The ‘Burb: A Classic Chevy SUV With A Ford 6.0L Power Stroke Under The Hood
It’s not the engine you would expect to find in a fourth-generation Chevy Suburban, but a 6.0L Ford Power Stroke diesel makes perfect sense when you work on them every day. Such is the case for Jeremy Flanders of TMS Diesel in Weare, New Hampshire. “We repair a lot of them,” he tells us. “And the 6.0L fits in the ‘Burb pretty nice, actually.” But contrary to how it may appear, Jeremy’s creation is actually a body swap (not engine), with the vintage sheet metal sitting atop a Ford E-250 cargo van frame, suspension and axles.
Joining forces with friend and fellow diesel-head, Chris Battey, Jeremy set about mounting the 65-year-old Suburban shell on a modern, heavy-duty chassis. To effectively trap the vintage Chevrolet in time, its Patina was clear coated. The 6.0L V8, infamous for its reliability problems, has been “bulletproofed,” fitted with a larger turbo and graced with higher-flowing injectors. It also remains mated to the carryover TorqShift transmission. The interior offers a mix of original, aftermarket and era-appropriate touches, while the Asanti wheels fit the build to a “T.” In Jeremy’s own words: “It’s a hell of a conversation piece.” Let’s check it out…
Classic Chevy Up Top, All Ford Underneath
After getting the original gasoline V-8 running “for the hell of it,” it was yanked out of the way, followed by the Suburban body being lowered onto a shortened, ’04 E-250 frame. The cargo van foundation was chosen for its flat frame rails (vs. a Super Duty frame with notable bends at the front and rear sections). The E-250’s front coil spring and rear leaf spring suspension remains, along with the semi-floating Dana 60 axle out back. Whether he's driving the ‘Burb up town for parts or standing next to it at a truck show, Jeremy’s creation attracts more than its fair share of attention.
Surprisingly, wrapping the Suburban body around the 6.0L Power Stroke turned out to be less of a challenge than Jeremy originally assumed it would be. “We did have to cut the firewall to make it fit, so there is a custom doghouse on it now,” he tells us. “But it wasn’t horrible.” The reworked firewall allows the downpipe to snake down and hook on to the Suburban’s 4-inch, side-exit exhaust system. Meshing with the ‘Burb’s patina, the intake and boost tubes were powder coated to match. The latter piping connects to a factory 6.0L intercooler.
Added Power And Reliability
Like a lot of diesel enthusiasts, Jeremy is familiar with how to make the ill-fated 6.0L Power Stroke anything but the troublesome boat anchor many believe it to be. One of the biggest keys to improved reliability entails fresh head gaskets and ARP head studs. After the studs went in, a set of 190cc injectors, topped off with 30-percent over nozzles, were installed beneath the valve covers. To complement the injector upgrade, the factory VGT was replaced with a Stage 1 Garrett PowerMax drop-in, a turbo with a larger, 63.5mm compressor wheel. A cold air intake from S&B Filters feeds the higher flowing VGT.
Retaining The Ford-Built Five-Speed
Seeing no reason to reinvent the wheel, Jeremy and Chris kept the 6.0L Power Stroke attached to its native TorqShift transmission. In contrast to the Navistar-produced 6.0L, the Ford-built, five-speed slushbox is about as tough as it gets in the world of diesel-specific transmissions, and it has no problem sending an estimated 500 hp (and 1,000 lb-ft) to the rear wheels. The con-rod shifter assembly is a nice touch, too. To keep everything factory-functional, the E-250’s gauge cluster made its way into the Suburban’s original dash.
Chevy, Ford, Aftermarket And Custom Parts In The Interior
As mentioned, the interior is a mix of aftermarket, custom, factory Ford van, and original Suburban hardware—and we like all of it. Believe it or not, the front seats are 100-percent original. However, the split bench was fitted with a pair of RaceQuip 5-point harnesses. Behind the seats, you’ll find wood paneling, although it’s not exactly what you’d expect. “It’s just laminated flooring you’d find at Home Depot,” Jeremy admits. Also notice the fab work performed at the firewall, which was required to clear the rear of the engine.
All Seasons & 20’s
With Super Duty-like suspension, you get Super Duty-like ride quality—which is lightyears ahead of how a ’57 Suburban rode. One contributor to ride comfort, along with traction, solid performance in dry and wet weather, and lack of road noise, is the set of 285/50R20 Nitto NT420V all seasons the ‘Burb is equipped with. “We sell every Nitto tire at TMS Diesel,” Jeremy tells us. “And we love the 420V’s. We’ve bought multiple sets of them for various vehicles.” And while the Asanti wheels measure 20x9-inch, the Gunmetal finish—combined with their overall design—just seems to fit.
The pinstriping designs you might’ve noticed are part of a theme that’s present both inside and out on the ‘Burb. To get the specific, unique touch he was after, Jeremy enlisted the same shop that handles all of TMS Diesel’s service truck lettering.
More than a century after it first came to fame, this lost art still has a way of enhancing the curves of a vehicle in a subtle (yet favorable) manner. The hand painted TMS Diesel sign on each door was added by the same, talented set of hands, and also represents a throwback to an earlier time.
More From Driving Line
- Need proof that the 6.0L Power Stroke is a fashionable diesel swap choice? Check out this on-point High-Boy packing one under the hood.