Orange Crush: '67 Suburban 4x4
Edgar Hernandez has honed his craft in the world of traditionally styled customs, classics and hot rods as the owner of Starlite Rod & Kustom. With a stable of classic and custom cars to cruise at his fingertips, only one type of ride was missing: a timeless road trip vehicle with enough room for the family and the capability to go anywhere on or off-road.
When the family goes on a road trips, Edgar’s wife, mother-in-law and three kids all come along. That means that the only way to have plenty room is to drive either a minivan or large SUV, like a Suburban. Of course, for Edgar, it had to be something classic and with some style, and since his son Frank was into off-roading, the road trip rig had to check that box, as well. Enter his 1967 GMC Suburban 4x4, the ultimate family truckster turned off-road adventurer.
The old small block Chevrolet 5.7L engine wouldn’t cut it for the plans Edgar had for the Suburban. Something more powerful and, above anything else, more reliable, was needed. To solve the powerplant problem, a pull-out 6.0L LS-based engine from a Cadillac Escalade was dropped in and wired up using a PSI harness. To add even more power, a Comp Cams Stage-3 camshaft and pair of stainless-steel headers were installed, bringing its numbers up to 345hp and 380 lb-ft torque. To back up the modern horsepower, a 4L80E transmission was rebuilt by Gilberto’s Transmissions with a commercial clutch, B&M trans cooler and Derale transmission pan with a TS Cases NP20S transfer case.
The chassis was stiffened and strengthened by boxing it in with 3/16-inch plate and welding in a trio of 3-inch tubular crossmembers, plus all of the factory welds were strengthened, too. B52 hangers hold 52-inch Atlas Spring leaf springs up front with a set of remote reservoir Bilstein shocks providing 10 inches of travel. A similar setup with 14 inches of travel was used in the rear, attached to the rebuilt 14-bolt GMC rearend outfitted with an Eaton Tru Trac with 4.56:1 gears. A pair of helper airbags were installed for a smoother ride and towing both his family camper and show car trailer.
Classic Off-Road Styling
Edgar wanted to give the Suburban that classic ‘70s off-road look but with the modern technology and performance available today. A set of classic-styled Mickey Thompson Off Road aluminum wheels were attached to the Dana 44 front axle with Warn hubs and disc brakes, but 20x10s as opposed to the old school 15s. Naturally, a set of modern tires designed for on and off-road performance were needed. He opted for a set of Nitto Ridge Grappler 35x12.50R20 tires on the classic GMC for a quiet family ride on road trips with plenty of grip in the dirt. Carrying a full-sized spare, just in case, is a custom-fabricated rear bumper, tire carrier and tow hitch receiver.
Everything under the Vintage Flatz Orange paint on the body has been modernized and beefed up. The same ethos was carried over to the off-road accessories, and still with an old school flair. The classic chrome bumper was cut and outfitted with a push bar and removable Warn winch. A Conferr roof rack with the tools needed to get the heavy SUV out of the sand or Asuza mud was installed behind a light bar that screams 1982, with modern tech, of course. KC HiLites Daylighter 6-inch LED lights with old school yellow smile covers compliment the matching orange 76 antenna ball and complete the look of this classic off-road rig.
Of course, being the ultimate off-road version of a custom car builder’s family ride, Edgar opted to swap in seats from a Honda Odyssey minivan to complete the road trip feel with comfort. Naturally, Edgar had to throw in some of his signature Kustom style in with a Mooneyes steering wheel. An Alpine Electronics head unit keeps everyone entertained with sing-a-longs. To ensure that the healthy 6.0L engine would last on long trips, a custom 46-gallon fuel cell was added with Dakota Digital VHX gauges to keep an eye on the engine’s status.
As the Suburban was being finished up, a timeline was set for its maiden voyage to the Grand Canyon (and hopefully back)! The shakedown run to the Grand Canyon was a true test, and a few things were fixed when Edgar got it back home to Starlite. Since then the family have trekked it to all of the local off-road spots, as well as down to Rosarito in Mexico, and now it pulls double duty as tow vehicle and camper hauler with off-road muscle and old school style.
|Vehicle||1967 GMC Suburban 4x4|
|Owner/Builder||Edgar Hernandez/Starlite Rod & Kustom|
|Engine/Transmission||2005 6.0L Cadillac Escalade LS, Comp Cams Stage-3 camshaft, stainless steel headers, 46-gallon fuel cell, 4L80E transmission, B&M cooler, Commercial clutch, Mattson radiator|
|Front Suspension||Dana 44, NP20S transfer case, Warn hubs, 52-inch Atlas Spring leaf springs, Bilstein remote reservoir shocks, Off Road Designs cross steer, disc brakes|
|Rear Suspension||2007 GMC 14-bolt rearend built by J&S Gear, Atlas Spring leaf springs, Bilstein remote reservoir shocks, Eaton Tru Trac, 4.56:1 gears|
|Chassis||3/16-inch plated frame, 3-inch crossmembers|
|Wheels||20x10-inch Mickey Thompson aluminum wheels|
|Tires||35x12.50R20 Nitto Ridge Grappler M/T|
|Lights||HID driving lights, KC HiLites Daylighter 651, 653 & 91035 LED lights, Carr light rack|
|Interior||2005 Honda Odyssey seats, Mooneyes steering wheel, Dakota Digital VHX gauges|
|Body||Vintage Flatz Orange, fender flares|
|Accessories||Warn winch, Conferr roof rack, AMP power steps, custom built spare tire carrier/tow hitch & bumper, vintage push bar, PSI wiring harness, Kinetik battery|