The full rear quarter panels for the 1947-55 Chevy/GMC Suburban were made all the same at the metal stamping manufacturer. To save money these panels were not made different if the Suburban was to have the double doors or the tailgate style opening in the rear.
Thus, when the Suburban was provided with a lift and tailgate combination the 4 holes for the “double barn door” hinges in the quarter panels were filled with rectangular rubber plugs. This was not just for appearance but prevent rain water from reaching the body interior.
These photos show the plugs painted in body color; however it is questioned if this is correct. By 1950, Suburban buyers had the choice of the 12 pickup colors. It would have been more economical for all to have black rubber plugs instead of 12 boxes with the optional color prepainted plugs on the assembly line.
The other thought: These plugs were painted when the full body was given its final color. This would mean GM planned on the enamel body paint being of the quality that would successfully adhere to rubber over the years. We don’t usually see this combination in other GM vehicles. Special paint for rubber only is used!
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With the increased popularity of the Advance Design Suburbans (1947-1955), questions are often asked in regards to the proper seat arrangement. This eight passenger vehicle was the only GM “people hauler” on a truck chassis and still remains a popular carrier for the family.
This body style was only produced on a 1/2 ton 116″ wheelbase chassis (the same as a pickup except for 4 riveted right angle brackets to better support the body). The extra weight capacity and stiff ride of a 3/4 ton was not necessary for a vehicle carrying passengers and expected to do almost no towing.
Two seats at front consist of a 3/4 unit for the driver which can be adjusted several inches front and back. The far right non-adjusting jump seat is designed to tip forward and allow passenger access to the rear seats.
The middle unit is also only the 3/4 size. It has the same size cushions that are used by the driver, however, the framework does not adjust. It must be this 3/4 width to give room for passengers to reach the rear seat.
This back seat has full length “crowded” three passenger cushions. In today’s world, it is the rarest seat! Though all Suburbans originally had this back seat, many were removed to give more loading capacity for merchandise. They were probably put in storage or used as a seat in the barn and then forgotten years later when the Suburban was sold to the second owner.
Over the years we have been asked ‘Where can we locate the chassis frame for a Suburban or panel truck?’ The answer is not complicated. To save much money General Motors used a modified frame from a pickup. The difference is four right angle brackets riveted to the frame. These provide an attaching point for the large single unit body (Suburban and panel truck).
On most pickups, these frame holes are even punched at the factory so the long side rails can be used for either body style. Therefore, if your Suburban or panel truck needs a frame, your hunt will be less difficult. The attached photos show body mount brackets on a 1954 as they were installed at the factory.
The Advance Design (1947-1955) Suburbans, a cut above their pickup truck brothers. These special vehicles were designed as ‘people haulers.’ While trucks were carrying freight from the time of their purchase, Suburbans were reserved for passengers!
Because General Motors always kept production cost as low as possible on truck related models, they designed the Suburban on the pre-existing 1/2 ton pickup chassis as well as using the same sheet metal on its doors, front end, and dash. To dress up the body for passengers, GM added extra appearance features not found on their trucks. Though these additions were nice, they were still a long way from the appointments on the cars and station wagons being sold in the same dealerships.
To make the Suburban just a little different, the interior colors were not like trucks. In fact they were even two-tone brown! The door panel frames and removable interior window trim are a shade darker, photo E. Even the seat frames were the darker brown, photo f. The seat upholstery is brown Spanish grain while trucks in 1947-1953 were maroon. The cardboard door panels match the seat texture and color. The red-brown floor mats and door windlace colors are Suburban only.
One very different touch on the Suburban over the truck is the color of the seven horizontal ridges on their 1947-1951 dash. Note picture A and B. These ridges are the color of the darker interior trim. Photo C shows the truck (not Suburban) dash ridges which were silver to closely match the upper and lower dash horizontal stainless.
By 1952-1953 the dash stainless had been exchanged for painted steel due to Korean war shortages. Then both the Suburban and truck dashes were without contrasting colors but still kept overall interior coloring. See photo D.
In 1954-1955 the Suburban and truck body shared a new redesigned dash panel and the interior body colors were also changed. The two body styles now used the same pearl beige color on their interior metal. A medium brown Spanish grain vinyl was on the seats of both body styles. Contrasting color interior window frames were not on the 1954-1955 Suburban as seen on earlier Advance Design models.
If you have decided to restore your rare early Advance Design Suburban as it left the factory, these tips can separate the men from the boys in serious judging. To some it may be just as important for the daily driver.
Photo A (above)
Photo B (above)
Photo C (above)
Photo D (above)
Two Tone Door Panel (above)
Photo E (above)
Photo F (above)
Suburbans ‘ people haulers on a 1/2 ton truck chassis. Not designed for truck freight, the successful Suburban was created to move people. They quickly gained popularity among the military, as crew haulers for companies, and for small rural school buses.
By the 1960′s, GM began to expand their Suburban market to attract families. To many this would be a great heavy-duty family car. A more deluxe Suburban model was introduced. The exterior trim and well appointed interior defiantly showed this model was not for commercial use.
These pictures of a 1962 top of the line GMC Suburban show the unique trim that was placed on this model. It is for GMC only ‘ not Chevrolet. Though Chevrolet shared the same body and some chassis parts; trim, interior, and colors were different so each brand could be individual.
Look closely and see how the GMC brand kept their cost of side trim to a minimum. Other than the curves around the front door windows, straight pieces of aluminum trim make up the package. The more obvious economy steps are on the rear quarter panel. Note vertical and horizontal trim strips simply butt together. They also act as paint divider strips for the two-tone paint combination of the GMC. The die cast chrome ‘custom’ emblem in the same as on the GMC pickup.
This is an excellent example of a very original GMC Suburban interior. The woven green seat material is as it was 40 years ago. The right jump seat swings up and forward to gain access to the rear. Note how the middle seat is shorter so that the passengers can walk to the rear.
Today, even finding a 1960-1966 GMC Suburban is rare but locating one with this deluxe custom package is almost impossible.
During the beginning of the Advance Design years (1947-1949) new Chevrolet Suburbans were sold in one color combination; Channel Green (light) on the lower body and Fathom green (dark) on the upper.
Unless the customer paid extra for a specific paint such as for school bus use or a commercial paint color for a company, the two tone green was the color your received.
Beginning in 1950 this changed. Chevrolet began also offering 12 colors as on pickups and large trucks.
The following is from a 1950 Chevrolet announcement pamphlet showing changes in trucks that year