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Up to ten motorcycles now
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My 2001 Dak is at 205,000 miles, starts always, doesn't leak anything, coolant level is finally stable (for now with Leak Stop poured in), but the ravages of Wisconsin winters are catching up to it.

I recently found a 56 C100 big window short box, for $3000. Pictures looks like its solid all the glass is there, but the driver's side glass is busted (easy one to fix), and there's a dent in the roof (easy fix on old metal). I'll get eyes on it this Thursday. I'll buy it if it all checks out. No title, but no big issue with a bill of sale and it would be the cab/box to replace the cab/box on my 2001 Dak. The 2001 donor would be the entire chassis, entire interior, floor pan/firewall, basically everything but the 2001 sheet metal other than the gas filler door section of the bed. I have always wanted a vintage daily driver, looking old but driving modern and full featured. With the Dak cab/box off I'd go through the chassis and repair/replace as needed, all new bushings/mounts/bearings, etc to update the chassis to new state.

I'd replace the NP3500 5-spd with a 65RFE 6-spd automatic so my wife can drive it too. She'd enjoy driving something vintage other than just me. I'd either get the 4.7 rebuilt/updated to the HO version, or possibly sell it and get a crate 318 motor. The 4.7 has some issues design wise, but those can be addressed with a modern rebuild. But a crate 318 may be a great option. So am I blindly crazy or is it reasonable? A replacement used pickup is easily a $20,000 choice, and its still just a current pickup. With the purchase of the 56 C100 I could have a unique daily driver for far less than $20 large.
 

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Sounds ambitious and would be cool. If rust is eating away at your Dakota body, before going too far, I would check the frame rails on the Dak just ahead of the rear tires where the frame is lapped. You might be surprised at what you find.
 

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Honestly, it sounds like your truck is the wrong donor for this project. You want to ditch or rebuild your current engine. It sounds like the typical head gasket issues, so head work at a minimum, rebuild for longevity. Then you want to ditch the trans for a non matching 6 speed auto. It should bolt to your 4.7 engine. But even with reprogramming, it may only operate as a 5 speed. And there's no way I know of to make the 65RFE work behind a 318. THEN, you still need to rebuild the suspension, with possible frame rust issues.

I'm a big fan of a matching drivetrain. It's more likely that everything will run/shift/drive when put back together. Do you want the 65RFE so your wife can drive an automatic? Or because you gotta have the 6-speed auto? You might consider an entire drivetrain swap (or whole truck?) from a 2012 ish Ram that has your 65RFE, then you'll get to pick 4.7 or hemi.

I suggest a different route: shop for a different donor. Look for a Dakota or Durango with the 318 (5.2) that you're after (I prefer the 360/5.9), with an automatic. Sure it's a 4 speed auto, but it works well and you know it'll operate behind the engine it's mated to. Most likely, to the wife, an auto is an auto. Rebuild the trans for longevity. Rebuild the engine for longevity and/or power, or throw in your crate motor and swap over the fuel injection items from your donor. Refresh the suspension like you need to on your current truck. Drive it a couple months to make sure the bugs are worked out. Do it again after the body swap. If you're going to rebuild the whole drivetrain anyway, then you could save some money by shopping for non running donors. When your done, sell your current truck. Or keep it. Plus it'll make a good run around truck while the project is in pieces.
 

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Up to ten motorcycles now
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
My reasons for seeking a 65REF tranny is for highway fuel economy. My Dak with the 5-spd, if I keep the engine rpm at or under 2000 will produce 20mpg+. I do a lot of highway driving. So if i could set up my project with a rebuilt 4.7V8 with the 6-speed 65RFE I could get 20mpg on a regular basis. Some power when I chose it, decent mileage when I want it.
 

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Up to ten motorcycles now
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Well I did it. I bought a 1956 C series short box Dodge pickup. I'll be the 3rd owner. Checked it out this week and even though its a Wisconsin truck all its life, the cab is solid throughout; door bottoms, cab corners, cab footwells, firewall, door posts, front fenders/front fascia/headlight buckets area, all solid. When the truck was new back in 56 someone applied some type of rust proof coating, and it has REALLY done this 56 very well. Too bad the same wasn't done for the box and rear fenders. Rust there, but repairable. In fact the cab rustproofing is in such good shape I won't disturb it or remove it. Likely just clean it up, smooth it out, paint over it.

All the glass is there, except the driver's door glass is cracked. Door open smoothly and close/latch easily. Original paint is good enough, with just a bit of patina, that I'll clean it, buff it, clear satin coat it. For now the 56 goes into storage to wait when I am retired and then I mount the cab/box onto a Dakota chassis to become my vintage daily driver. Some day it'll be a 1956 Job Rated Dakota. Even the "Job Rated" emblems are in good shape.
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Nice score!
Sounds like a good long term plan, post the updates as you do them.
 
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