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post #1 of 103 Old 04-07-2017, 11:43 AM Thread Starter
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1950 Dodge Panel Van

It seems I start a new thread to document my '50 Panel Van build every year or so... Hopefully, this will be the last new thread

Check out my previous threads to get some background on what I have done to this truck in the past:
1st 1950 Panel Thread
2nd 1950 Panel Thread
3rd 1950 Panel Thread

Here's the link to the album on Photobucket.com in case you would like even more pictures: 1950 Dodge Panel Van on Photobucket.

Life is good... But, sadly, time keeps ticking away. Time to get this truck done!!!

1950 Dodge Panel Van (2007 5.7LHEMI V8)

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1966 Dodge Charger (318 C.I. Poly-head V8)
2004 Dodge Ram 2500 (5.7L HEMI - My Daily Driver)
2011 Town & Country (3.6L - Wife's Daily Driver)

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post #2 of 103 Old 04-07-2017, 12:55 PM Thread Starter
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My 2002 5.9L Magnum motor is gone. Yup... I sold it. Why? Math. I added up the list of upgrades I wanted to do in order to make that motor produce the power I wanted and said "Dude! Seriously?!" Then, I happened to realize how my target HP/TQ compared to a stock HEMI. That's all it took. Things just didn't add up to keeping that '02 engine. So I sold it. ...and, it's a good thing I did. Turns out, just like every other 5.9 out there, it had cracked heads. Admittedly, I was going to replace the heads, but that's beside the point since the replacements I was going to get lead to the high cost of upgrading that engine.

Anyway... I have acquired a 5.7L HEMI along with the attached 5-speed automatic NAG1 transmission out of a wrecked 2007 Chrysler 300C. I'm upgrading this engine as well... But the power potential is so much better on the HEMI than the Magnum motor.

Then, I began to research making that HEMI and NAG1 work in my restomod. ...gulp. So... I started to formulate a plan for making it run the way I wanted. Thanks to a few good resources, I have a very good start on getting everything I'll need to finish this truck. But, as sometimes happens, things I have worked long and hard on will have to be completely re-worked.

I have decided I want to use the factory computers to control my HEMI and transmission. I want to retain the Anti-lock Braking System. I want to retain the Sentry Security system. I also want this 1950 Panel Van to handle like it's a 2006 Charger SRT (well... like a 2006 Charger SRT with a gigantic turtle shell maybe! It's hard to make a van feel like a car when you consider body-roll.)

To that end, I picked up a second-hand insurance auction roll-over car as a donor for the suspension cradles, shock mounts and braking system. The first owner stripped out all the interior. I stripped everything else out of the car and sold what I could. I traded the 3.5L engine for a full set of computers (ECM, TCM, PCM, etc.), wiring, instrument panel and ignition mechanism with sentry security module from a 2006 Charger R/T. Oh... The front & rear brake rotors & calipers under my 2006 Charger SXT (donor) had been swapped for those from an R/T. I also have the correct gear ratio in the rear end.

I am at the point where I need to decide whether to "just" swap the suspension from the Charger over to the Panel Van or whether to graft the entire chassis to the under-side of the Panel Van. Hmm... World's first Panel Van body swap onto a uni-body chassis? Either way, I know I need to upgrade the springs and anti-sway bars to handle the extra weight (and different weight distribution) of the Van.


While considering that... I've been thinking about how this truck should accelerate. I love the way my Wife's '08 Ram accelerates.

Her truck has:
  • stock 5.7L HEMI
  • 3.92:1 differential gears
  • OEM sized (275/60R20) tires that measure 33" tall according to Tire Rack
  • a first gear that's at a 3.00:1 ratio

My Panel Van has ('06 Charger R/T w/SRT8 wheels & tires):
  • stock 5.7L HEMI
  • 2.82:1 differential gears
  • OEM sized (245/45R20) tires that measure 28.7" tall according to Tire Rack
  • a first gear that's at a 3.59:1 ratio

So doing some creative math here... The stock '08 RAM has a final drive ratio in first gear ("gear ratio"x"ratio of 1st gear") of 11.76. The Panel Van's final drive ratio in first gear is 10.1238.

If you divide the tire height by the final drive ratio, then you can compare the two vehicles to get some sort of idea of how the torque is transferred to the road (and to my seat ). The RAM gets a "tire height" to "final drive" ratio of 2.806 while the Panel Van gets a 2.835.

All this to say... The '08 RAM should feel a little more torquey than the Panel Van. So... How do I change that? Two options here (same two options car guys have been playing around with since the birth of the hotrod): Tire Size; and Gear Ratio.

