You probably thought we'd never show you the finished version of the Urban Suburban. We followed the progress of this tricked-out truck for five consecutive months in 2003, followed by eight months of silence. It's called "building up suspense."
The idea started with Ray Doe, president of RB's Obsolete. How could he turn a workhorse '47-55 Chevy truck into a progressive-looking street rod? Doe started with a '47 Chevy panel truck and a concept drawing. The truck was a rustless California vehicle that could have been turned into a cool resto rod, but the drawing called for something more radical.
The Urban Suburban is the first vehicle to feature RB's Serious Hardware rolling chassis for '47-55 Chevy/GMC 1/2-ton pickups, panels, and Suburbans and served as a test bed for the product. The chassis is narrower than factory to accommodate stouter rolling stock than was popular 50 years ago and features tubular upper and lower control arms, front antisway bar, and TRW power rack. It rides on front coil springs with parallel leafs in back. The rails were designed to use a Rock Valley stainless steel gas tank.
The Serious Hardware chassis makes the Urban Suburban tough, but Ray wanted it good-looking too. Illustrator Chris Ito had put Ray's idea on paper. It was metalman Alan Swedberg's job to apply it to sheetmetal. As he chopped the top (3 inches in the rear and 2 in the front), he created forward-slanting B-pillars and C-pillars in the style of a Chevy Nomad. Tinted Suburban-style one-piece side windows were created by Mike Cox at The Glass House in San Dimas, California. The doors were shaved and converted to hardtop style to successfully complete the look. The wide factory running board was replaced by a smooth custom piece from Gateway Rod & Custom in Collinsville, Illinois. With the top severely customized, the rear barn doors had to be replaced with a more up-to-date liftgate, modified from a late-'90s GM S-series SUV (Sonoma, Blazer, or Olds Bravada). Swedberg worked the beltline molding into the liftgate design to make the whole thing look like a factory-built piece. A third brakelight was installed above the rear window and a pair of C5 Corvette taillights were added below.
Any wrinkles in the body panels were smoothed out at Kimbridge Enterprises in Clearview, Washington. Extreme metalwork calls for extreme paint, so Chris Odom at Extreme Metal and Paint in Anacortes, Washington, was the obvious choice for performing final body prep and shooting the paint. House of Kolor white basecoat was applied over pale green primer before Odom shot the HOK Shimrin Tangelo Pearl. After Mike Lavallee taped off the rip graphics, the top of the truck was shot with Shimrin Majik Blue Pearl. What d'ya think?
The '47-55 Chevy/GMC 1/2-tons have been popular with truck-building rodders for a while. RB's chassis and the success of the Urban Suburban ought to keep interest up for a whole lot longer.
It's the Urban Suburban back...
It's the Urban Suburban back when it was a plain old panel truck.
The Urban Suburban is powered...
The Urban Suburban is powered by some serious motor. This Beck Racing Engines Max Velocity Plus 496ci Chevy big-block makes 564 hp and 563 lb-ft of torque--that's on 92-octane gas through a Barry Grant/Demon carb and Edelbrock Performer RPM intake. The B&M TH400 transmission is connected to a 3.0:1 Ford 9-inch by a 3 1/2-inch aluminum driveshaft from Inland Empire Driveline.
Billet Specialties SLX 01...
Billet Specialties SLX 01 20x10 and 18x8.5 rims and Nitto NT-555 Extreme ZR high-performance radials (275/30ZR20 and 235/40ZR18) are optional equipment on the Serious Hardware chassis package. Brakes are Stainless Steel Brakes Corporation's Force 10 Extreme four-piston calipers with Turbo slotted rotors, 13-inchers in front and 14-inchers in back.
The interior is Jim Carr's...
The interior is Jim Carr's handiwork. Front buckets and a rear split bench from Wise Guys Seating & Accessories are covered in blue leather. The custom console houses a Sony sound system and hidden speakers. Door handles and armrests are from Smart Parts, a Billet Specialties GTX 01 steering wheel is mounted on a Flaming River tilt column, and the shifter and pedals are Lokar items. Hot Rod Air provided A/C; the speedo, tach, and four-in-one cluster with custom faces and RB's logo are from Classic Instruments. Cool, huh?