Ron Marler of Lakeview, Arkansas, his twin brother Donald and son Landon are undertaking an ambitious chassis swap — they’re widening a 1947-54 Advance Design Chevrolet 3100 truck body 5 full inches so that it fits a Chevrolet SSR donor chassis and drivetrain.
The project started out with two trucks: a 1952 Chevrolet 3100 as the primary body donor, and a 1949 GMC for the sheet metal donor.
The original plan was to chassis swap an S10 under the truck, and to bolt in an LS motor.
During planning for that swap, and in an effort to save time, Ron started looking at custom chassis and stumbled across a Chevrolet SSR chassis at Cleveland Power and Performance in Cleveland, Ohio with only 40,000 miles on it — Decision Made — S10 / LS swap idea is out the window!
Ron started disassembling the ’52 Chevrolet, which with a 116” wheelbase, would be perfect for the build… and then the SSR track width was considered.
The SSR chassis and drivetrain is way too wide for the 3100 sheet metal.
After some research, Ron found another guy that was doing the same swap with an SSR chassis — but it looked like he had put zero-offset wheels on that stuck way outside the fenders — not the direction Ron wanted to go.
At this point, Ron was ready to scrap the SSR chassis, pull the motor and transmission, and get an S10 frame and start all over.
After stewing on it for a few days, and knowing that his twin brother Donald could do anything when it comes to modifying anything, he stopped by his shop and to see what he thought about cutting the truck body in half length-wise and adding a full 5” to the width of the truck so it would cleanly fit over the SSR chassis.
Donald looked at him and said, “that’s the only thing that we can do and keep the truck looking right.” So the cutting started.
A matrix of cross supports and a crafty sleeved spreader bar setup was implemented to spread the cab halves in a uniform manner.
The cab was spread a full 5 inches. A jig-table was constructed to support the halves of cab as the sheet metal was pieced and welded back together.
One of the hassles experienced was no two parts were alike — The new grill that was purchased and one that Ron drove to Kentucky to get had different profiles, and couldn’t be used to make the 5” pieces needed to fill in what was cut out of the grill.
Ron contacted Dynacorn directly about their replacement parts, told them what he was doing, and they found a grill in Texas that had the same manufacturing numbers and codes. Each of the presses used on these parts were close, but each had slightly different profiles, so this grill matched-up and worked perfectly.
So for each part to be widened, Ron sourced two parts that had matching press codes on them, including the grille, header panel, and tailgate.
Widening the Bed
All the sheet metal welds were butt-welded with thousands of spot welds both outside and inside.
This truck is a very capable SSR chassis swapped 3100 that is sure to get quite a few double-takes when on the road and at the shows.
Bodywork, Fitment and Primer / Sealer
Sound, Vibration, and Moisture Proofing
Bed liner from Scorpion Protective Coatings was used inside the cab and underneath for soundproofing, vibration dampening and as a water barrier — this truck will be no stranger to the open road.
The Chevrolet LSSR Gets Color
The body has been skim-coated multiple times and sanded with a longboard and primed and sanded five times.
9 gallons of primer were sprayed on, and an estimated seven gallons were sanded right back off.
Getting ready to spray — mixing the paint…
Ron did what one has to do when a paint booth is not available: he cleaned and prepped the shop, hung some plastic sheet, plugged in the big fan…
…and proceeded to very capably lay on the color.
Widened Truck Bed Walk-Around
With the paint cured, reassembly of the truck ensues.
Equipping and Dressing the Interior
This one-off high-end build required a one-off high-end speaker grille and glove box door set to fit the 5″ wider dashboard. Ron turned to LS Fabrication who CNC machined a custom billet solution engraved with CHEVROLET LSSR.
The engraved billet dashboard installed makes for a very clean finish.
Rolling Out of the Shop
Custom Oak Bed Wood, in Walnut
Ron runs the ripped oak bedwood boards through the jointer to create a slot for the metal hold-down strips.
The thirsty oak boards get the color of Walnut stain before a couple of coats of polyurethane, a thorough sanding, and two more coats.
Installing Custom Made Glass
Steel Rubber Products produced the one-off windshield gasket.
Stay Tuned for the Completion of this Chassis Swap…
This is not the first custom build that the trio has done, but it was the hardest. They don’t have fancy metal breaks and shears, or a paint booth, but they made do with what they had.
Thus far, this capable team has invested thousands of hours over 2.5 years on the build.