There are far more similarities than differences for the nine-year model run. Parts interchangeability is great. It doesn't matter if you put a '53 grille on a '54 cab because we're talking about street rods. The long model run and ease of parts swapping mean that there is still lots of raw material available.
A Strong FoundationRB's new Serious Hardware rolling chassis is the most exciting product to come out of this buildup. As plentiful as this series of trucks is, the condition of the chassis is often less than great. With a brand-new chassis all the grunt work associated with a rusty, cracked, and twisted original frame is bypassed. The new Serious Hardware chassis was designed from the ground up to handle modern engines and suspension components.
There's no need to worry about squeezing modern wheels and tires on an old frame. The new Serious Hardware chassis is narrower than stock to accommodate big wheels and tires like the 20x10- and 18x8.5-inch Billet Specialties SLX 01 units and Nitto Extreme ZR Ultra high-performance tires that are going on the panel. Even tough the chassis is narrower than stock, all the cab, body, and bed mounts are correctly positioned. Tubular upper and lower control arms, a TRW power rack, and front antisway bar all contribute to modern handling capabilities.
The chassis accepts either small- or big-block Chevy engines and all the corresponding GM transmissions. Since the chassis was designed as a street rod platform, things like mounting the integrated brake pedal assembly and 9-inch booster dual master cylinder on the outside of the framerails were done to provide easier exhaust routing.
Out back, the Serious Hardware chassis uses a Ford 9-inch rearend and parallel leaf springs. The chassis can be equipped with four-wheel disc brakes for modern stopping power to match the high-tech wheels and tires.
Alternative Truck StylesWork done on the Urban Suburban is representative of what can be done to these trucks. We can't list all the possible variations, but we will discuss a few easier, less expensive alternatives.
Your body style depends on what you like and what you can find. The greater your flexibility, the better your chances are of finding a good deal and a solid starting point. Most people are likely to build a pickup due to their greater availability. The larger number of pickups generally means their prices are lower than those for panels and Suburbans. Given all the current interest in SUVs, prices for early Suburbans have been on an upward swing.
If you have or can find a decent panel or Suburban, a lower-looking profile can be achieved with paint instead of by chopping the top like on the Urban Suburban. A two-tone scheme with black (or another very dark color) above the beltline will make the top look lower. It doesn't even have to be finished paint. Dark primer over lighter primer will work. On a Suburban dark-tinted side windows will contribute to the illusion.
Special glass was needed for the new side windows in the Urban Suburban, but a similar look (at least from a distance) could be achieved by painting Nomad-style "windows" on the side of a panel body. A talented airbrush artist could even paint "chrome" trim around the windows.
Depending on the market in your area, single rear window trucks may be less expensive than the deluxe cabs with their unique, curved quarter-windows. These cabs are commonly referred to as three-window and five-window cabs, respectively. Many builders prefer the three-window cabs, so don't worry about making an unpopular choice.