It is interesting that Chevrolet introduced a truck to carry nine adults and some cargo in 1935, but what seems remarkable is they decided to call this vehicle the Suburban Carryall. It was the first all-steel station wagon ever built, and while the military, forest service, and other government agencies bought them, they were also found to be useful as estate wagons and airport vehicles.

Fifty years later, the SUV craze has swept suburbia by storm and began with families who wanted a larger vehicle for vacations and sports activities; and the Suburban was leading the way. While SUV production is a mainstay for automakers today, in 1966 there were only 7,247 Suburbans built, making them a fairly rare vehicle today.

Enter Pat and Nancy Isenberg, hot rodders who have enjoyed the likes of a blown Willys coupe and some wild Tri-Five Chevrolets. When family demands seemed to point to an SUV, Pat figured he could find a great vintage ride for less money that would be more fun than anything Detroit has to offer today. After some searching, they came across the 1966 Suburban you see here. The Suburban is a truly versatile vehicle as it fills the needs as a hot rod and a family hauler.

The truck takes on hot rod status with surprisingly few modifications. Externally the truck is just the way it left the factory with optional chrome grille and bumpers. Of course, the Spectra Master Yellow under white paintwork is superior to the 1966 effort, but from the headlights to the taillights everything else remains stock.

Inside the truck, a late-model front seat was substituted for comfort, while the rear seats are from a late-model Ford van. The light tan vinyl and cloth upholstery is both stylish and durable and a dual air conditioning system keeps every one comfortable in the old truck. The tan paint on the doors remain exposed and even the steering column, gauge cluster and steering wheel are all factory original, proving some things just don’t need fixing.

This particular Suburban was ordered with the optional 283ci V-8. In 1966, it produced 195 hp and was coupled to a Powerglide transmission. The original 283 were given a complete rebuild with a mild cam, but the rest remains stock, right down to the air breather and exhaust manifolds. The Powerglide was replaced with a later model Turbo 350 transmission.

Of course, any hot rod hauler has to have an attitude, and that generally comes from dropping the truck several inches. Up front, the suspension from a 1987 Chevrolet truck was adapted and Ride Tech suspension, front and rear, provides adjustable ride height. Disc brakes up front makes stopping at highway speed safe and easy. Power steering makes parking at the mall easy and steel wheels that measure 15x7 up front and 15x9 out back are wrapped with Tempra whitewall tires.

And so, 55 years after this truck rolled off the assembly line it is still a carryall, but now, it is a family oriented hot rod truck too. The Chevrolet Suburban has proven to be an enduring design and proves you can haul the family and have a hot rod too. CCT