If I trade up to 3.07:1 rear diff. gears, then my "tire height" to "final drive" ratio would on the Panel Van would be 2.604. Daddy Likey! Alternatively, I could change the tire size to a 245/40R20 (27.7" tall) to yield a 2.736 "tire height" to "final drive" ratio... But those tires are more expensive and, frankly, I plan to go through some tires with this fun truck
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1950 Dodge Panel Van (2007 5.7LHEMI V8)

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1966 Dodge Charger (318 C.I. Poly-head V8)
2004 Dodge Ram 2500 (5.7L HEMI - My Daily Driver)
2011 Town & Country (3.6L - Wife's Daily Driver)

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post #3 of 103 Old 05-09-2017, 11:42 AM Thread Starter
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Frame Progress

The mid-section of the new "frame" is designed and nearly ready to go under the truck and be attached. For this, I chose to design on paper vs. the computer (only because I don't have a good CAD program for doing the job... Does anyone know of a good program that won't need a co-signer?) This new chassis incorporates the front and rear sections of a unibody '06 Dodge Charger and will be welded solid to the Panel Truck. In effect, the 1950 Dodge will now be a unibody vehicle. What's awesome to me is how solid I have already made the truck. Previously, I had strengthened the truck with an interior "cage" to add points where I could attach interior panels. In so doing, I accidentally made this thing stout! In fact, as the truck sits now, the truck body (without frame) can teeter on two jack stands without flex. The test is "can you open and shut the doors?" Yes. They work perfectly. Absolutely perfectly... As if nothing had changed at all and as though it was still attached to a frame. I've done a lot of planning, measuring, cutting, measuring, welding, measuring and more planning. I'm loving it! Out with the old chassis (that I made with an inexpensive welder that was not good enough for the job) and in with the new. Next step is for me to cut out part of the floor so I can tuck the new frame up in and get it attached. Lol... Actually, the next step is for me to hang the body from the ceiling so I can remove those front jackstands so I am actually able to push the frame back and into position.
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1950 Dodge Panel Van (2007 5.7LHEMI V8)

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1966 Dodge Charger (318 C.I. Poly-head V8)
2004 Dodge Ram 2500 (5.7L HEMI - My Daily Driver)
2011 Town & Country (3.6L - Wife's Daily Driver)

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post #4 of 103 Old 05-09-2017, 12:00 PM Thread Starter
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Oh, yeah... I need to finish boxing the ends of the 2"x4" rect tube too. And I need to cut the useless rusted parts off the donor chassis tub. There are a few things that need to happen before I can weld the body to the new chassis
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File Type: jpg 20170508_204906.jpg (1.01 MB, 5 views)
File Type: jpg 20170508_204911.jpg (985.4 KB, 5 views)

1950 Dodge Panel Van (2007 5.7LHEMI V8)

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1966 Dodge Charger (318 C.I. Poly-head V8)
2004 Dodge Ram 2500 (5.7L HEMI - My Daily Driver)
2011 Town & Country (3.6L - Wife's Daily Driver)

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post #5 of 103 Old 05-10-2017, 10:47 AM Thread Starter
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Frame is welded on the underside and resting in place under the truck. What sucks is that I had to remove a good amount of the floor that I installed a couple years ago in order to get the unibody rear portion to fit. All in the name of progress.
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1950 Dodge Panel Van (2007 5.7LHEMI V8)

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1966 Dodge Charger (318 C.I. Poly-head V8)
2004 Dodge Ram 2500 (5.7L HEMI - My Daily Driver)
2011 Town & Country (3.6L - Wife's Daily Driver)

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post #6 of 103 Old 05-12-2017, 10:31 AM Thread Starter
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More progress a couple nights ago. The "frame" is in place for the moment. It will come down at least one more time for some fine-tuning and to re-build the area behind the third row of seats. I'll use the idea Dodge used to mount the battery under the trunk. It will actually be under the feet of the third row in my case. You can see the trickery I used to expand the front of the frame the extra 1/2" so it fits snugly in place. (and yes... I actually planned it this way. Otherwise, I would have had to cut more off the truck body to get the frame in place. I use that scissor jack for all kinds of things around the shop. I welded a 3/4" nut on the thing so I can lock onto it with an impact driver and bring things up and down in a flash. It works great to take big dents out of a truck body too. Just wedge a piece of 2x6 between it and the sheet metal to spread the force out and go to town. Works like a charm In any case, the frame is in place for the moment.
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1950 Dodge Panel Van (2007 5.7LHEMI V8)

