There are several reasons that '49-54 Chevys were always seen more as custom bait than hot rod material. One of those is the fact that they all came with straight-six power. Oh sure, the sixes could be made to run strong with speed parts (particularly if you swapped in a big inline GMC), but it wasn't the same as having a Rocket Olds, a hopped-up flathead, or (in later years) a small-block Chevy under the hood.
These days, '49-54 Chevys are still good candidates for projects because they're relatively plentiful, fairly affordable, and darn nice lookin' to boot. But the desire for V-8 power remains, especially in this era of cross-country journeys and 75-mph speed limits. Fortunately, swapping in a Chevy V-8 and modern transmission is easier than ever thanks to aftermarket parts like the new engine mounts and transmission crossmembers made by Walton Fabrication.
We recently cruised up to Walton's facility in Upland, California, to watch the installation of these new parts in a '54 Chevy. The Walton engine mounts require weld-in installation, but have a convenient design feature in the form of locating holes that align with holes on the Chevy frame to ensure proper placement. The mounts will work with stock suspensions as well as many aftermarket IFS kits. The transmission crossmember bolts in using existing holes, but is also welded at a couple of mounting points. It features a bolt-in transmission mount plate (for easy tranny removal) that can be adjusted to accept nearly any GM transmission from a Powerglide to an electronic overdrive. Of course, installing a newer transmission means you'll be converting to an open driveline, so you'll also need a new driveshaft and different rearend to complete your V-8 and transmission swap.
Now more than ever it's easy to have a V-8 in your Chevy. Check out the photos and see for yourself.