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Username Post: New to me 57 Suburban        (Topic#351641)
Posts: 6

Reg: 06-19-18
06-19-18 05:29 PM - Post#2737595    

My neighbor brought this project home about a week ago. He's been feeling a bit overwhelmed and decided he didn't want to take it on... I made an offer and he's agreed to sell it. even though I'm short on time and money, I knew I'd regret passing on it...

It looks like it was sitting in the mud for years. My plan is:

Evaluate the motor/trans/rear end and find out what is good. Decide whether to rebuild that or swap in parts of the drivetrain from a 87 Astro that I happen to have (4.3/4sp auto/TBI...wrecked but ran well before the crash)

It has 6 lug axles, 115" wheelbase, clamshell rear, a title (vin# on door / title seems to be from a 3/4 pickup though) There are some numbers on the driver's side frame rail...

It has factory PS and PB, I need to decide if those will be rebuilt and stay, or if I'll do something more hack to make it go.

Most of the parts seem to be there (minus the driver's side door that he threw away)

I'm planning to make it run and drive and leave the body mostly as is (need to replace front cab corners / stepwells, and might do the bottom of the quarters too) The rest has surface rust, but seems pretty solid.

I've never messed with anything this old, plan on reading a lot here... Where else should I be looking??

I'm feeling overwhelmed but excited... and want to make the best plan I can for going forward.

Any tips / critiques for the direction I'm considering?


Founder & Grand PoohBah
Posts: 18258
Age: 63
Loc: Orange County CA.
Reg: 03-15-99
06-19-18 07:21 PM - Post#2737613    
    In response to gillyburb

Looks like a great project.

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Posts: 27999
Loc: San Francisco, CA
Reg: 11-26-02
06-20-18 12:56 AM - Post#2737631    
    In response to gillyburb

  • gillyburb Said:
.....It has 6 lug axles, 115" wheelbase, clamshell rear, a title (vin# on door / title seems to be from a 3/4 pickup though).....

What do you mean by a "clamshell rear"? I have never heard that term before, although I do know what a stock 1/2 ton rear looks like. Are you saying that it does not have a stock 1/2 ton rear?


Those who choose an automatic transmission want transportation. Those who choose a manual transmission want to drive.

"13th Year" Gold Supporting Member
Posts: 1412
Loc: Detroit area
Reg: 01-02-07
06-20-18 01:10 AM - Post#2737632    
    In response to raycow

Hi Ray. I think he refers to the rear doors- upper and lower like an old station wagon, as opposed to the two side by side (like a refrigerator) doors.


"14th Year" Platinum Supporting Member
Posts: 3200
Loc: So Cal
Reg: 06-07-05
06-20-18 05:35 AM - Post#2737651    
    In response to gillyburb

Welcome to CT and congratulations on being bit by the same bug we all have. It's gonna cost you some time and money, but the rewarding part is the process of building it and bringing another old one back on the street.

Begin with the end in mind: What type of build...a running stocker, a restomod Burb?

The internet and search engines are your friend for sure. Start by looking at some pics of other 57 Burbs. It will help you crystalize what you know you can end up with (time and money wise).

Then make a list and get started. Pick one area to work on and stay with it till completed. Resist the urge to take on all aspects of this at the same time. Just try to get it running and stopping first. That alone will be gratifying.

Post lots of progress pics and ask your questions.

Congrats again.

57 Nomad -LS1 with C4 suspension
59 Apache Fleetside Shortbed BigWindow

Posts: 27999
Loc: San Francisco, CA
Reg: 11-26-02
06-20-18 07:59 AM - Post#2737663    
    In response to Dean50

Dean, that makes perfectly good sense. My mind was fixed on the rear axle and I never even thought about the tailgate. Thank you for clearing that up.


Those who choose an automatic transmission want transportation. Those who choose a manual transmission want to drive.

Posts: 6

Reg: 06-19-18
06-20-18 10:05 PM - Post#2737755    
    In response to raycow

Thanks for the warm welcome guys, and the advice.

By clamshell rear, yes...I meant the tail gate area vs panel doors.

My plan is to build a 'survivor-mod' leaving the body mostly as-is but updating the running gear to drive it reliably on a tight budget... TBI, EFI(Edit I meant HEI), and OD trans.

Most of the body is there... Although I'm keeping my radar up for a driver's side door that would be close in color. I've been told that 55-59 should fit.

I'll plan to keep updating this thread, posting pics and questions when they come up.

Edited by gillyburb on 06-21-18 05:38 PM. Reason for edit: No reason given.

"3rd Year" Silver Supporting Member
Posts: 5507
Loc: Yakima, WA. USA
Reg: 12-28-02
06-21-18 05:13 AM - Post#2737771    
    In response to gillyburb

  • gillyburb Said:
It has 6 lug axles, 115" wheelbase

I think you might find that the wheelbase on your suburban is actually 114". Something to look at closely if you are going to do a chassis swap.

