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Year, Make and Model – 1967-’72 Chevrolet Suburban

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Photos courtesy GM Media.

Editor’s note: This piece includes excerpts from a story that appeared in the May 2012 issue of Hemmings Motor News.

At 81 years young, Chevrolet’s Suburban is one of the longest-running continuously built models in automotive history.

The name has changed over time from Carryall Suburban to just Suburban — GM didn’t even bother to trademark the now-iconic name until the 1980s, as it was long used as a generic term to describe people-movers dating back to the horse and buggy days. But the ‘burb’s make up has always been a constant: a station wagon-type body perched atop a light-truck chassis.

For the first half of its existence, the Suburban was a niche commercial vehicle sold to users who needed a wagon with superior hauling and towing capability. First launched in 1935, the Suburban could seat eight people, and with its furniture removed, could haul a mountain of objects inside its 75-inch-long by 77-inch-high cargo hold. The base price of that truck was $675, or the equivalent of about $11,000 today.

In the 1967-’72 era, Suburban sales figures grew dramatically from about 6,200 in 1967 to more than 27,000 in 1972. The number of Suburbans ordered with four-wheel drive increased significantly during those years, too. In 1967, only 166 half-ton models and 120 three-quarter-tons were built with four-wheel drive. By 1972, 3,000 half-tons and nearly 1,400 three-quarter-ton models were 4x4s. The 1972 Suburban also marked the end of the three-door body style that featured a single door on the driver’s side and a pair of doors on the passenger side. This generation of Suburban saw the introduction of a longer, 127-inch wheelbase, which significantly increased its cargo-hauling capability and enhanced its towing capacity and it was the generation that launched the heavy-duty three-quarter-ton chassis.

Standard equipment included front disc brakes (introduced in 1971), while power steering and power interior accessories were optional. A straight-six engine was standard, while several small-blocks and a big-block V-8 were available. A dual-cylinder brake system, energy-absorbing steering column, padded dash, and a thicker laminated safety glass windshield also made their debuts on the 1967-’72 trucks and Suburbans.

On two-wheel-drive models, Suburbans used GM’s “Girder Beam” front suspension, which boasted a thick, girder-like crossmember tying together a typical coil spring arrangement with upper and lower control arms. In the rear, two-wheel-drive Suburbans rode on two-stage coil springs attached to beefy trailing arms. For extra support when trailering or hauling heavy loads, single tapered-leaf auxiliary springs could be added. Four-wheel-drive models used leaf-spring suspension front and rear.

Engine selections for 1967 included and six-cylinders, a base V-8 and the V-8 as an option. In 1968, the 307 became the base V-8, while the 327 and big-block were optional. In 1969, the 350 was added to the lineup. The last engine change came in 1971 when the 396 was referred to as a 400, reflecting the engine’s increase in size to 402 cubic inches. (The 400 small-block was added in 1975.)

Suburbans were available in standard and Custom Deluxe trim. When the buyer opted for RPO Z62, the Custom Deluxe Model Option, he was treated to Custom Deluxe exterior nameplates, bright wing-window frames, an upgraded horn, full body undercoating, chrome interior knob inserts, a bright dome lamp bezel, a cigarette lighter, interior courtesy lamps, and a full-length interior headliner, among other things.

Two-tone paint was also available on Suburbans. The conventional two-tone treatment offered white paint on the roof, rear body pillars and the top half of the rear doors or rear window frame. The special two-tone option added white paint to the lower portions of the front and rear fenders and doors. A belt-line molding was available as an extra-cost option.

The 1973 model year brought about an all-new Suburban with an extensively redesigned four-door body, leaf spring rear suspension on two-wheel and four-wheel-drive trucks, as well as the availability of the mighty big-block V-8.

Values for 1967-’72 Suburbans tend to lag slightly behind similarly equipped Chevrolet pickup trucks, which can make them a good deal. Rust is far and away the biggest enemy of these vehicles. Floor pans, body mounts, rocker panels, doors, wheel houses and wheel openings are all susceptible to rot, and repairing a Suburban properly can be a major undertaking because of the sheer size of the body. The parts supply for these trucks remains excellent, however. Used, NOS and aftermarket components are all widely available, and the knowledge network for these trucks is vast.

Today, more than 80 years after the truck’s introduction, Chevrolet Suburbans can be seen serving as family cars, emergency response vehicles, school buses and limousines. The inviting styling and car-like features designed into the 1967-’72 Suburban helped Chevrolet capitalize on the truck’s versatility and ensured it a bright future within the company’s lineup.

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