Dropping in the Chevy small-block engine was the next step in the project. Ronnie built the '75 383 with Brodix Race-Rite RR 180 heads and a Crane hydraulic roller cam. The heads are capped with a pair of powdercoated aluminum valve covers, and a K&N air cleaner tops the Barry Grant 750 double-pumper on an Edelbrock Performer RPM Air-Gap intake manifold. The exhaust is routed through a set of Hedman shorty headers and a pair of Lobak mufflers. The tailpipes run through holes in the framerails. Ronnie rebuilt the small-block a few years later, with help from Elby's Automotive Machine Shop in Dublin, California. Dyno testing clocked some impressive numbers: 440 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque. Golden Gate Transmissions in Pleasanton, California, put together the 700-R4 transmission, shifted by a B&M Street Bandit with a B&M 3,000-stall converter. Ronnie narrowed the '63 12-bolt rearend and stuffed it with 4.10:1 gears, an Auburn posi, and Moser axles.
The interior is a work in progress, but the direction has been established. The sheetmetal continues the body color, contrasted with black carpet and black vinyl upholstery covering the Rally bucket seats from Procar by Scat. The dash is stock, but the factory instruments have been swapped for Auto Meter Carbon Fiber Ultra-Lite gauges. The Billet Specialties Vintec steering wheel keeps the look going with a simulated carbon-fiber wrap ring. Ronnie wired the truck using a Painless Wiring system, and Reno Heon from AccuAir Suspension provided the AccuAir E-Level electronic leveling system when Ronnie replumbed the airbags. There's a sound system coming, using JL Audio components and a hookup for an iPod. And a rear bench seat will soon be added, so more passengers can ride the Short Bus.
In addition to the hundreds of hours of help from Curt Hill, Ronnie got a lot of help from Brian Hill and Brian Bermudez in getting the Suburban on the road. "And last but not least, thanks to my dad, Ron, for coming over countless times to help me out and support me."
You can catch the Short Bus whenever Goodguys has an event in Pleasanton (Ronnie won the Slick SUV award at the All American Get-Together in March), at other shows in the Bay Area, or at Hot August Nights in Reno. You'll also find it on the Gallery page of the Hill's Rod & Custom website. Otherwise, look for the low yellow Suburban on the street, where Ronnie keeps it as much as possible.