Suburban Legend: This '50 Chevy SUV is the Ultimate Summertime Family Cruiser
Deciding on which type of custom truck to build can be just as stressful as shopping for a brand new one. You’ve got to ask yourself all the tough questions and come up with honest answers to make sure that truck is the right one for you. Sure, that’s a good deal of pressure to take on, but if the juice is truly worth the squeeze, there will be much more excitement going into the experience than doubt.
Fun for the Whole Family
Clay Herron, of Liberty, South Carolina, was faced with this very predicament of selecting a truck to build to replace his old one. The C10 he had was cool and all, but it just didn’t serve him or his family as well as it could have. To be fair, it wasn’t the truck’s fault. Clay and his tribe simply outgrew it. “As a family of four, we needed a fun ride that we could all enjoy and travel to car shows together in”, he says. “My previous truck led to many ‘my turn to ride with daddy’ discussions. The time came for us to finally change things up.”
A friend of Clay’s was in the process of hunting down an old Suburban for himself, and someone had sent him a photo of one that caught Clay’s attention. It wasn’t the Suburban in the forefront of the photo that called out to him; however, it was one hidden in the background. “I wanted something much larger for our family and this truck was perfect,” Clay shared. “A Suburban would be able to seat all four of us comfortably, and there would never be an issue of having to leave anyone behind or ride in separate vehicles.”
Getting the Ball Rolling
Clay was able to get his hands on the 1950 Suburban he spied in that photo, and once he brought it home, he got together with his design team (wife and kids) and a plan of action was put into place. Clay is no slouch when it comes to working with his hands either. His older brother evolved into a pretty solid wrench over the years and helped him work on his projects like this one. Clay now operates under the Twins Speed Shop moniker, so he was able to make good progress on the truck after his hard-working youngsters clock out for the day.
An executive decision was made to retire the Suburban’s 70+ year-old chassis and replace it with a much more agile custom frame from No Limit Engineering. The new chassis features steel 2x8 main rails, a 115-inch wheelbase, a front air ride IFS system, and a 4-link rear. While this upgrade wasn’t the most cost-effective option, the No Limit chassis really does over deliver with a sturdy and capable foundation that will ensure a smooth glide to anywhere the Herron clan sets their sights on going.
Rolling in Style
To finish off the premium chassis system just right, Clay began looking at new wheels that would add a modern twist on the Suburban’s classic styling. 18x8 and 18x10 Detroit Steel D-Town wheels stood to be the ideal addition to the truck’s growing lineup of highlights. Completing the look is a set of 245/45ZR18 and 275/40ZR18 Nitto NT555 G2 tires that were customized white walls. Not only does this combo look stunning, but the tires help keep traction in dry conditions with large tread blocks and efficiently dissipate any water with circumferential grooves.
With the old chassis tossed aside, there was no reason to stick with the old motor either. To replace it, Clay ordered a brand-new GM LS3 crate engine and a fresh GM 6L80 six-speed auto transmission to match. A Holley mid mount water pump, alternator, and intake manifold were thrown into the shopping cart, as was a 16-inch e-fan, aluminum radiator from Superior, SBC valve covers, and an old school Cadillac air cleaner to help the engine fit in to the Suburban’s style. Speed Engineering headers, an aluminized 3-inch exhaust system and a Magnaflow mufflers were then assembled to give the LS3 optimum breathing abilities.
Once the suspension and new engine were in place, Clay finished up what he could with the Suburban’s bodywork before sending it on over to Jason Mode at New Creations and Derrick Dillishaw to see the rest though. Aside from straightening out the original GMC sheet metal, the guys also custom fabricated a one-off roll pan while wrapping up the final prep necessary before paint. The color the guys chose was Midnight Blue from Hot Rod Flatz, which goes well with the curvy ‘burban silhouette. Custom Twins Speed Shop lettering was added to the barn doors, and strategically placed pinstriping has been peppered throughout the exterior landscape for good measure.
Jason and his crew weren’t finished with Clay’s Suburban just yet. The guys had big plans for the interior, and first started with wrapping the entire dash and panels in camel colored vinyl. Doubling down on the color, the Chevy Cavalier seats were also reupholstered in the same material along with similar color German square weave and plaid fabric. Dakota Digital VHX gauges, a Forever Sharp steering wheel, and a complete audio system comprised of a Pioneer AVH-210 receiver and a full load of MB Quart speakers and a 10-inch sub were all added to the equation. To ensure that upcoming summer road trips will be as enjoyable as possible, a Vintage Air A/C system was put into place to keep the whole gang cool.
Time to Cruise
In just about two years of solid progress, Clay’s family cruiser is now complete. “Many talented friends and family have helped out at various points during the build”, he says proudly. “I do have to give a special thank you to Jason Mode of New Creations and Hawks Motorsports for the extra push. This was a project that changed and evolved into what it is today, which really put a strain on our proposed budget, but with some creative financial footwork, we were able to see it through.”