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1952 Jimmy Suburban—and/or Carryall

HOT ROD logo HOT ROD 9/2/2018 Hot Rod Network Staff
1952-GMC-Suburban-Jack-Nebo-01
1952-GMC-Suburban-Jack-Nebo-01© Hot Rod Network Staff 1952-GMC-Suburban-Jack-Nebo-01

Some may call it a Suburban. Others may call it a Carryall. What distinguishes the difference (if there is a difference) depends upon who we ask—and/or perhaps folding seat position. Seats folded out, Suburban? Seats folded in, Carryall? We don't know. Maybe you do, but since it doesn't really matter, let's not get stuck on that. Instead let's just accept the idea that one model can be known by two names. On that note, let's say this multi-purpose 1952 GMC Suburban can carry all—but a tune. That part is the job of its owner, blues harmonica artist Jack Nebo of Riverside, California.

Now, does anyone here believe in love at first sight? Jack and wife, Sheila, are believers. They agreed they could love the ol' Suburban right away, as Sheila's brother, Mike Birmingham, introduced them by lifting the cover. In and around Silverthorne, Colorado, Mike does well as a wheeler-dealer and collector of older cars and trucks. The Suburban was a recent acquisition so Mike wasn't eager to let it go. A few months later his stance had softened. When a stranger came to his door meaning business, Mike telephoned Jack and Sheila. They confirmed that they really wanted the Surburban, which pretty much set the stage for Jack's next steady gig—his impending four-year build.

Following its delivery to Riverside, Jack and Sheila began searching for clues as they inspected the new project. As Jack explains, "We discovered old paperwork with some history. This truck was originally a Navy ambulance. Then it became a paint truck for Los Angeles Unified School District. The truck somehow made its way to Colorado and we believe we are the fourth owners."

Every now 'n' then misfortune leads to good fortune. Unfortunate body damage sustained during transport led the Nebos to Scott Barnekow—proprietor of Rodco Hot Rods, also in Riverside. Their successful repairs led to more, and more, and eventually a complete reconstruction. 'Til now we haven't talked about the ol' Suburban's preexisting condition. The poor ol' Jimmy was powered by a transplanted Mopar mill—a 1973-vintage 318ci V-8 with plain-wrong drivetrain components to match. As Jack and Barnekow's build plan came together those things topped a laundry list of things to go.

Beginning at the beginning, the ol' Suburban's rust-encrusted frame received some needed attention. When the dust settled, orders were placed, packages arrived, and today the finished product's underpinnings are up-to-date. Up front suspension is all Heidts. Out back we find a Total Cost Involved four-link setup with All American coilover shocks.

This time around, power is provided by a 330-horse, 350ci Chevrolet crate motor with performance modifications by Phoenix Engine. With a little help from a 2,200-stall convertor, power is transmitted via 700-R4, prepared by SW Performance Transmissions. An all-new aluminum driveline from Inland Empire Driveline Service makes the connection to a 9-inch Lincoln Versailles rearend, freshened up in-house at Rodco.

For a proper balance of go 'n' whoa, stopping power begins underfoot with a bolt-on pedal assembly from Classic Performance Products (CPP). Front rotors and calipers are GM, as is the master cylinder, which is now accompanied by a CPP booster. Rear rotors and calipers are reconditioned stock stuff for the midsize Versailles rearend, which tucks in nicely under the ol' Suburban.

For the parts most folks would see, chemical stripper came into play as the main body's secrets were exposed in-house at Rodco. The body parts that would fit in the bed of a shop truck (fenders, hood, doors, and so on) were transported to nearby Abrasive Blasting Service. From there the in-house body 'n' paint marathon began. When that dust settled, Rodco pounder/painter Robert Montes was declared the winner. After the usual cutting, buffing, 'n' polishing, the ol' Suburban was resplendent in PPG Indigo Blues Metallic with a Gunmetal accent stripe 'round the body's beltline reveal.

After a spit-shine of the new blue hue, the ol' Suburban was ready for new glass. Barnekow's longtime friend, Doug Shamblin, had already handled the permanent removal of the sliding quarter glass' division bars. That was done prior to paintwork, by reworking the surrounding sheetmetal so that smoother-in-appearance single-piece quarter glass could be cut by the area's go-to glazier Mark Chavez of American Glass Company. Adhering to the bluesy theme, Mark offered up a Liquid Blue tint, which of course fit the bill for Jack.

