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Think Your 4x4 Lacks Aftermarket Support? Try Building a 1935 Chevy Ton-and-a-Half

Posted in Features on September 28, 2018
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“When I saw the cab lying in a field I knew it was what I wanted for my project,” Dan Owings tells us, describing his 1935 Chevy ton-and-a-half. He was wheeling a Toyota pickup at the time. While the Toyota was incredible capable, it wasn’t particularly unique. Contrast that with a truck that dates back to before the Jeep was even a twinkle in American Bantam’s eye!

Of course, there isn’t much original left under the classic Chevy cab. The foundation is an International Scout 800 frame that Dan used to hang a custom link suspension, front and rear. True to the roots of rockcrawling, he built the whole vehicle himself using junkyard parts and custom fabrication. “There aren’t a lot of bolt-on parts for a 1935 Chevy,” he jokes. He didn’t let that stop him from building a unique, capable vehicle without breaking the bank.

Dan Owings designed the front suspension as a three-link with a Panhard bar. The links are solid 1 5/8-inch cold-rolled steel with 1-inch rod ends, so they should never bend or break. The 15-inch-long Eibach coils are used at each corner. The fronts have a 225-lb/in rate, while the rears have 175-lb/in. The front shocks are 14-inch-travel Rancho RS9000s with 22-inch-long limit straps to keep the suspension from overextending.
The front axle is a Dana 60 out of a Chevy K30 with kingpin knuckles and a standard-rotation centersection. The brakes on these trucks are huge, so they were left stock. The internals were upgraded though with 5.38 gears and a Spartan Locker. Dan built his own mount for the PSC double-ended hydraulic ram and integrated a skidplate that is removable to access the differential.
The rear suspension is a three-link with a Panhard bar. Note that the Panhard bar connects at the frame end on the passenger side in the rear, opposite of the front to limit body roll. More 15-inch Eibach coils work with 10-inch-travel Rancho RS5000 shocks to suspend the Chevy.
A super-strong 14-bolt rear axle lives out back, with 5.38 gears and a spool under the diff cover. The one downside to these axles is the lack of ground clearance under the centersection, but with 42-inch Pit Bull Rockers, Dan didn’t need to shave the housing in order to keep it out of the rocks.
Power comes from a 305ci Chevy V-8 that was donated by Scott Hendrick, Dan’s boss at Hendrick’s Automotive in Gardnerville, Nevada. The engine is stock for reliability and runs a Quadrajet carb. Cooling has been a challenge since radiator space is limited by the grille shell on the front of the truck, but Dan recently added a second radiator from a Honda Civic and reports that it solved all the cooling issues.
The interior of the cab is snug to say the least. Dan chopped the top 3 inches and took 6 inches off the bottom of the cab. The steering wheel is on a quick release to allow easier ingress and egress; it connects to a PSC orbital valve for the full hydraulic steering.
As a parent it was important to Dan to share his love for the outdoors with his son and daughter, so he added rear seats and five-point harnesses to the back of the Chevy. Dan built the bed himself out of 1 3/4x0.120-wall DOM tubing and put in a full rollcage to keep his kids safe. The cage is topped with a Smittybilt bikini top for a Jeep to provide shade.

Tech Specs

1935 Chevy ton-and-a-half
Engine: 305ci Chevy V-8
Transmission: TH350 3-speed automatic
Transfer Case: Offroad Design NP203/NP205 Doubler
Front Axle: Dana 60 with 5.38 gears and Spartan Locker
Rear Axle: 14-bolt with 5.38 gears and spool
Springs & Such: 3-link and Panhard bar with Eibach coils and Rancho shocks (front and rear)
Tires & Wheels: 42X15.0-17LT Pit Bull Rocker on 17x9 Pro Comp
Steering: Full hydraulic with PSC double-ended ram, orbital valve, pump, and reservoir
Lighting: Halogen hot rod headlights
Other Stuff: Scout 800 frame, rear seats, and harnesses for kids; Optima RedTop battery; chopped top; dual radiators; custom rolled tube fenders

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