When it came time to choose an engine package, Russell was clear with the guys that he didn’t want the engine compartment to suffer from the anemic packaging woe that befall so many pickups. He wanted an engine that would take up the room underhood without looking out of place. A blown big-block would do, for example. But Neil and the crew knew the problems that could arise from such a package and instead steered Russell toward something slightly more contemporary. They had a few LS-series engines in various projects around the shop and showed Russell what the possibilities were and the benefits of using a late-model powerplant. He agreed with the guys and before long, they had a complete 427ci LS7 package from Turnkey Engine Supply on its way from California. But this was no ordinary little LS engine. Topped with a twin-screw Kenne Bell supercharger, the 7.0L huffer makes a cool 780 hp on pump gas, all the while looking good, thanks to the aesthetic accoutrement by The Roadster Shop. To back the behemoth, the guys turned to Bowler Performance Transmissions for a beefy 4L85E trans equipped with a Lokar shifter.
With the mechanical aspects of the build sorted, the crew turned their attention to the stock sheetmetal. Rust repair was first up on the to-do list followed by a pie-cut top chop and section job. The same treatment was also made to the hood, which was louvered as well. A custom grille and surround was fabricated and the stock bumpers were reshaped, narrowed, and tucked in tight to the body. The biggest body mod however was the one that Russell had requested from day one: four doors. The existing front doors were first extended 6 inches to better fit the lengthened appearance of the truck before a new pair of rear doors were cut and added to the cab, opening in a suicide fashion. The rear doors were modified as well, creating a single lift gate door with a panoramic rear window. Shaved completely devoid of the stock trim, the smoothed out ’Burban was then rolled into The Roadster Shop’s paint booth where Joe Belfiore sprayed the massive body in a custom mix of turquoise and matte silver.
Inside the suburban’s spacious interior, the matte silver and turquoise color scheme was continued across the Classic Instruments–equipped dash. Flanking the Krist Kustom Sport bucket seats resides a custom center console that houses the Lokar shifter, Kenwood audio head unit, power window controls, and cup holders. Steve Holcomb at Pro Auto Custom Interiors in Knoxville, Tennessee, was handed the task of upholstering the ample interior space of the ’Burban in gray and charcoal leather and perforated nylon. Rolls-Royce grey carpeting covers the floor. Creature comforts include Vintage Air A/C system and headrest-mounted DVD screens to keep the kids entertained on those long road trips, of which Russell says the family already has a few planned.
Two years in the making, Russell reports that there are few things he would have done differently if given the opportunity. Short of buying a new truck, his Suburban is as close as you could get to a vintage truck with all the modern conveyances. With plenty of power under the hood and plenty of room inside the cab with all the creature comforts one can stretch their legs at, the Lane’s Thunderwagon is just what the doctor ordered for the late model SUV blues! And just for the record, Russell broke down and bought an ’05 Yukon to drive on a daily basis while the ’57 was being built. You just can’t win at everything! CCT