Not all frame exercises have to entail large suitcases full of money. Oftentimes the simple route can also be the most inexpensive, but remember many times there is a trade out. In this case, our '58-64 GM frame needed a redo to handle today's driving chores but more importantly-on a budget.

At first look, you'd think any early GM full-size car would have more than enough structure to handle any kind of engine power we could conjure up. But the fact is the '58-64 GM vehicle used an X-frame that could use a bit of help to increase its resistance to flex for better road holding ability and to avoid those pesky squeaks that are common with these full-size machines. In addition, when you factor in the additional horsepower often tucked between the framerails, we knew some additional work was in order to keep things together.

The GM X-frame is a simple structure: an X-frame of metal with coil springs front and rear to support the body and create the suspension mounts as well a few crossbraces to keep it square. The system is so simple that the body attaches only to the front and the rear of the frame, the centersection devoid of any attachment points, another reason for spending the time to bolster the frame strength.

The '61 Impala has proven to be a great project and challenged us to think uniquely about its restoration and ultimate use. We stripped off the old suspension components, bushings, and hardware and checked the frame for straightness and integrity (translation-rusty thin spots). By taking measurements on the diagonal from corner to corner, we determined that the frame was in great shape, straight, and true.

Next we media blasted the metal clear of years of age and debris. Luckily, there were no areas needing repair or straightening. Even the framehorns, which are commonly bent, were fine. Key to the strengthening program we were conducting would be the creation of a welded metal enclosure to support the X-frame itself. Basically we would design a custom "box" to encapsulate the frame. We started with cardboard templates so we could test-fit the pieces that we would later create from metal.

Follow along as we demonstrate the basic techniques involved. Regardless of the style of vehicle you have, taking the time to improve the strength of your vehicle's frame can only be beneficial for handling and durability.

SOURCE
Miller Electric
1635 W. Spencer Street
Appleton
WI  54912
920-734-9821
www.millerwelds.com
Metalcraft Tools
17 Park Lane Spur
Crossville
TN  38571
931-707-7778
www.metalcrafttools.com
Auto Body Color & Supply
321 Wilhagen Road
Nashville
TN  37217
615-726-0361
www.autobodycolor.com
Tennsmith, Inc.
6926 Smithville Highway
McMinnville
TN  37110
931-934-2211
www.tennsmith.com