I realize it may seem that I spend an inordinate amount of time in the parking lots outside of junkyards, however that’s not really the case. Sometimes the best finds at any show are in the lot though…and today was such a day as I caught this wonderful three-door Suburban just as it was being hauled in. While the driver was getting the gate opened I made a quick walkaround, sometime within the next few weeks it’ll be processed by St. Peter and his buddies in the prep shed and then eventually join the general population in the yard but may well be picked over by the time I get back to it.
At first glance I thought it was an IH Travelall, but then noticed it looked a little off, at which time I realized this is the first three-door Chevy Suburban (also known as Carryall back then) that I can recall seeing in the metal. You guys all grew up with these but I didn’t, by the time we moved to LA in the early 1980’s these just weren’t around down there, or at least I wasn’t looking for them. Produced from 1967 through 1972, I’m kind of guessing/hoping that this is in fact a ’72 as everything seems to match up with the brochure I found for that year.
The big news for this generation of course was the three doors, one on the driver’s side and two more on the passenger side, not until the next generation would there be two on each side. But even bigger news (and what really got the format going) was that the Suburban was finally on the longbed pickup platform, giving much more room in the back.
It would take another half-decade for GM to realize that a fourth door is a no-brainer, intro’d for the 1973 next generation, and another two decades to figure out that a Suburban back on the shorter platform but with more than two doors might also be fairly desirable, and thus eventually the four-door Tahoe was born, to great commercial success.
Of all the different configurations, this is the lightest chassis, being the C-10. The five-lug wheels give away the facts that it’s neither four wheel drive (6-lug) nor the 3/4 ton version (8-lug). This one is also the Deluxe version though, so someone got a pretty fancy rig with lots of niceties while still keeping it civilized and more comfortable to (daily) drive.
The barn doors were an option, alternately the other configuration was the standard tailgate with upper glass as with this one. The brochure above shows the more basic trims and discusses the advantages of the Suburban in regard to towing.
Engine-wise the Suburban was available with everything from a 250 Six to the 307 V8 along with of course the 350 V8 and then progressing up to the 400 V8. Transmissions were a 3-speed manual, 4-speed manual, or the 3-speed Turbo Hydra-matic.
The tag on the front fender gives away that this one is powered by the 350 V8, producing 175hp@4,000rpm and 290lb-ft of torque @2,400rpm. I didn’t try to climb on the truck to see what the transmission was but I’d guess it had the automatic, being a relatively refined RWD upper trim level truck.
The blue truck in the brochure looks to be the same trim level as ours, with the white roof, trim just below the windows and side molding along with the chrome bumpers. No engine callout on the brochure truck though although it has the tow mirrors whereas ours has the “below eye-line mirrors”, apparently an option if I am understanding things correctly.
No badges on the rear, and I can’t tell what’s inside beside seeing what appears to be a dipstick through the rear window, so perhaps there is an engine being carried in the rear for whatever reason. Maybe this was a good day to clear out everything sitting in the barn, who knows.
To continue our license plate discussion from the Citation post the other day, this one’s prefix is RU, which indicates it came from Jefferson County (Golden, CO is in Jeffco for example, just on the northwest side of Denver proper) and is only a few miles from this particular location so the Suburban is a lifelong local.
It’s a shame to see the truck here although there does seem to be significant rust around the bottom at least, still, the heyday of these types and era of rigs is really right about now. Someone fitted wider tires and different hubcaps from stock, and the patina (besides the body damage up front), is wonderful.
The Custom Deluxe was fairly swanky inside, with cloth seats, and there was even a dual A/C system available. Seating numbered enough for nine and while the marketing firm made sure there weren’t more than nine individuals pictured next to it in this picture, I’m sure people crammed at least a dozen or more kids into these. Safety third, kids! The available tilt steering wheel had a total of seven positions to choose from, isn’t that more than usual for a GM? I seem to recall both of my Buicks only having five positions, but could be shortchanging the General here.
I’m quite sure the color of this one is Grapefruit Yellow and wish I knew the inside color. Grapefruit seems like a great color for an older truck and the sheer number of color options is magnificent.
I think the black and white are the only two colors from above seen on the 2021 Suburban (edit: I checked and there is a red and a blue as well). Still, what variety! I’d have trouble choosing, they ALL look quite good. But it wouldn’t be black or white, that’s for sure. White roofs are making a bit of a comeback and some bright metallic colors are as well, at least on smaller crossovers, so perhaps there is hope yet.
Back in the early ’70’s, this would have been a great truck for heading up into the High Rockies for the weekend but also civilized enough to make the trip to the office in Denver, to say nothing of cross-country voyages with the whole family aboard.
Who knows if that’s how it was actually used or not, but the Suburban has long been a truck used exactly for those very different types of excursions and been able to do all of them very competently. It looks like this one has lived the last almost fifty years to the fullest, a shame that it’s time to punch the ticket, but I’ll bet it’s seen a lot in its life. See ya on the other side, big fella!