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1966 Dodge Charger (318 C.I. Poly-head V8)
2004 Dodge Ram 2500 (5.7L HEMI - My Daily Driver)
2011 Town & Country (3.6L - Wife's Daily Driver)

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post #7 of 103 Old 05-15-2017, 10:35 AM Thread Starter
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Have the frame welded in, the front end tacked on and the HEMI (lightly - the transmission is sitting on a cinder block under the truck) dropped in.
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1950 Dodge Panel Van (2007 5.7LHEMI V8)

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1966 Dodge Charger (318 C.I. Poly-head V8)
2004 Dodge Ram 2500 (5.7L HEMI - My Daily Driver)
2011 Town & Country (3.6L - Wife's Daily Driver)

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post #8 of 103 Old 06-07-2017, 06:47 AM
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I like the Avenue this project has turned. I will be following this. Can't wait to see your progress

Last edited by Ricky Rodder; 06-07-2017 at 11:37 AM.
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post #9 of 103 Old 07-28-2017, 11:05 AM Thread Starter
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It's been a couple months since my last update... I spent some time last weekend welding the rear wheel wells of the panel van to the wheel wells of the '06 Charger donor chassis. Not the prettiest thing to look at, but it really doesn't matter if the wheel wells look like Dr. Frankenstein stitched them together since it will all be covered up. Regardless, it does amaze me to see everything coming together. Can't wait to see it on the road!
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1950 Dodge Panel Van (2007 5.7LHEMI V8)

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1966 Dodge Charger (318 C.I. Poly-head V8)
2004 Dodge Ram 2500 (5.7L HEMI - My Daily Driver)
2011 Town & Country (3.6L - Wife's Daily Driver)

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post #10 of 103 Old 07-28-2017, 11:30 AM Thread Starter
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OH hey... You haven't seen the new wheels yet, have you! They're off a 2016/2017 charger.
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1950 Dodge Panel Van (2007 5.7LHEMI V8)

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1966 Dodge Charger (318 C.I. Poly-head V8)
2004 Dodge Ram 2500 (5.7L HEMI - My Daily Driver)
2011 Town & Country (3.6L - Wife's Daily Driver)

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post #11 of 103 Old 07-28-2017, 04:23 PM
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Excellent!!, Maybe my panel won't be going on the durango anymore. I like this idea. Good looking wheels
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post #12 of 103 Old 08-25-2017, 10:27 AM Thread Starter
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Excellent!!, Maybe my panel won't be going on the durango anymore. I like this idea. Good looking wheels
Thank you! The Durango would certainly be an easier way... But I'm really enjoying the idea of the flexibility this platform offers since there are SO Many parts available aftermarket. For instance... I want to add airbags... Ok, buy a set for a 2006 Charger. Boom! Done! No special fab work. Just done (Well... once I raise the funding )

1950 Dodge Panel Van (2007 5.7LHEMI V8)

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1966 Dodge Charger (318 C.I. Poly-head V8)
2004 Dodge Ram 2500 (5.7L HEMI - My Daily Driver)
2011 Town & Country (3.6L - Wife's Daily Driver)

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post #13 of 103 Old 08-25-2017, 10:40 AM
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Thank you! The Durango would certainly be an easier way... But I'm really enjoying the idea of the flexibility this platform offers since there are SO Many parts available aftermarket. For instance... I want to add airbags... Ok, buy a set for a 2006 Charger. Boom! Done! No special fab work. Just done (Well... once I raise the funding )

Makes a lot of since.. So are you still using the Pt dash, or the charger?
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post #14 of 103 Old 08-25-2017, 10:44 AM Thread Starter
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Status update... I've been moving forward slowly on the Panel. I now have a full trailer hitch receiver setup and am one step closer to closing up the floor in the back

The actual receiver is a purchased piece from the local farm supply store "Farm and Fleet." The rest is my creation. I used a piece of 2"x3"x3/16" rectangular tube for the main body. You can see a 5"x16 1/2" piece of 1/4" steel behind it that ties the main body to the actual receiver tube. There is a 2" U-section of the 2x3x3/16 tube used to lower the receiver tube below the main body. A smaller 2 3/4"x2"x1/4" piece of steel was used to cap off the front of that U-section. You can also see the piece of 16ga steel I fab'ed up to house the 7-pin/4-pin trailer wiring connector. The whole thing is welded solid to the curved crossmember that was factory for the Panel Van rear-end. The ends of the main body are welded to the 2"x4"x1/8" steel frame extensions that are welded into the rear suspension sub-frame. All in all... It's a stout piece.










