What do you do when you are into rockcrawling but have a family of seven? If you are Mark Schultz, you build a Suburban big enough to fit your wife and all of your kids. Schultz started with a $200 investment four years ago for a 3/4-ton Suburban with a blown engine. He started with a 6-inch lift kit and a remanufactured engine, but that engine got smoked in short order. Fortunately, the initial investment was minimal, which left enough money in the budget for a 406ci V-8 from Custom Exhaust Specialties and 1-ton axles.
Schultz painted the big Burb himself—and then decided to take 16 inches of the rear of the body. After that he took the Suburban to his friend Graeme Tydeman at G-Fab Motorsports, who linked the front end and added a trick hybrid ’cage. Wheeling with Graeme and the Sketchy Oregon Boys started a downhill spiral of dents and broken parts.
Don’t let the current straight sheetmetal fool you. Schultz recently replaced the body panels on the Chevy and repainted it. The repairs were necessary after following buggies and Jeeps through wooded Oregon trails in a fullsize family rig.
After having issues with rebuilt engines, Mark Schultz stepped up to race car-quality parts. Power comes from a 475hp Chevy small-block that Shayne Burton at Custom Exhaust Specialties built with Trick Flow Twisted Wedge aluminum heads, a SCAT crank and rods, Mahle pistons, and a Comp Cams camshaft designed to work with the FAST EZ-EFI fuel system.
The interior is completely caged to keep the entire family safe. G-Fab Motorsports built the cage from 2x0.120- and 1.75x0.120-wall tubing and ran the top halo outside the vehicle, but the downriggers are inside the cab. This type of hybrid cage takes a lot of work to build, but they are becoming popular due to increased headroom without the added width of a full exo-cage.
Son Alex held up an old body panel from the Suburban to show just how hammered it was. Mark Schultz replaced the body panels, which come apart at the floor seam. While this was an involved process, he found it to be much easier than a full cab swap.
Rolling stock consists of 40-inch Nitto Trail Grapplers wrapped around Trail-Gear Creeper Locks. Schultz painted the rims to match the Suburban and added red, white, and blue beadlock ring segments for a patriotic look.
The front axle is a kingpin Dana 60 that has been upgraded with 4.88 gears, an ARB Air Locker, a Solid Industries diff cover, Nitro 35-spline chromoly axleshafts, and Yukon hardcore hubs. The axle is turned by a Toyota box that was tapped for hydraulic assist and pushes a PSC ram. The steering links are 1.5x0.250-wall DOM, but that still isn’t enough for the 6,800-pound Suburban.
G-Fab Motorsports built the three-link front suspension with 2.25x0.375-wall DOM links capped with Currie Johnny Joints. 14-inch-travel remote-reservoir Fox coilover shocks with 175– over 300–lb-in coil springs suspend the axle, and Fox air bumps smooth out the last few inches of travel.
The rear axle is a 14-bolt filled with 4.88 gears and a spool behind the Solid Industries diff cover. Disc brakes increase stopping power and shed a bunch of weight compared to the factory drums. The axle is located by 63-inch-long Deaver leaf springs with an OffRoad Design shackle flip and is damped by Bilstein 5100 monotube shocks.
The Suburban body was shortened 16 inches behind the rear tire for improved departure angle. Plexiglass rear windows replaced the factory glass and take abuse without breaking. The grille was narrowed 10 inches and the hood and fenders modified to match. This greatly improves visibility on the tight, technical trails that Schultz likes to run.
1990 Chevy Suburban
Engine: 406ci V-8
Transmission: TH400 3-speed automatic
Transfer Case: NWF Black Box and NP205
Front Axle: Dana 60 with 4.88 gears and ARB Air Locker
Rear Axle: 14-bolt with 4.88 gears and spool
Springs & Such: G-Fab 3-link with Fox coilover shocks (front); Deaver leaf springs and Bilstein 5100 shocks (rear)
Tires & Wheels: 40x13.50R17 Nitto Trail Grapplers on 17x9 Trail Gear Creeperlock beadlock wheels
Steering: Toyota steering box, PSC hydraulic assist ram
Other Stuff: Body shortened 16 inches; FAST EFI; JW Speaker headlights; Smittybilt XRC 10,000 pound winch; Summit Racing Equipment aluminum radiator; custom G-Fab aluminum fan shroud, narrowed grille, and fenders; custom G-Fab rollcage; Driveline Tech driveshafts