Here’s the background on our Suburban.

 

Before the Suburban I had several old cars – the latest and most favorite being a 1966 Chevy C10 pickup.  It was a daily driver I picked up in Georgia, and kept when I moved back to Massachusetts.   I restored it and stopped driving it daily and certainly not in the New England winter. 

 

The problem was, my wife and I went and had 2 sons.  Now we couldn’t all drive in the truck together – at least not safely or comfortably.  I had joined the Northeast Chevy GMC Truck Club and at my first couple of shows I saw and fell in love with Suburbans.  My favorite was Attilio Soprano’s 1962.  I actually had a picture of it up over my desk long before I knew Attilio.  My friend Ray was visiting from Scottsdale, saw it, and asked about it.  I explained that I had been looking for a Suburban like that with no luck for some time.  He looked at me in a funny way and said that he “saw them all the time” in Arizona.   I didn’t believe him.  He went home, and 10 days later called and found a 1964 GMC with power steering, power brakes, automatic and a 305 V6.  It had one good whack, a few scrapes, a busted windshield and a sun baked homemade paint job – but was all original with no rust, great chrome and was solid as a rock.  The interior was pretty trashed and he said and it ran a little rough.  I liked the terms and sent Ray the money to close the deal.

 

I had fantasies about flying down and driving the Suburban home, but at the last minute got real about doing a few thousand miles with an un-restored car, especially when I had no idea how it had been maintained.  As it turns out Ray’s dad is a retired trucker (and a nice guy like Ray), so he agreed to haul my truck with his flatbed for a very fair price and expenses.  When I went to meet him at the highway exit nearest my house, I was so excited I showed up nearly an hour early.  We rolled the truck down, got it started after a while and I drove it home.  I walked around it for a long time before I went to bed.  You know what it’s like when you get a new car or truck…  When my wife woke up the next day and saw it in the driveway, she looked at it, looked at me, shook her head and muttered: “It looks like a milk truck”.  I knew she’d eventually come around.

 

I cleaned the truck out and started working on the mechanicals right away.   Not knowing the history of the truck, I started replacing worn components with new stock parts wherever I could.  I connected with Attilio, Dave Dupont and later all of the knowledgeable folks on Jolly Goodfellow’s 60-66 GMC discussion group (link below) for both free advice and leads on parts.  I hadn’t yet decided how far I was going to bring the truck back cosmetically.  We were driving it every weekend, and were having fun turning heads.  There aren’t a lot of vintage Suburbans in New England, so we tend to draw a crowd.

 

During the time I was deciding how much to restore the Suburban body, I met Danny McGee – a brilliant restoration guy in Westborough, Massachusetts.  When I went to visit him he was finishing a frame-off on a 1956 Jag, and had 2 early 60’s Corvettes in his shop.  He liked the Suburban and seemed to want to do it, but it took us a while to meet in the middle on price. I had never intended to do a full restoration, but Danny’s skill and our negotiated price changed my mind.

 

During the time Danny was stripping and straightening the body (no plastic), I scored NOS seat fabric, accessories and rubber.   Chris actually ended up enthusiastically selecting the final colors from the original factory paint chips.  When the car rolled out in the spring, Danny, Chris, the kids and I were all thrilled.  He did a spectacular job on the body.  We’ve won a handful of trophies even though the engine compartment hasn’t been detailed yet. 

 

I have been updating the mechanicals over the past couple of years including: modern dual-cylinder power brakes, a 100 amp 1 wire alternator, a Holley 500 CFM carburetor, a rebuild on the turbo 400, 4-way flasher kit, heavy duty sway bar, factory clock and tach and a Custom AutoSound stereo.

 

 

 

This past summer I bought a 1969 GoTagAlong 19 foot travel trailer to tow behind the Suburban.  Jim and I were at the annual Northeast Chevy/GMC truck show and saw the trailer with a for sale sign on it – being towed by a 1954 Suburban.  It was almost a perfect color and was really cool both inside and out.  It didn’t take us long to decide that it was perfect for us.

 

 

 

We used the camper this summer with great success.  There is plenty of room for everyone, and the Suburban handles the load just fine.  The biggest problem is having to give lots of guided tours after we set up camp.  The Suburban and vintage trailer combination draw a lot of attention from our fellow campers.

 

 

The most important thing is that we really use and enjoy our Suburban every chance we get. 

 

 

 

For a full gallery of Suburban pictures 

 

 

 

 

 

Other Car Links:

 

www.6066gmctrucks.org  Jolly Goodfellow’s site.  Jolly has compiled a ton of information about 60-66 GMC trucks, and is the founder and manager of  the 60 –66 GMC discussion group here:  http://groups.yahoo.com/group/6066_GMC_Truck .  If you’ve got an old GMC, you need to be an active member.