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.
In stock form, the Vortec 8.1L big-block V-8 engine is a veritable powerhouse. Nonetheless, this fact didn't stop Becker from vastly increasing his 8.1 via a host of Whipple products. The list includes a twin-screw supercharger, air-to-water intercooler, state-of-the-art air intake system, and Power Flash Programmer (for factory ECU recalibration). These bolt-on items help the engine produce a darn respectable 550 hp and 780 lb-ft of torque, which is more than enough to propel the heavy Suburban. Also helping the engine produce power is a custom 2.5-inch-diameter dual exhaust system with Flowmaster mufflers. Power is routed through the stock 4L80E transmission, which has held up to the engine's output so far.
There are gobs of functional goodies residing under the front of the Sub. Here you can see the custom ORU engine crossmember with integrated nitrogen bumpstops. This assembly also serves as the upper mounting point for the track bar. Also visible is the custom ORU steering-box brace and ORU torsion sway bar.
The NP263 transfer case (pirated from a Chevy HD pickup) features a Pro Comp slip-yoke eliminator kit, and the entire unit has been reindexed to compensate for the extreme suspension lift via an Attitude Performance transfer-case indexing ring. The transfer case is protected via a custom ORU transfer-case skidplate/crossmember that also serves as a mount for the custom ORU rear traction bars. Each end of the 'case sprouts heavy-duty High Angle Driveline driveshafts. The front 1-ton CV shaft required that a notch be made in the pan of the transmission to facilitate fitment. The rear 'shaft is slip-yoke-free and features 1410-series U-joints.
Owner: Bob Becker, Agoura Hills, California
Vehicle/Model: '02 Chevy Suburban
Estimated Value: N/A
Type: 8.1L V-8
Aspiration: Fuel injection, Whipple supercharger and intercooler, custom dual 2.5-inch-diameter exhaust, Flowmaster mufflers Output, hp/torque @ rpm (estimated): 550 @ 4,600/780 lb-ft @ 3,000-3,600
Transfer case: NP263, Pro Comp SYE kit, Attitude Performance indexing ring
Front: ORU solid-axle conversion, custom National Spring leaf springs; King 2.5-inch-diameter shocks; ORU upper shock hoops
Rear: Custom National Spring leaf springs; Firestone airbags on ORU custom mounts; ORU slip-yoke traction bars
Front: Dana 60, ORU 35-spline axleshafts, ORU crossover steering, modified steering box/ARB Air Locker
Rear: GM 14-bolt/Detroit Locker Ring-and-pinion: 5.13:1 Reider Racing
Wheels: 16.5x12 Weld Stonecrusher
Tires: 44x19.5-16.5 Boggers