Every time I see a $60,000 Suburban hauling kids (which is about twenty times a day), I think of the Suburban of my youth.
We had a 1975 Suburban we bought new. My sister wasn’t born quite yet, and I was only 5. But I remember going to the dealer’s back lot and finding it with my dad, like it was yesterday.
They got a call that it had arrived, so we went to find it. It had been special ordered, and even as a small kid I recall thinking it was kinda oddly equipped. Three on the tree, AM radio, plaid vinyl bench seats (blue, though, not the green in the catalog), rubber floor instead of carpet, BUT power locks, front and rear A/C, and metallic charcoal silver paint.
I didn’t know anything about the engine; Dad recalls it was a 350 4 barrel. I DO recall the “way back” cargo area being dark blue painted metal, no carpet or other frippery anywhere! There was not a third row seat, so the cargo area seemed to go on forever to a five year old. It did have the “Rally wheels” shown here in a later catalog, but no whitewalls.
One of the most indelible memories of my youth involve the Suburban. My dad had to take a business trip to New Mexico. What better way to go, than to drive from the East Coast to New Mexico with a one year old, a six year old, and the dog? Yep, that’s what they did in November, 1976.
Here we all are about that time, me, Freddie the dog, and my sister. My parents put that crib in the back of the Suburban. We had the back seat folded down, and Freddie had a big dog crate. I had my dad’s heavy Army sleeping bag rolled out, not so much for sleeping but as my play mat. Seat belts? Who needs ’em! The Suburban just had lap belts anyway, even in the front seat.
We stopped at Carlsbad Caverns, which was a lot of fun. I keep thinking I’m going to make it back there, but it hasn’t happened yet.
And it snowed! Needless to say, we didn’t pack expecting to see snow in New Mexico. So we spent a lot of time in the motel room. Those sure are some groovy drapes.
My sister and I both got sick on this trip, a terrible stomach bug. The plaid vinyl seats and rubber floor really were a lifesaver. Just barf anywhere, kids, it’ll hose right out. Try that in your new Escalade!
Yes, it was a simpler time for sure. I was just glad to be back home, mowing the yard at age 6 or so. No safety shut off handle for the mower, of course. With no seat belts, air bags, or ABS anywhere around you, the mower was the least of the threats to your safety.
Heck, I still remember the TAG on this Suburban: JDV-292. How’s that for leaving an impression on a young mind?
I’m a little uncertain about how long we had the Suburban, but I think it was 1983 or so. We had a Volare wagon alongside it until the new 1979 240D. Then, it was the Suburban and the 240D for a while. We sold it to some neighbors who had four kids, the youngest being my age. His older brother drove it to high school, and then my friend drove it all through high school. By the time we graduated in 1988, it was pretty beat up.
The dealership where we bought it was bulldozed years ago, and moved out to the suburbs where they are still in business. They were an old-time downtown dealership, on three corners of an intersection: this showroom and new cars on one corner, used cars on another corner, and trucks on the third corner. Sears was on the fourth corner. Sears was bulldozed for an office building when I was in high school, which has since been bulldozed for midrise condos. Geez, this is making me feel old.
A new basic Suburban like the ’75 would be kinda fun, but no such luck. The cheapest 2018 Suburban is over $51,000 and has carpet and cloth seats. Though you can still get a front bench! They’ll even credit you back $250.00 for rejecting the front buckets.