Malibu Lake, California's "Movie Mike" Geller makes his living buying, selling, and renting special-interest vehicles to movie studios. However, Geller is also a collector of sorts. Over the years he has owned a ton of really trick hot rods, including a variety of 1930s Fords, a '55 Chevrolet Stepside pickup, a few '58-61 Impalas, and even a '38 Lincoln Zephyr-Airstream camper- trailer combination. Now here's Movie Mike's latest, a '50 Chevy 3100-series Suburban.
"I found this thing on eBay. It had been sitting in a barn up in Oregon for 25 years," says Geller. "It was pretty cherry, so all I basically had to do was take it apart and perform what you would call your basic cosmetic and mechanical restoration!"
Starting with the chassis, Geller disassembled the 3.54:1 GM half-ton live rear axle and powdercoated the housing and the newly de-arched elliptic rear springs semi-gloss black at North Hollywood's Pyramid Powder Coating prior to reassembly. The same thing went for the factory I-beam front axle and leaf springs, as well as the chassis itself. In the process, Mike had all the nuts, bolts, and fasteners clear zinc oxide-plated by Van Nuys Plating, and the Chevy's steering box was also rebuilt back to stock. All-new brake components were used during the lengthy yearlong reassembly. However, rather than use the 16-inch original equipment GM steel wheels, Geller opted for a set of '38 Chevrolet artilleries rolling on a set of Coker Tire reproduction Firestone 7.00-16 "gangster whitewall" bias-plys.
Powering this beauty is a Coast Motors (Canoga, Park, California) assembled and machined 235ci Chevrolet straight-six. Internally, Geller's six-banger is 100-percent stock. However, on the outside the engine features a polished finned-aluminum Offenhauser rocker cover and a Jet Hot-coated factory exhaust manifold dumping the spent gases into a Morse Muffler (Burbank, California) custom exhaust system. Backing up Geller's inliner is a Dick Schumacher-assembled, floorshift-activated four-speed transmission.
When it came to preparing the body, Greg at North Hollywood, California's Quality Body Works smoothed out the 56-year-old GM sheetmetal prior to repainting the Suburban a special Glasurit mix Geller humorously calls "Border Patrol Green." Body reassembly also included all-new rubber and a combination of N.O.S. and reproduction body trim parts, as well as all-new window glass provided by Jim Carter Truck Parts.
You'll also note Mike's Suburban features many period-correct bolt-on accessories, like a set of Southern California Auto Club license plate frames, a pair of restored '51 vintage black and gold California license plates, a Mobil Gas "Pegasus" flying red horse, and, of course, Mike's "Ride 'Em Cowboy" placard.
Inside, you'll find the handiwork of North Hollywood Trim's Pedro. The two rear bench seats, forward-folding two-piece combination front seat, as well as the door panels and headliner were upholstered in a brown Spanish grain, while the rugs are brown cut pile. Another neat item found inside the truck is a genuine Chevrolet script heater.
"This was a fun restoration," says Geller, "and unlike some of the street rods and customs I've built in the past, this is something the entire family can enjoy!"