Part 1: Bumper Beef At Both Ends
Returning to our pages this month is a highly anticipated project rig that generated tons of reader fan mail back in its heyday. Some of you may remember the Project SuperBurb, a powder-blue '72 Chevy Suburban with a white top and enough rust to support a small science experiment. The rig was about half way finished when then-Tech Editor Craig Perronne left Four Wheeler for a different career opportunity. As a result, the rig sat dormant at Perronne's family estate, forgotten for nearly three years, collecting cobwebs, additional corrosion, and a thick layer of dust. Then, as luck would have it, we caught wind of the vehicle's distressed state. We questioned Perronne about the idea of buying the rig with the intent of cleaning it up and finishing the build where it all began. After a brief phone negotiation, a deal was reached, and with jumper cables in hand, we were on our way to Perronne's top-secret Malibu Proving Grounds to retrieve the once-prized SuperBurb.
When we got there, we spent a few minutes looking the rig over. We checked the oil, refilled the tires, and bled the brakes. It appeared as though the passing years hadn't been that hard on the old truck, reconfirming that our purchase had good potential. Prior to hibernation, the body was painted silver, and several sections of sheetmetal, including the hood, front fenders, and inner fenderwells had been replaced with low-buck Chinese-manufactured parts. The lower quarter half of the body had been Line-X'd, and all the little exterior trim pieces, including new door seals, were scattered around inside the cab in place of the original interior. The original puke-green seats were present, but in dire need of a redo.
The complete drivetrain was still intact and looking stout. We knew the three-year-old GM Performance Parts 383 stroker engine had practically no hours on it and would probably fire right up as long as we supplied fresh fuel to it. Three healthy squirts revived the mill, allowing us to move the beast down the driveway and around the corner where our trusty Carson trailer was waiting. We immediately took the vehicle to GM Truck Center in Burbank, California, to map out what we needed to do to get the rig going again. GM Truck Center specializes in restoring early-model GM pickups and SUVs, so naturally the SuperBurb was right at home there. We developed a wish list of parts and equipment we wanted to install on the rig, and turned the owner Henrik Hairapetian loose. We wanted to transform the SuperBurb into an overland adventure rig that could support up to four people for extended trips to remote locations.
The first action item was new front and rear bumpers. GM Truck Center's lead fabricator, Alex Kiss, took on the task, knowing only that we wanted something with extraction points, a winch mount up front, and a retro look that fit. Two weeks later we showed up to find the front bumper three-quarters of the way done. We added our two cents and cut Alex loose. About a month later, we stopped in to check out the progress. Alex was finishing up the front bumper, adding the finishing touches. Read on to see how our custom bumpers came to be.
GM Truck Center fabrication guru Alex Kiss started building the front bumper from scratch using the bare frame ends as a starting point. As you can see, the basic shape resembled something you might find on a desert prerunner. Our approval reassured Kiss that he was on the right track. We know an artist when we see one, so we gave creative control to Kiss and left him with a Warn 8274 to incorporate up front.
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The rear bumper, like the front, is custom made out of 13/4-inch DOM tubing. This simple but effective design matches the front styling and protects the factory sheetmetal. We dig the simple nature of this bumper and appreciate the fact that it allows us to easily integrate a swing-out tire carrier in the future if we desire. We may also add auxiliary back-up lights later on down the road.