As it turns out, my friend and main mechanical man Alex (the "adult supervision" I often refer to in my online posts and comments) has a '69 Firebird rear end that he thought would work well. I stopped by his place one afternoon to measure it up, then came home to measure the truck. Couldn't believe it when the truck rear end measured up exactly the same - 56" between the backing plates and 42.5" from center to center of the spring mounts. Good to go!
While getting ready to clean up and prep the Firebird rear, which was in pieces, we discovered one of the axles was missing. Alex thought he might have sold it off, but wasn't sure. I made a couple stops on the way home that day and ended up with another friend, Lew, who thought he had a line on a Nova rear end that would work. Just had to wait for his connection to get back to him.
A week or so later, while waiting for word on the Nova, I got a text from Alex:
"Found the other axle."
Suddenly the Firebird rear was back in the mix. I called Lew immediately to let him know so he wouldn't keep searching. Turns out the entire Nova had just been dropped off at his shop and he was getting ready to call me. "No problem," he said. "If anything happens and you end up needing another rear end, it's here. Just come get it." Great big thank you to Lew. Can't say how much I appreciate his willingness to jump right in and lend a hand. Check out his business here. They do pretty much everything, including incredible custom and restoration work.
So we were finally good to go with the Firebird rear end but we also need a drive shaft, because the truck still sports the original enclosed shaft that won't work. And from what I understand there's a way to make the original 3 speed transmission work with this new configuration, but we figured if you're going to swap in a new rear and drive shaft, you might as well also go with a T-5 transmission (5 speed manual) from an 80's S-10, which will bolt right up to our original bell housing. The biggest challenge would be finding a T-5 that wouldn't break my limited bank. As I started my search I discovered this could be a problem. Those things ain't cheap.
After a couple days of searching and wondering, along comes another seemingly magical text from Alex:
"Found your tranny."
"Whaaat?! You did not," I said out loud to myself as I read it.
He remembered that a friend had wrecked his S-10 truck, bought another for parts and is going to make one whole truck out of the two, so he made a call. Sure enough, the friend is willing to sell the spare T-5, drive shaft and rear end. I'm not sure if the whole package will measure up with my truck, but we're going to give it a shot. Worst case, we go with the T-5, the Firebird rear end and different shaft. One way or another, we'll be rockin' 5 on the floor and hittin' the highway with ease this spring.
Here's some great info on the T-5 tranny swap, for any fellow Advance Design Chevy truck owners who might be considering it.
And check out the Facebook page where Alex posts pictures of his projects just for fun.
Grabbed this shot yesterday (3/26/16) after taking some measurements underneath
See y'all down the road!