1951 Fleetline Preservation
'51 Fleetline DeLuxe 2 DOOR SEDAN (Fathom Green)
'51 Styleline Special BUSINESS COUPE (Shadow Gray)
'53 6500 Dump Bed (Oxidized Red)
'50 Styleline DeLuxe 4 DOOR SEDAN (Mist Green)

Posts: 6

Reg: 06-19-18
07-06-18 08:45 PM - Post#2739247    
    In response to RAM_51

Thanks for that... I probably let the tape sag!

Posts: 6

Reg: 06-19-18
07-06-18 09:04 PM - Post#2739248    
    In response to gillyburb

Got her into my shop, up on jackstands, heres a pic of the rear. The tag is dated 1971.

I'm thinking this might have to do with why it started sitting in the first place. (crushed gas tank and dent in driveshaft)

There's about an inch of mud stuck to the rear diff, most of the frame and front suspension.

I've got one door. (neighbor threw the driver side in the trash) I'm hoping to get lucky and find one that'll be close to the rest of the truck.

I think the paint is original (the code on the body tag indicated Indian Turquoise)

But... that's a hydromatic badge and the truck seems to have a 3 speed manual

According to what I've found...The VIN doesn't code for a suburban, it's a 3B which indicates 3200 series, the only suburban that year was 3100 series.

Also the engine # (F0207D)seems to indicate D - 1958-64 Passenger Car with Power Glide according to engine-codes-suffix-4.php
OR 58 or 60 Power Glide, car or truck according to d_hz.htm

It has a power assist steering, pump at back of generator, powering a ram attached to the tie rod on the manual steering system

I'm curious about what pressure it ran at compared to a late model pump, I'm guessing it's less and am wondering how to reduce the pressure from a more modern pump if that's the route I go

The brake booster is mounted on the frame, kind of interesting to me. Like the power steering system I've never noticed one like it before.

At this point I'm working on taking the rear end out, and am planning on working from back to front, focusing on updating the running gear. 1st decision is to evaluate the original rear end and decide if it can be reused.

I'm pretty busy the next few weeks one a big project but hope to have it out and figured out by the end of august.

I'm open to any tips, tricks, hints, or criticisms!!! Thanks for having a place that I can share!!

Edited by gillyburb on 07-06-18 09:13 PM. Reason for edit: No reason given.

"14th Year" Silver Supporting Member
Posts: 1381
Age: 69
Loc: Illinois
Reg: 04-28-00
07-07-18 05:59 AM - Post#2739269    
    In response to gillyburb

Welcome to the forum! There's a lot of very knowledgeable people here and I'm sure you'll find it a great resource.

You've got a great start with that truck being in pretty good condition. I love the old Suburbans. I think yours may be a little more rare with those rear doors. Nice!

Just a few suggestions, more like opinions, so take them with a grain of salt .......

One day you'll have it on the road, so SAFETY should be a priority.

That said, think about the braking system. The original system just doesn't work well at all by today's standards. You have a master cylinder under the floor with a single line feeding everything. As you may already know, if you blow a line or wheel cylinder anywhere, you lose your brakes entirely. You also have drums on all 4 corners that aren't very effective if you have to get all that weight slowed down quickly.

So, you have to decide what you want to do to make it better.

I believe the safest setup is more like modern braking systems (sans antilock). You can replace that old master cylinder with a dual unit (with booster). One line to the front and one line to the rear. You can also get a disc brake conversion kit for the front wheels. That kit will also allow you to replace the ball bearing front wheel bearings with modern style tapered roller bearings. It's a pretty easy bolt-on installation.

I bring this up now because you have to decide if you're keeping the 6 lug rear axle or changing to five lug. Front rotors are available for both.

If you decide to keep the original drum brakes, parts are available to rebuild them to get them working properly. But I still recommend a dual master cylinder.

1957 3200 Stepside

Posts: 6

Reg: 06-19-18
07-07-18 09:07 PM - Post#2739329    
    In response to Don57

Thanks for the encouragement and the tips on the brakes Don!

Senior Member
Posts: 330
Loc: Orange County, Ca.
Reg: 08-08-04
11-10-19 07:29 PM - Post#2779943    
    In response to gillyburb

Looks like you have a great start.

If your going to ditch the fuel tank or just the stock gauges, I'm looking for a stock fuel sending unit for a panel/suburban.

'60 Chevy El Camino
'60 Studebaker Lark Wagon
'59 Hillman Husky (2-because you need parts)
'56 Chevy Panel truck
'47 Ford 2dr Super Deluxe
'41 Ford Pickup
'36 Ford 5w coupe
'28 Ford Tudor
They're all projects in some form.


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