Alan Langston is no stranger to modified automobiles. Over the years he's owned a '79 Camaro, a '63 Corvette, a flamed '00 Tahoe, and a '51 Chevy pickup truck. As it turned out, the truck was his favorite: he loved its size, shape, look, and feel. As a matter of fact, he thought he'd have the truck forever; the problem came when his family went from he and his wife to he, his wife, and three small boys. At that point, a truck with room for two became almost obsolete, so he and his old friend had to part company. The difficult part of that process was deciding to do it, because the first guy who looked at it ran his hand along the tailgate and waltzed it out of the garage.
Because he was infatuated with the sensual lines of that full-bodied Chevy truck, it was only natural that he expanded on that lust for the rotund and went in search of an even bigger, rounder, more family-friendly version from the same gene pool, which was easier said than done. After an exhaustive search of the Web and every national ad publication he could get his hands on, Alan finally made contact with a gentleman in Indiana who just happened to have an early Suburban in good condition that needed a new home. When Alan and his family got there, they found not only the Suburban, but 30 or 40 other future projects and an intact Sinclair Gas Station, complete with a green 7-foot dinosaur on the property. Alan was excited, the Suburban was everything it was said to be, money changed hands, and the non-running beast was loaded on the open trailer. As excited as Alan was about the purchase, his wife just wasn't convinced. Fact is, her comment went something like, "You have a very odd sense of cool," along with something about this heap being beastly and ugly. While it wasn't a ringing endorsement, it wasn't an ultimatum, either, so the project was on.
As soon as the beast was home, it was taken to Scully's Customs in Palatine, Illinois, so the buildup could begin. The body was separated from the frame, and after a bit of discussion, the original frame was discarded and a new Fatman Fabrications frame complete with front and rear suspension was substituted. The original frame was in good enough condition to use, but the Fatman frame was stiffer and completely compatible with modern components. What happened next was a natural-a 502 Chevy backed by a Turbo 400 was added along with the rest of the chassis components to make the 'Burb roller, like the Mustang II power rack, a complete Air Ride Technologies Pro E system, and Wilwood brakes at all four corners.
The body, on the other hand, would be handled in the best custom tradition-meaning torch, saw, hammer, weld, and filler. To get things started in a very big way, Dick Scully whacked the long roof 3 inches, leaned the windshield pillar back 15 degrees, and welded it all back together, then moved on to the lighter work. The cowl vents were filled, the door handles were shaved, the hood seam was welded together and smoothed, the running boards were smoothed, the Cadillac taillights were installed, a rear roll pan was hand-formed, and the rear door hinges were concealed. Truth is, the entire rear of the Suburban was designed around a pair of Corsa C5 exhaust tips, which as it turned out were not as easy as one might think to get as a separate item (they're sold as an assembly), but were released to this project by the company's owner when Alan explained his plans. Then the entire sheetmetal surface was blocked until there wasn't a ripple left in any of its massive panels. For color, Alan selected an eye-catching combination of copper and black topped with some really neat copper and gray flames outlined in lime green.
With all the sheetmetal work on the outside, you'd think the guys might take it easy on the inside, but you'd be wrong. Scully smoothed the dash, built a new floor, installed larger rear wheelwells, and constructed a center console. In the end, the dash would house a full set of Auto Meter instruments, while the console would house the climate controls, pushbutton shifter, and power window switches. Then there's the sound system. Alan chose a Sony CD/DVD system with two screens, two 1,200-watt Boston Acoustics amps, and an array of Boston speakers strategically placed throughout the large interior space. With the sheetmetal work finished, all the accessories in their places, and everything wired up and working properly, the five Corbeau leather sport seats with their three-point harnesses were bolted to the floor, and the beastly '49 was hauled over to Dave Schober in Montgomery, Illinois. There, the remainder of the interior was dressed in copper tone leather, buffed vinyl suede, and root beer-colored wool carpet.
On the day of reckoning, two years had passed. All the work had been completed, the money spent, and a ton of hours invested in the project, so it was time to take the 'Burb home for its first family viewing. The unveiling couldn't have gone better. Alan's wife ooh'd and ahh'd as she checked out the Chevy's transformation, and the boys clamored for their first ride. Now that's what any serious car guy would call a truly successful project.
|Facts & Figures|
|1949 Chevy 3100|
|FRAME: ||Fatman Fabrications |
|REAREND / RATIO: || 9" Ford / 3.83:1 |
|REAR SUSPENSION: ||Fatman Fabrications four-link |
|REAR BRAKES: ||Wilwood disc |
|FRONT SUSPENSION: ||Mustang II w/ Air Ride |
|FRONT BRAKES: ||Wilwood discs |
|STEERING BOX: ||Flaming River rack-and-pinion |
|FRONT WHEELS: ||Billet Specialties Legacy/16x8 |
|REAR WHEELS: ||Billet Specialties Legacy/16x9 |
|TIRES: ||BFGoodrich |
|GAS TANK: ||Rock Valley stainless steel / 25 gallon |
|SHOCKS: ||NAPA gas shocks |
|ENGINE: ||502cid GMPP crate motor |
|HEADS: ||stock |
|VALVE COVERS: ||Chevrolet |
|MANIFOLD / INDUCTION: ||GMPP / Holley 770cfm |
|IGNITION: ||MSD |
|HEADERS: || Sanderson 1 7/8" primary w/ 3" collector |
|EXHAUST: || custom 2 1/2" w/Corsa C5 tips |
|TRANSMISSION: || Turbo 400 by TSI Automotive |
|SHIFTER: ||Retro Tek Electronic pushbutton shifter |
|STYLE: ||Suburban |
|MODIFICATIONS: ||chopped 3", cowl vents removed, rear door hinges hidden, flush-mounted third brake light, handles shaved, smoothed running boards |
|FENDERS FRONT / REAR: || stock steel |
|HOOD: || stock, seam welded |
|GRILLE: ||stock |
|BODYWORK AND PAINT BY: ||Scully's Customs, Palatine, IL |
|PAINT TYPE / COLOR: ||PPG / Copperhead & black |
|HEADLIGHTS / TAILLIGHTS: ||Zoop's tri-bar / frenched '93 Caddy |
|BUMPERS: ||Rock Valley SS / custom roll pan rear |
|DASHBOARD: ||stock smoothed |
|GAUGES: ||Auto Meter |
|AIR CONDITIONING: ||Vintage Air w/ Phipp's vents |
|STEREO: ||Sony CD & DVD |
|STEERING WHEEL: ||American Racing Hoopster |
|STEERING COLUMN: ||Flaming River tilt |
|SEATS: ||Corbeau GT sport buckets |
|UPHOLSTERY BY: ||Dave Schober, Montgomery, IL |
|MATERIAL: || leather and buffed suede |
|CARPET: ||root beer wool |