There are some 4x4s that are so unique they leave you slack-jawed and speechless. This ’92 Chevy Suburban 1500, owned by Doug Hampton of Pagosa Springs, Colorado, is one of those vehicles.
True story: The Suburban spent the early years of its life as a school bus in New York. Obviously those days are long gone and nowadays the rig has been signifcantly modifed with a laundry list of off-road-centric items including Boatec front fenders and a fberglass hood. The lightweight hood is held on with four Autofab hood pins and the fenders are attached with two small bolts and four quarter-turn fasteners. The inner fenders are custom fabricated from aluminum and are also attached with quarter-turn fasteners. The hood and fenders can be removed in about fve minutes. The Chevy grille is a stock unit that has been modifed to ft around the rig’s tube chassis and Warn 16.5ti winch. The tube chassis main rails are made from 6x2-inch, 0.120-inch-wall material and they have 3-inch sleeves welded in to reduce chassis fex. The side bars, bumpers, engine cage, rollcage, and spare tire rack are all integrated together. Other exterior mods include front and rear receiver hitches and a full array of lighting including Pro Comp HID forward-facing, Hella rear-facing, and tractor lights serving as rock lights under the front and rear of the rig. Exterior mods also include a BCFab removable roof rack made from 1x0.83- inch HREW tubing and ¾-inch fattened expanded metal for easy bungee cord use. The roof rack was designed with mounts for a propane tank and fve 2½-gallon rectangular water jugs and the rack is mounted a bit forward on the roof to help center the weight between the rig’s axles (empty, the vehicle’s 8,040-pound weight is split almost equally between the front and rear axles). The Sub rolls on 37x12.50R17 BFG All-Terrain T/A KO tires mounted on 8.5-inch-wide Walker Evans aluminum beadlock wheels. Internal Allen hex-drive lug nuts are used on all the wheels and 1.75-inch aluminum wheel spacers are used to match the track width of the rear axle and to eliminate tire rub at full steering lock.
We met Hampton at this year’s Easter Jeep Safari in Moab, Utah. In a landscape mostly dominated by Jeeps his large Suburban stood out like King Kong in a monkey house. There’s absolutely nothing docile about his rig. Its bright School Bus Yellow paint grabs your attention and mods like the furious, heavily modified twin-turbo Cummins diesel engine hold it hostage. The truck is loaded with fascinating components including some that are a bit unusual.
Owner/Hometown: Doug Hampton/Pagosa Springs, Colorado
Vehicle/Model: 1992 Chevy Suburban 1500
Estimated value: N/A
Type: 5.9L 12-valve Cummins twin-turbo diesel
Aspiration: Fuel injection, K&N intake, HY9 and HT3B turbochargers, custom 5-in-diameter exhaust with Flowmaster muffler
Output, hp/torque (estimated): 500/1000
Transmission: ATS 47RE Stage 3 4-spd auto
Transfer case: NP205 w/JB Conversions 3:1 ratio LoMax gearset
Front: 60-in Deaver Spring long-travel leaf springs, 16-in-travel Sway-A-Way RaceRunner remote-reservoir shocks, modified Currie sway bar
Rear: 63-in Deaver Spring long-travel leaf springs, 10-in-travel Sway-A-Way RaceRunner remote-reservoir shocks, modified Speedway Engineering sway bar
Front: GM Dana 60, 35-spline stub shafts, Warn lockout hubs, Howe hydraulic-assist steering/ARB Air Locker
Rear: Dodge Dana 80/ARB Air Locker
Ring and pinion: 3.73:1
Wheels: 17x8.5 Walker Evans beadlock
Tires: 37x12.50R17 BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO
Under the hood is a potent 12-valve 5.9L Cummins turbodiesel that is said to produce an estimated 500 horsepower and 1,000 lb-ft of torque. Modifications include an ATS Fire Ring cylinder head with 12mm cylinder head studs; Bosch P7100 pump with custom grind fuel stop plate by ATS and 3,400 rpm governor spring set; 300hp ATS injectors; HY9 and HT3B two-stage compound turbos; TiAL Sport wastegate; air-operated 5-inch Pacbrake exhaust brake; and a custom 5-inch-diameter exhaust with Flowmaster muffler. The intercooler is a stock Cummins unit. Keeping the powerplant cool is a custom aluminum 19x39-inch Ron Davis Racing dual-pass radiator fitted with Lincoln Mark VIII dual cooling fans. A thermostat housing from a ’90 Cummins aims the radiator hose to the right. Other underhood mods include a Painless Performance wiring harness, high-mount K&N air filter, and an engine-driven, water-cooled, two-cylinder Bendix gear-drive air compressor from a Freightliner FL60 semi-truck that feeds a pair of 2.5-gallon air tanks. Engine power is routed through an ATS 47RE Stage 3 four-speed automatic transmission. The transmission is controlled by the Chrysler ECM and torque converter lockup is handled by an ATS CoPilot controller that is adjustable while driving. The trans is cooled via a pair of fan-cooled fin-type coolers with stainless braided lines; the fans are controlled automatically by a temperature switch, or they can be activated manually by a switch on the dash. Power is split to the axles by an NP205 transfer case with JB Conversions LoMax 3:1 ratio gearset. A custom linkage was designed so the T-case could be operated by the stock-position shift lever. High Angle Driveline-built driveshafts carry the power to the axles and the front ’shaft is a long-spline unit made from 2.5-inch-diameter, 0.095-inch-wall material and it has a 1350 CV and 1350 U-joint. The rear ’shaft is made from 3-inch-diameter, 0.120-inch-wall material and has 1410 U-joints.