Insuring there were no weak links in the drivetrain, Jim tossed the old driveshaft and installed a newly balanced unit fitted with heavy-duty U-joints featuring Allemite zerk fittings. From its Flint, Michigan, birthplace, Jim's 'Burb left the factory with 3.08:1 freeway gears. The only work needed here was a fresh change of hypoid gear oil and a couple of cans of Krylon semi-gloss black spray paint.
The last link in the chain of essential mechanized ingredients was the '65's cooling system. One of the considerations Jim faced was selecting a radiator heavy duty enough to cool a relatively weighty old truck pulling a load of passengers with camping gear up steep mountain grades. Jim subcontracted B&M Radiator of Fremont, California, to swap in a four-row core between his '65's original radiator tanks.
Ensuring the 'Burb's cooling system was in top shape paid off down the road when Jim decided it was time to install air conditioning. While Jim and his family were at the Goodguys show in Pleasanton, California, he asked the guys at Vintage Air's booth which one of their units would work best for his '65 Suburban. When Jim returned home, he called Vintage Air in San Antonio, Texas, and ordered an A/C unit direct.
In '78, with the help of Arlen Ness, Jim and his wife, Rita, built a custom chopper. Jim told us he would swing by Arlen's shop on numerous occasions to buy parts and pick Arlen's brain on how to build things right. One of the details that really stood out on Jim and Rita's bike was the Arlen Ness paint job. When the chopper was completed they took it to the Oakland Roadster Show, where it took second place in its class. Without Arlen's guidance, Jim realized he wouldn't have been able to build such a nice Suburban in his garage.
You did read the last paragraph right: Jim, with the help of his family, performed all the work on his Suburban in their two-car garage. His brother-in-law, John Huber, did the exterior bodywork, featuring a shaved tailgate, hatch, and door handles, and then climbed under the hood and smoothed the firewall. Everything from stripping the Suburban down to the bare metal on up to finishing it off in DuPont two-stage aqua and white paint was accomplished without leaving the garage.
The taillight shape is unique to Suburbans and panels-don't you love it?
The Suburban's exterior shaving includes the door handles, tailgate with hatch, and bumper
The door panels are from Rod Doors.