Curbside Classic: 1990 Chevrolet Suburban 2500 Silverado – Swank Yank Tank

I’ll admit my tastes can be fickle, sometimes. I caught a Blazer of this generation last year and did not like it one bit. It was a late ‘70s 2WD sitting a mite too low and dodgy on a number of counts. But this, this gargantuan testament to the longest-lived GM nameplate’s mighty seventh chapter – and a very long chapter it was, too – is just about perfect.

I’m not sure a vehicle like this really belongs in a place like Tokyo. It’s far too big to be of much use and probably too thirsty to be worth the expense. Still, let us be thankful that there are a few folks around here for whom a completely unsuitable classic American SUV is an irresistible proposition. I just hope that right rear view mirror won’t get sheared off someday. It would only take one literal second of carelessness…

But while there’s little room for error out on the streets and parking garages, there is plenty of space inside this cavernous contraption. GM designed these at the height of the Land Yacht era, and it shows. The ‘70s never really went away with Chevrolet: the ’77 Caprice kept the glitter ball rolling until 1990 and the ’73 four-door Suburban (and its two-door Blazer sidekick) stayed on till 1991. To be fair, both were beaten handily by the G-Series van, which entered production in April 1970 and only left it in 1996.

Not that the Suburban didn’t change at all, of course. The SUV periodically underwent facelifts, got new engine options and trim packages, but on the whole, the breed was quite stable for its near two decades on the production line. The very last facelift, with small-ish square quads and a big horizontal chrome strip splitting the plastic black grille, was probably devised to ease the clientele towards the new generation Suburban / Blazer slated for 1992, which would have been already finalized around the time when this final refresh was made.

The Silverado trim is almost as old as the four-door body, having debuted in 1975. Not surprising that it later came to be its own nameplate – it’s a pretty memorable and very American name. The fact that it took 25 years for the Silverado to escape from the Suburban’s grasp is what’s a bit strange.

So what do we get for the extra US$5000 or so that the Silverado package provides, aside from that small plaque? A plush interior with bucket seats, for one thing. I’m pretty sure all the possible types of beige are present here. It’s like a hearing aid rainbow. The extra layer of carpet on top of the dash, which I don’t think is standard issue but looks very well done, is a very nice touch.

But it’s this vehicle’s apparent honesty that rings particularly strongly with me. I’m really not knowledgeable about these rigs, but as far as I could tell from a spell of web browsing, what we have here is a clean and original 1989-90 Suburban 2500 Silverado in Mojave Beige / Sunset Gold Metallic deluxe two-tone finish and four wheel drive. No idea what engine it has, but choices that year would have been the 350 (5.7 litre) and 454 (7.4 litre) petrol or the 379 (6.2 litre) Diesel – all V8s of course.

The wheels seem aftermarket, but are not outrageously weird and the ride height looks normal. That’s rare enough to be noteworthy. A lot of these are jacked up sky-high, shod with massive tyres and made to look like floatplane fuselages minus the wings. Others (though a smaller cohort, it seems) have been slammed down to futility, furrowing the road with their running boards. Not this one, thankfully.

Its hood ornament stands proud, ready to impale distracted passersby right in the neck with grace and aplomb. That’s a bowtie’s destiny, after all. Rolls-Royces and Daimlers may be the ultimate peasant-crushers, but in Silverado country, just like in Soviet Russia, the peasants crush you! And it so happens I’ve developed a bit of a crush on this Yank tank. Choosing between this and a Grand Wagoneer, the Jeep would probably still win, but only just. Chiefly because of styling and that the experience of owning a Suburban, if the COALs below are anything to go by, can be a challenge. Which team are you on?


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Neighborhood Outtake: Chevy Suburban – Have These Finally Become Collectable?, by PN

COAL: 1990 GMC Suburban – Out of the Frying Pan, Into the Fires of Automotive Hell, by Jerseyfred

Curbside Classic: 1982 Chevrolet Suburban – Four Doors For The Win; Or Even Six, by PN

COAL: 1979 Chevrolet Suburban – It Just Keeps On Grinding On, by Junkharverster

COAL: 1982 Chevy Suburban – Or What’s The Worst Vehicle You’ve Ever Owned?, by Junkharverster

COAL: 1975 Chevrolet Suburban – Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid, by Importamation