1950 Dodge Panel Van (2007 5.7LHEMI V8)

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1966 Dodge Charger (318 C.I. Poly-head V8)
2004 Dodge Ram 2500 (5.7L HEMI - My Daily Driver)
2011 Town & Country (3.6L - Wife's Daily Driver)

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post #15 of 103 Old 08-25-2017, 10:51 AM Thread Starter
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Makes a lot of since.. So are you still using the Pt dash, or the charger?
Good question I've got an issue there. None of the controls on the '04 PT will work with the electronics from the Charger because the '04 was pre-canbus. But... The Charger dash is much too wide for the Panel Van. And, I really like the looks and fit of the PT dash. It looks like it Should be there. ya know. However, the PT went canbus in '06. My hope is that the '06 PT electronics will work with the '06 Charger electronics. And, I'm hoping I can integrate those electronics into the '04 dash I already have... I really don't want to mess around acquiring and fitting yet another dash

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post #16 of 103 Old 08-25-2017, 11:07 AM
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post #17 of 103 Old 08-25-2017, 11:08 AM Thread Starter
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I have a transmission crossmember.


https://youtu.be/ifD4T7dUbdc

https://youtu.be/OGuUFhWdEPc


This is my (messy) band saw. I use used motor oil to keep the blade cool since it's "free" and in my shop already. And besides, it's Mobil1... It's too expensive to just throw away!


All the pieces are cut and ready to assemble.


All the pieces laid out and ready to weld.


Welded and half-dressed.


Ah... Fully Dressed welds.


Not the best looking here, but this part will rarely be seen.


Notice the newly notched end and how the other end looks larger now. The transmission (and engine) in the LX cars is not actually dead center in the chassis. If you look closely, you'll notice a couple bad welds... One on either side of the 6" bottom piece (toward the left of the picture). A line appeared after I fully dressed the welds. It's the seam where the pieces of 2"x3" steel tubing came together. Don't worry... I see them and will be sure they are fixed. I should have chamfered the tubing more before welding.


I will clean everything up later, but she's welded in. You can also see from this pic that I have a lot of loose ends to tie up under the truck. There are tubing ends to box up and all sorts of temporary things that will need permanent solutions before I call her "ready for paint."

1950 Dodge Panel Van (2007 5.7LHEMI V8)

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1966 Dodge Charger (318 C.I. Poly-head V8)
2004 Dodge Ram 2500 (5.7L HEMI - My Daily Driver)
2011 Town & Country (3.6L - Wife's Daily Driver)

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Last edited by BDL; 08-25-2017 at 11:28 AM.
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post #18 of 103 Old 08-25-2017, 11:38 AM Thread Starter
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Next comes the trunk floor. The trunk floor that was in the '06 Charger donor is worthless since the battery leaked all over it. I had never considered the toll battery acid could take on steel. Snap your fingers and the steel will rust away before your very eyes.

My trunk floor is a slightly different shape than the OEM LX car trunk floor, so a clean junkyard LX trunk floor would need to be re-shaped, if nothing else. So, I picked up a "bin" that usually holds the third seat on a Dodge minivan. It's large enough that I can cut it down to fit my space perfectly. I'll still need to acquire the battery tray nuts and spare tire hold-down from another OEM LX car, but they'll weld into anything I put together with no issues.

Floor tray donor!!!


If you look close, you can see the bin is actually a removable piece. It's an option on the minivan to have the fold-away seats (or whatever they're called), so I'm thinking this tray must be a piece they only put into the vans with that option. I could be wrong though... who knows.

1950 Dodge Panel Van (2007 5.7LHEMI V8)

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1966 Dodge Charger (318 C.I. Poly-head V8)
2004 Dodge Ram 2500 (5.7L HEMI - My Daily Driver)
2011 Town & Country (3.6L - Wife's Daily Driver)

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post #19 of 103 Old 08-25-2017, 11:14 PM Thread Starter
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Installed the floor this afternoon/evening.

Inside the Panel Van from the back






Inside the Panel Van from the inside out. The camera is making it all look crooked... Trust me on this. It's straight.







Under the trunk







1950 Dodge Panel Van (2007 5.7LHEMI V8)

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1966 Dodge Charger (318 C.I. Poly-head V8)
2004 Dodge Ram 2500 (5.7L HEMI - My Daily Driver)
2011 Town & Country (3.6L - Wife's Daily Driver)

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post #20 of 103 Old 08-26-2017, 01:33 AM
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Looks good. Fantastic progress.
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