Seeing a Suburban like Donnie and Darla Snipes' tooling down the road must make GM engineers go misty-eyed. Sure the idea and name dates back to 1936, but it was the mid-Johnson-administration corporate GM gearheads that not only refined the presentation, but cast the blueprint that designers from all marques would pirate some four decades later. And that's got to make them just a little proud.
But we'd bet the Snipes get much the same feeling as they're tooling their Suburban down the road. As they put it, they "found the 'Burb in 1998 at Charlotte Auto Fair, paid $1,700 for it, and drove it home."
But this wasn't just any old truck. As it was, Kyle Bond, of Gibbons Fiberglass Reproductions fame, originally owned the truck. And while this might lend some historical credibility to some, it might have cost the Snipes a little; it seems the ol' gal was a beast of burden to the tune of Nebraska-to-South Carolina hauls with 30-foot trailers in tow.
But that didn't slow the process. Donnie set into the truck with an Early Classics 2 1 / 2- and 4-inch drop on the stock running gear. With a disc setup and heavy anti-sway bar up front and a rugged corporate axle bringing up the rear, the chassis needed little more than a set of 18-inch Drive hoops with Falken rubbers.
For running gear, Donnie tackled the 396 with a set of Keith Black slugs, a Comp stick and lifters, and an Edelbrock Performer combo up top. To back the big-block brute, he had Great Falls' Joe Plyer whip up a TH 400 gearbox with stacked clutch packs.
The body, though, got the lion's share of goodness. Mark King at Top Notch Design trimmed long wheelbase bedsides to replace the lacey quarter panels. He also shaved the rooflines and all exterior trim and molding. For a creative flair, though, Mark filled the taillights and dropped a set of '61 Impala taillights in their place.
Once he sorted the tinwork, Mark shot the big 'Burb with DuPont Centauri Omaha Orange. For the finishing touches, Donnie trimmed the cabin in a gray, black, and orange combo and Tom Polston laid down some tasteful red and blue stripes to break things up a bit.
But all that finish work doesn't mean the Snipes' Suburban doesn't see the open road anymore. Quite the contrary, really, since they hit the road they've to rack up a few Best of Shows, several Best of Classes, and winner status at 2001's Truxpo at Darlington Speedway. Oh yeah, there's a CLASSIC TRUCKS Editor's Choice in there too. While there might be some trophies to haul, though, "I told the 'Burb she'd never have to pull another trailer," Donnie said. We think that's fair.
|F A C T S & F I G U R E S |
|DONNIE &DARLA SNIPES |
|Lancaster, South Carolina |
|1971 Chevrolet Suburban |
|Manufacturer ||General Motors |
|Rearend / Ratio ||'71 GM / 3.73:1 |
|Rear suspension ||Early Classics 4" drop |
|Rear brakes ||drum |
|Front suspension ||Early Classics 2 1/2" dropped |
| ||spindles, GM large-bar |
| ||anti-sway bar |
|Front brakes ||GM disc |
|Master cylinder ||Classic Performance Products |
|Steering ||GM power |
|Steering column ||stock |
|Front wheel make, size ||Drive, 18x8 |
|Rear wheel make, size ||Drive, 18x8 |
|Front tire make, size ||Falken, 265/60HR-18 |
|Rear tire make, size ||Falken, 265/60HR-18 |
|Gas tank ||stock |
|Year and make ||'71 Chevrolet |
|Builder ||Donnie Snipes |
|Displacement ||402 ci |
|Pistons ||Keith Black |
|Camshaft ||Comp Cams |
|Valve covers ||Cal Custom |
|Manifold / Induction ||Edelbrock Performer / Edelbrock |
| ||750 cfm, Mooneyes filter |
| ||housing, K&N filter element |
|Ignition / Wires ||Accel HEI / Accel |
|Headers ||Patriot, Jet Hot-coated |
|Exhaust / mufflers ||2 1/2" / Flowmaster |
|Year and make ||'71 GM TH400 |
|Shifter ||column |
|Trans mods ||stacked clutches |
|Builder ||Joe Plyer, Great Falls, SC |
|Body style / Material ||Suburban / steel |
|Body mods ||quarter panels replaced with |
| ||long wheelbase bedsides, '61 |
| ||Impala taillights, roof, trim, |
| ||and emblems shaved |
|Bodywork ||Mark King, Top Notch Design, |
| ||Lancaster, SC |
|Painter ||Mark King |
|Paint type / Color ||Dupont Centauri acrylic enamel |
| ||/ Omaha Orange |
|Graphics ||Tom E. Polston, Lancaster, SC |
|Headlights / Taillights ||stock / '61 Impala |
|Dashboard ||GM tachometer dash |
|Stereo / Speakers ||JVC AM/FM/Cassette, |
| ||Rockford-Fosgate 200watt |
| ||amplifier, four JVC coaxial |
| ||speakers |
|Air conditioning ||none |
|Wiring ||owner |
|Seats ||stock |
|Steering wheel ||'89 Chevrolet Cavalier |