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Discussion Starter #1
So I know most of you frown on the 4x4 conversions that people have done but I live in the backwoods of Maine and as of last week my elky is burried half way up the windshield in snow and the only way I can get out of my valley in the winter is usually my beat up little 4x4 nissan.

I really enjoy driving my '85 elky but it just won't cut it in the winter where I live. I have been knocking around the idea of a 4x4 conversion and restoration at the same time. I have available to me a 77 elky missing the motor and tranny as well as almost unlimited access to the largest junkyard around.

For comfortable snow driving I require a standard transmission and good tires. I was thinking about doing a chassis swap (that's the polite term) on the 77 and conversion to standard. This would also give me an opportunity for hands on experience rebuilding a motor which I have never done but have plenty of experienced people offering to help me do it correctly.

I also want to try my hands at a frame off restoration and since such a feat as a chassis swap I can't see why this wouldn't be the perfect candidate. Maine winters are long and I would love a long project in my warm garage to pass the time.

Next thing is chances are a 4x4 conversion is going to give the elky a dramatically different stance than normal (taller) which I'm not opposed to, I have a nice normal 85 elky, and personally I like the look of big tall trucks with huge tires. BUT....

My question is... do you think it would be feasible to do a 4x4 conversion on an elky and keep the original appearance? I am sick of driving crap in the winter and if I don't take this 77 from this guys yard it's going to start to rust then it will die there.

What do you think?
 

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If you can save an elky from rusting out you should go for it and it will look a lot better then that nissan. just my 2 cents
 

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Not a Lifted Truck fan or a 4th gen fan but save the thing and make it useful. Think about it you are helping the tree huggers by recycling a car into something useful. Besides there aren't that many 4th gen fans (please don't all 12 of you respond at once now), Go for it you will have something interesting when you are done. :)
 

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There are more than 12 of us. And don't forget, when they built ours (and older) they still had real power without having to transplant it. As to making the 77 a 4x4, I think in your situation, it's a great idea and a very challenging project. I am opposed, however, to the idea of making it a high rider with giant tires. Besides, just being high off the ground doesn't increase your ground clearance more than the difference in the sidewall height of the tire. I think it would be really special if you kept it as low to the ground as possible to maintain some semblance of originality.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Yeah, I am interested in keeping the stock look on this particular project but seems like if I use a suburban or pickup chassis it's gonna be riding high and look like it needs to be tall. I don't have any experience in lowering vehicles but I suppose that's what would need to be done, start with a suburban 4x4 chassis and lower the suspension to keep the car looking normal? I suppose I'll have to parouse the junkyard taking measurements to see what the best donor chassis would be to use to reduce the number of modifcations neccessary. I'm a pretty good welder but the fewer number of mods the better. A few people have said, "Yeah, the body mounts will match right up if you just shorten the frame." I'm thinking YEAH RIGHT, why would they. I can handle all that... my only hope is that I don't have to build my own motor mounts.
 

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check the 4wd s-10 pickups. seems like an extended cab version oughta be pretty close and there's lots of conversions [engine] that have been done to them. later models would even give you independent front suspension. also should be able to keep it lower to the ground and wide tires would stay inside the wheel wells. just a thought. sounds interesting to me. hmmm? wonder what that would do with a 5th gen?????????????
 

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i live in south texas, in the country, and every redneck here has at least one truck with a lift. people have told me "why dont ya put a lift on yer el caminer?' and the thought of it makes my skin crawl. but if lifting your car a few inches is the only way you can drive in winter then do it! and i belive there are at least 13 4th gen. fans.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I have a 1982 ford F-350 ambulance in my yard that I use as a storage shed. I parked it about 2 years ago because I didn't have a use for it on the road anymore. My buddy rebuilt the motor about a year prior.

Being a resourceful scavenenger... When embarking on such a project where I am starting with an elky carcass (no engine or tranny) and I'm going to do a frame conversion to a 4x4 truck chassis what is keeping me from taking it a step further and pulling the 400 big block from my ambulance to use for the project. And since a frame swap is going to be such an enormous project anyways with all the mods that will have to be done why not simply use a ford chassis with the proper motor mounts and a ford tranny (want a stick for winter driving). It would be quite a half breed but I don't see it complicating things any more other than figuring out how to interface the speedomerter to the tranny, etc.

Thoughts?
 

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Hi Ryan -- Reading your post here reminded me of another elky from Maine that I saw at New Hampshire International Speedway last summer. It was a pretty nicely-done modification and it was used to pull the owner's trailer in which he lived while travelling to NASCAR events. Didn't get his name or address however. It's some food for thought.

 

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4x4 elky

While you are out and about in Belfast, take a short trip to Belmont on RT.3, make a left on the back belmont road. When I lived there last year a guy there on the right, about 2 houses up had a 4x4 elky. Might still be there, be worth a trip.
 
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