Meanwhile, back at Rodco, wiring tasks were tackled by longtime in-house wiring specialist Jerry Echandi. Echandi has wired more ol' cars and trucks there than you can shake a test-light at. Some are rather complicated jobs. The ol' Suburban was not. Even with its big, booming sound system, Vintage Air, and numerous other electrical options, the complete rewire presented no unusual challenges for Echandi. Most of it is hidden. All of it is pretty—and bulletproof to boot.

With body, paint, glass, and wiring chores all 'tended to, it was time for interior trim. The greater Inland Empire area has no shortage of trimmers. Some are very good. A few are quite well known. After careful consideration, Jack and Barnekow agreed to commission Ernie Yanez Jr. of Ernie's Auto Interiors for the inside job. Keeping in tune with exterior cues, Jack chose two-tone gray leather, which works nicely to tie in the Gunmetal beltline accent stripe. Completing the interior is a particularly clever product of Jack's own imagineering. Now topping a Lokar shifter is a repurposed Shure Super 55 dynamic microphone.

With interior trim finished up, tedious final assembly got underway at Rodco. Grantland radial rubber rolled into the picture and The Wheelsmith's "Rallye" wheels received reproduction GMC 'caps. While the nearly finished project was up on the lift, in-house exotic exhaust expert Kenny Acshe bent up a custom blend of 2.5-inch tubes, Flowmaster mufflers, and his own brand electric cutouts—perhaps for added safety in the big city.

Obviously, the end result is beautiful in deep Indigo blues. If we look harder, it's beautiful in an even deeper way. During the course of this four-year build, professionals assisted with every phase. Now at the end of the extra-long haul, Jack and Sheila Nebo are happily satisfied with everyone involved. Making friends through business is a priceless bonus—don't you think?

1952 GM Suburban

CHASSIS

Frame: Stock

Rearend / Ratio: Lincoln Versailles, 3.50

Rear Suspension: Total Cost Involved four-link and All American coilovers

Rear Brakes: Disc-type, stock Lincoln Versailles

Front Suspension: Heidts independent

Front Brakes: Disc-type, GM rotors and calipers

Steering Box: Power rack-and-pinion

Front Wheels: The Wheelsmith "Rallye" 16x8

Rear Wheels: The Wheelsmith "Rallye" 16x8

Front Tires: Grantland Milestar radials 225/60R16

Rear Tires: Grantland Milestar radials 245/70R16

Gas Tank: Stock

DRIVETRAIN

Engine: 330-horse, 350ci Chevrolet by Phoenix Engine

Heads: Vortec, 194 intake and 1.5 exhaust

Valve Covers: Chrome plated

Manifold / Induction: Edelbrock and Edelbrock 600

Ignition: HEI and 8mm Taylor wires

Headers: Patriot Tight Tuck from Summit Racing Equipment

Exhaust / Mufflers: Custom 2.5-inch twice-pipes, Flowmasters and cutouts

Transmission: 700-R4 by SW Performance Transmissions

Shifter: Lokar

BODY

Style: Suburban—and/or Carryall

Modifications: Rear body panel reshaped to fit Billet Specialties taillamps

Fenders front / rear: Stock

Hood: Stock

Grille: Stock, restored and re-chromed

Bodywork and Paint by: Robert Montes of Rodco

Paint Type / Color: All PPG, Indigo Blues Metallic and Gunmetal accent

Headlights / Taillights: Stock up front, Billet Specialties out back

Outside Mirrors: Reproductions from Brothers Truck Parts

Bumpers: Reproductions from The Truck Shop

INTERIOR

Dashboard: Stock

Gauges: Autometer

Air Conditioning: Vintage Air

Stereo: Sony with Pioneer speakers

Steering Wheel: 14-inch billet-type from Performance Online

Steering Column: ididit

Seats: Stock frames and springs

Upholstery by: Ernie's Auto Interiors

Material / Color: Two-tone gray leather

Carpet: Matching gray

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