CC Outtake: GMC “Advance Design” Carryall Suburban – The Unsolved Mystery of Its Third Door

I try not to indulge my tendency of negative feelings about “resto-mods”; they may not be my preferred cup of tea, but to each their own. But it does help explain why I’m at a loss to explain something very unusual about this GMC Suburban from the ’50 – ’53 “Advance Design” era: it has a third door on this side. And I can’t figure out if that was a recent modification or whether it came that way, from a coach works or such. If the truck had been more original, I would have felt warmer to it, and introduced myself to the owner sitting behind the wheel. Instead, I let those horrible wheels turn me off, and I just peeled off a couple of quick shots. And now I have a mystery on my hands that I can’t solve.

Here’s a crop of my other shot. I’m really stumped. It would have taken a lot of work to create this now; look at the complex parts, and how they all fit together. It’s looking more like something done back then, by a proper coachworks. And there’s another issue:

They didn’t just convert that middle window into a door; note how the middle window in the production version extends further back, well beyond the leading edge of the rear fender. The one I found has a shorter middle window, and a correspondingly longer rear-most side window. That’s some serious bodywork. But then there’s no door handle on this black oddball. Weird.

I almost convinced myself it was a recent modification when I stumbled into this Chevy version. It’s a resto-mod too, and has gotten two suicide rear doors as part of the makeover. Aha!

But then I realized that new door was created around the existing windows. Still a lot of work, but much more obvious and logical than the one I found.

Who would go to the trouble of lengthening the rear-most window, and moving its front pillar just so that a shorter door could be created? I’m really stumped with this one. Oh, and one more thing, when he drove off, it was clear that the other side was “normal”, without a door. What I didn’t look for was whether the window spacing was normal, which it almost undoubtedly was.

My guess is that a coach works offered this conversion for some special purpose back in the day, but if so, where’s the door handle?

One thing is for certain; if I run into it again, I’m going to ask, or take a much closer look. It just goes to show that resto-mods deserve a closer look too, especially if they’re sporting some very unusual body mods.