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Inconspicuous 1994 GMC Suburban 4x4

Posted in Project Vehicles on March 1, 2012
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Photographers: Robin Stover

It all started when Tony Lorenzo of Grass Valley, California, bought a GMC Suburban 2500 from a friend for his wife to drive. For two years it was a stock, reliable grocery-getter. Eventually it was replaced by a new car and it was at this point Lorenzo had an epiphany. He decided to build the “ultimate family wheeler” using the Suburban as his foundation.

To Lorenzo, an electrical contractor, the definition of ultimate family wheeler clearly doesn’t mean a flashy, unlimited budget, over-the-top build. What it means to him is taking a massive vehicle that’s capable of hauling a number of people and gobs of gear and modifying it to handle super tough trails. “Once I started, it took only three weeks with the help of WFO Concepts cutting brackets and supplying parts,” Lorenzo says.

Since the whirlwind garage buildup, the big, flexy Suburban has successfully negotiated a variety of tough trails usually dominated by short-wheelbase rigs. “It’s amazing the looks you get from people when you’re on Fordyce or Rubicon,” he says of the long-wheelbase SUV.

The exterior of the Suburban gives little indication of the trucks true capabilities. Modifications are minimal, but functional. Up front it sports a garage-fabbed Baja-style bumper/skidplate made from 1¾-inch, 0.120-inch-wall material. It holds a trio of Kragen Auto Parts-sourced 7-inch-diameter HID lights to help illuminate the trail at night. Hidden behind the bumper is a Warn 8,000-pound winch in case Lorenzo gets the Suburban in too deep (Lorenzo was in the midst of finishing the winch install when we photographed the truck and hadn’t installed the fairlead yet). Protecting the lengthy rocker panel real estate is a set of Lorenzo-fabbed rock sliders made from 2-inch by 4-inch, 0.250-inch-wall material. The Suburban rolls on 40x13.50 Goodyear MT/R tires mounted to 17x9 Pro Comp steel wheels.

The Details
Owner/Hometown: Tony Lorenzo, Grass Valley, California
Vehicle/Model: 1994 GMC Suburban 2500
Estimated value: $30,000
Type: GM 454ci V-8
Aspiration: TBI, custom exhaust w/Magnaflow muffler
Output, hp/torque (estimated): 300/300
Transmission: 4L80E
Transfer case: Atlas 3.8:1, 2-spd
Front: Chevy ½-ton leaf springs, Rancho RS9000XL shocks
Rear: Leaf springs, WFO Concepts shackle flip kit and torque arm, Rancho RS9000XL shocks
Front: Ford Dana 60, PSC steering box, WFO Concepts high-steer arms, drag link and tie rod/ARB Air Locker
Rear: GM 14-bolt/ARB Air Locker
Ring and pinion: Sierra Gear 5.38:1
Wheels: 17x8 Pro Comp steel
Tires: 40x13.50R17LT Goodyear MT/R

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