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1992-2000 Chevrolet Suburban Cummins Diesel - Schoolburb

Posted in Project Vehicles on May 1, 2005
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We're not positive, but we get the feeling that Drew Barber doesn't like being around lots of people. It's not that he is mean or aloof; it's more that his truck is perfect for getting away from everyone for a few days or weeks. Drew works for Avalanche Engineering and has been the main fabricator for many of its well known buggies including the Sniper, Assassin, and the famous BFG Karnivore. But when it comes to his family truck, Drew is not interested in a tube car built to climb vertical cliffs. He would rather have a place for his wife Nadine, dog, and kid to ride as they go exploring deep into the backwoods and desolate two tracks of southwest Colorado. And then keep exploring for many days on end. Drew and Nadine originally had an '87 Chevy Suburban that had a Cummins and a five-speed manual swapped in it, but years of abuse had that truck getting ragged around the edges, and they were ready to build a new ultimate camping rig. Drew knew he still wanted a Cummins diesel, but he decided to make some upgrades over his previous rig for more power and comfort. What he ended with had us drooling and jealous of the road trips both on- and off-road that the Barbers could take.

Drew decided that he would start with the newer '92-'00 body style and began looking for a good candidate. He eventually found a bright yellow Suburban that had done short-bus duty for an elementary school in the northeast, and since his old rig was also yellow, he felt it was a perfect applicant. Then he started the process of building his new rig by collecting parts and taking measurements. Since Drew builds frames and chassis for a living he felt it only appropriate that this new 'Burb have a custom chassis built from 6x2x11/48-inch rectangular tubing. Within this chassis he dropped a '97 Cummins 5.9L from a Dodge pickup. Since he knew this rig wasn't going to stay very light, he addressed the engine first and installed a dual-stage turbo system on the oil burner capable of 70 psi of boost. He hasn't had the truck officially dynoed, but estimates around 1,000 lb-ft of torque getting to the ground...yes, 1,000! After our photo shoot we took a ride in this little bus and all we could only say was, "Wow, that's frickin' cool!"

Tech SpecsEngine: Six-cylinder Cummins diesel, 5.9L with two-stage turboTransmission: 47RE overdrive automatic with stage 3 ATS rebuild and ATS triple-lock torque converterTransfer Case: NP205Front Axle: Dana 60, 3.73 gears with ARB Air LockerRear Axle: Dana 80, 3.73 gears with ARB Air LockerTires & Wheels: BFGoodrich 37x12.50-17 All-Terrains on Walker Evans bead locksSuspension: Spring-over stock Suburban, 60-inch rear spring in front, and stock 31/44-ton Chevy 62-inch leaf springs in rear. Sway-a-way 211/42-inch RaceRunner shocks.

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