parts and the trucks involved here are a '77 Chevy half-ton pickup (the front-end donor), and my old faithful, a '53 Chevy half-tonner.

I found a 1977 Chevy in a wrecking yard. It had only 30,000 miles on it before someone tried to drive it on it's roof. The price for the complete front suspension was $50, hard to beat. Before I unbolted a single thing on the '77, I took plenty of careful measurements, diagraming where and how the factory had installed the front suspension. Then I took everything home and just bolted it into the '53.

Since the 1977's suspension mounts where 1/2" wider than needed on the '53, I made up some 1/2" thick spacer plates for each side, rather than de-rivet & remount the '77's mounts. The idler arm on the right side also had to be spaced over that same 1/2". While I was at it, I bought the '77's power-steering box and pump (for $75) and bolted them on, too.

To drop the front end down a little, I cut a coil-and-a-half out of each spring. Finally, I took the whole deal over to an alignment shop, where they had absolutely no problems getting everything set up correctly. It's a simple deal and the stance of the finished swap isn't bad at all. But best of all, the '53 handles and drives just great. Which is just what you'd expect, because the '53 is really a '77 and as you can see it didn't take much to get it that way.