Brawny: 1972 Chevrolet Suburban Deluxe K10 4X4
If you thought the SUV craze of the 1990s was mystifying, you'll be humbled to know they made them just as large in the 70s.
In the history of automobiles, the contributions the United States has made to this mode of transportation are still to be determined. The Germans made the first automobiles, and, for a while, arguably the best. The Italians made the prettiest cars, car bodies as an art form. The Japanese made the most reliable and well-built cars.
But in America, we were better at processes than at an actual finished artistic statement of a product. Henry Ford brilliantly made the Model T affordable to many people thanks to mass production techniques, but how interesting or sophisticated of a vehicle was it actually? He refused to make many year-by-year updates, and by the time it was retired, competitors had advanced well beyond it.
Perhaps the most notable contribution then of an actual concept has been the Sport Utility Vehicle. Sure, the Europeans and Asians pumped out the Defender 90, Unimog, Pinzgauer, FJ Cruiser. But American trucks had this raw attitude the others lacked. They were enormous, but for civilian consumption. They were well-built and well-equipped, but accessible to almost everyone. They were good looking but never truly stylish.
Which is when we arrive at the this seventh-generation Chevy Suburban, produced during the welfare-warfare heyday of 1967-1972. These did not populate the driveways of suburban homes, nor were they expected to. I imagine people only bought these for specific uses in rural areas: cattle baron herder, ski resort shuttle, Yellowstone National Park patrol. Clearly the vehicle is just as large as today's Suburban. The key difference was that Americans of the late 60s and 70s might have showed some practicality and restraint.
This generation Suburban is not without some charms. It has only one door on the driver's side, and two doors on the passenger side. It looks fantastic in period bronze with a white roof. It's sitting on late model factory Rally wheels and Michelin Radials. The seller provides one of the better classified writeups I've seen lately, but doesn't seem to know any history about the vehicle, and assumes it has been "professionally" repainted and restored. As such, the paint is in good shape, and they say the body has no rust and no indications of being repaired.
Inside, the seats are tooled vinyl and the floor is carpeted. The interior looks immaculate and the dashboard is spotless. Note the use of exterior color inside, for a playful yet utilitarian feel.
Underneath the hood is an equally clean and detailed 350 V8 engine, tastefully given a coat of orange paint (that's a thing they do for American V8 engines, I haven't figured out why yet).
This was either a very well done restoration or an incredible survivor. The seller says the odometer reads 36,701 miles, but it's a 5 digit odometer so it can't be verified as original miles or turned over.
Regardless, it looks great and seems ready to hit the trails.
Find it here on ebay in Charlotte, North Carolina for $28, 995, about the same price as a new SUV. Which would you rather have?