Category Archives: GMC

Savoring aged ‘burbans

Three's company

Three’s company. We’re pretty sure this is a ’71

It’s a fact, Suburban is the automotive nameplate that’s been in continuous use longer than any other model designation.  The name debuted more than 80 years ago with the introduction of the Chevy Carryall Suburban.  Ultimately, “Carryall” was dispensed with but the Suburban name was also applied to a GMC badge-engineered clone that became known as Yukon XL back in 2000.

Nobody forgot to close the barn doors. Note: Yukon plates

Nobody forgot to close the barn doors. Note: Yukon plates but it’s not a Yukon. (photo by Feral Cars Field Scout Tim Merlis)

In recent years, with the explosion of SUV sales, these behemoths have been transformed from the utilitarian vehicles they had been to luxury barges that are used in lieu of limousines and have supplanted minivans as the vehicles of choice for soccer moms.  The current, squared-off Suburban could easily double as a hearse and weighs almost three tons and manages to squeeze 16 paltry miles out of gallon of gas in city driving.  So much for sustainability!

Three to go

Just one for the road (side).

The point of this post is not to disparage the current Suburban (and Yukon XL) — which we kind of just did — but to celebrate earlier iterations which were, admittedly, huge but, somehow, more appropriate sans all the luxury accoutrements — like multiple doors.

Barn doors or tail gate? The choice was yours.

Barn doors or tail gate? The choice was yours. Note: iconic midcentury Eichler house in b.g.

Yes, earlier generation Suburbans came with one door on the driver’s side and two on the passenger side, the logic being that you didn’t need a door to get into the back because the vehicle is typically loaded from the right side.  This format lasted for 38 years plausibly,  because nobody cared all that much.  By the middle ’70s the idea of truck-based SUVs used as private passenger vehicles started to take hold and GM saw fit to cut another door into the driver’s side.

Pre-Yukon GMC

Pre-Yukon GMC

Speaking of doors, there was a time when you had a choice of a tailgate or panel doors (we like to call them “barn doors”) in the back.  That era of choice ended ten years ago with current models equipped only with tailgates.  Talk about bait and switch:  “Look, here’s that door you wanted. Oh, the ones in the back?  We don’t have those anymore.”

"Charp!"

“Charp!”

While we don’t, typically, do many posts about trucks we’ve decided to make an exception in the case of the Suburban in a salute to its ultra tenured status and the fact that we think old ones are much cooler than current ones.

Brick house on wheels

Brick house on wheels

Suburbans have been sold in many parts of the world including Australia where they wore Holden badges, the Middle East and Mexico.  Here’s a great commercial for the ’87 Suburban from our not yet walled-in neighbor to the south. “!Si, es lo más práctico!”

There are lots of older Suburbans out there that can be yours for the right price but not all that many with 3-doors for people and barn doors for cargo.  This one in nearby Seattle WA is offered for a buck under $17K and has been “pimped” to some extent.  Not sure what it would take to de-pimpify it but whatever the figure would be money well spent because we like to “keep it real.”

If you’ve stalked a feral car and would like to submit a photo of it for posting consideration please send it to us:   info (at) feralcars (dot)com OR through our Facebook page.

Note: While we strive for factual accuracy in our posts, we readily acknowledge that we we sometimes make inadvertent mistakes.  If you happen to catch one please don’t sit there and fume; let us know where we went wrong and we’ll do our best to correct things.

Big family fun on the run easy as G-M-C

The General goes camping

The General goes camping on six wheels

Back in the early 70s, when gas cost less than 40 cents per gallon, it seemed like a great idea for General Motors to enter the RV field with its own motor home. The burgeoning market for RVs, led by Winnebago, Travco, Clark, FMC, Glastron, etc., convinced GM to jump into the business, whole hog, rather than just providing chassis and drive train components to third parties.  The result was the stunning GMC Motorhome, a self-contained vehicle that was groundbreaking in terms of design, engineering and packaging.  Taking advantage of the Oldsmobile Toronado-derived motor (a 7.5 liter beast) and front wheel drive set-up, GM engineers came up with a vehicle, produced from 1973 – 1978,  that continues to be a cult favorite.  Of the almost 13,000 built over the course of that time, it is estimated that 9,000 have survived and thrive today.

Feral Cars fan Andrew Keeler captured this one in rural Anderson Springs, California just the other day and it looks factory fresh.  Note the Freeman Family’s coat of arms that adorns the six- wheeler’s flanks.  If driving a 12,500 pound vehicle that gets somewhere between 9 to 11 miles per gallon wherever you damn well please doesn’t make you free you don’t know the meaning of the word.

Ye olde arrvee

Motorhomies

The camper van trend began, of course, much earlier with conversions that changed delivery trucks into mobile abodes such as this ’69 Dodge Tradesman-based Travco Family Wagon with optional wooden front bumper.  Looks like claustrophobic fun, no?

High camp from the Dodge Boys

High camp from the Dodge Boys

The wackadoodle font tells you this is a fun ride!

The wackadoodle font tells you this is a fun ride!

Of course, ground zero for all of this in-vehicle camping is the good ol’ Volkswagen Microbus.  Here’s a late 80’s Vanagon with a pop-top roof for enhanced headroom.  It looks like it could use a good going over with a damp mop before hitting the open road.  By the way this third generation VW Transporter is the last rear-engined vehicle VW ever introduced.

Pop top Veedub needs scrub

Pop top Veedub needs scrub

Check out this GMC Motorhome demo video hosted by an RV salesman whose comment about the vehicle’s size, “Twenty-six foot, you can park it just about anywhere anywhere,” bears repeating.  Got the GMC Motorhome fever?  Click here to shop and become an honorary member of the Freeman Family.

If you’ve stalked a feral car and would like to submit a photo of it for posting consideration please send it to us:   info (at) feralcars (dot)com OR through our Facebook page.