Bob Becker of Agoura Hills, California, is a frequent flier in more ways than one. When he's not jetting from coast to coast overseeing operations at his company, he is often found behind the wheel of his stoutly built '02 Chevy Suburban, where he's racking up even more frequent flier miles.
To the untrained eye, his massive Sub may look like a boulevard cruiser, but folks who know trucks know this truck is built to perform. Witness the big air on our cover. Most Suburbans would violently regurgitate driveline or front suspension parts after a high-altitude flight like that. Becker simply drove away. Naturally, this is a testament to the Suburban's build quality and to the builder's attention to detail--and it should come as no surprise that the team at Off Road Unlimited had a major hand in building this truck.
So make sure your tray tables are stowed and your seat backs are in their full upright position, because Becker's Suburban is ready to take flight.
There's no doubt that the exterior of the big Suburban is menacing. Surprisingly, it features minimal bolt-on mods. Most obvious is the custom ORU front prerunner bar, which, like many of the other bolt-ons, is powdercoated to match the truck's stock red exterior color. This bar holds four Hella Rallye 4000 off-highway lights with custom red powdercoated rings. Other than the massive 44x19.5 Bogger tires mounted to 16.5x12 Weld Stonecrusher wheels, the only other major mod is a set of four Kodiak retractable steps that were modified by ORU to extend lower than normal to compensate for the truck's tall height.
There's not an A-arm to be seen under the front of the Suburban, thanks to an Off Road Unlimited solid-axle conversion. The ORU-built high-pinion Dana 60 front axle retains its stock ABS capabilities, but features quality aftermarket upgrades like ORU 35-spline axleshafts, an ARB Air Locker, and a set of Reider Racing 5.13:1 gears. A pair of custom 18-inch-lift National Spring leaf springs suspends the axle. From the center pins, these springs are extended 6 inches longer to the rear to improve ride quality (ORU calls these their Premium Ride springs). A pair of King 2.5-inch-diameter Pre-Runner By-pass shocks at each wheel provide damping, and they are bolted to ORU upper shock hoops and custom lower mounts. The Suburban's steering system has also been adequately beefed to handle the stresses created by the 44x19.5 Boggers as well as general off-highway abuse. Steering mods include an ORU crossover steering kit, custom extended steering-box sector shaft and ORU hydraulic ram assist.
Under the rear of the big Sub resides a capable GM 14-bolt axle with factory ABS, disc brakes, a Detroit Locker, and 5.13:1 gears. The rear suspension is a combination of custom National Spring leaf springs and Firestone airbags. Like the front, the rear suspension includes two pair of King 2.5-inch-diameter Pre-Runner By-pass shocks mounted to custom ORU shock mounts. A pair of custom ORU slip-yoked traction bars helps keep the axle planted.
Augmenting the rear leaf springs is a pair of Firestone airbags mounted on ORU-fabricated custom mounts. Becker tows heavy trailers with the Suburban, and the airbags allow the rear of the vehicle to be easily leveled. The bags draw air from a 2.5-gallon tank that is fed by an industrial-type high-volume air compressor.