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1972 GMC 2500 Suburban - Sir ’Burban

Is This One Of The Most Awesome Barn Finds Ever?

Ken BrubakerPhotographer, Writer

The Suburban, in production for a staggering 78 years, holds the record as the industry’s longest-running model and the large GM SUV has stomped other would-be competitors who have came and went through the years. A fine example of a classic Suburban is this incredible ’72 GMC 2500 Super Custom model owned by Henrik Hairapetian, proprietor of GM Truck Center and World Famous 4x4 in Burbank, California.

Hairapetian had always wanted a ’72-or-older Suburban. As luck would have it, a forest ranger friend told him of an 87-year-old man who lives in the mountains above Los Angeles who had a “GMC 4x4 of some sort.” Hairapetian procured the man’s phone number and set up a visit. Hairapetian tells the story:

Yep, that’s the original Sunflower Yellow ’72-vintage GM paint. Those are also the factory door handles, badging, and trim. The only body modifications that Hairapetian made to the truck was to remove the large factory mirrors (they got in the way during off-road travel) and replace them with correct-for-the-year standard mirrors. He also every-so-slightly trimmed the front and rear fenders so the large 37x12.50R16 Interco Super Swamper SSR tires can travel without body contact. Do you dig those old school wheels? They’re mid-’70s factory 16x7.5 GM steelies that have been powdercoated white and fitted with GMC hubcaps from a ’70 GMC pickup truck. The front hubcaps have been bored out for the Mile Marker manual hubs. On top of the rig is a period-correct, out-of-production Con-Ferr roof rack that measures 4 feet wide by 6 feet long by 6 inches tall. It holds a Hi-Lift Jack, spare tire, CB antenna, recovery tools, fire extinguisher, four PIAA front-facing lights, a duo of PIAA square rear-facing lights.

“After getting lost twice and almost going down the side of a cliff, I finally came to this small house, which was overshadowed with a huge shed/storage building. After a not-so-happy greeting from the old man he hesitantly let me back to the huge shed and opened the door. He fumbled around for a while in the dark until he found this massive cartoon-style lever which he had to grab with two hands to throw the lever up to turn the lights on. Once the lights came on I found myself standing in front of an all original ’72 GMC ¾-ton four-wheel drive with all original paint. It was exactly as I had dreamed it would be. I heard church-type music in the background and the thought of a bright glowing light behind the truck followed by white doves flying out of the back of it.

Immediately I knew there was no way I would ever paint this rig. It had the perfect patina,

“After promising the old guy that I wouldn’t cut it up and trash it, a basically no-negotiation deal was struck and the truck was mine. The next day a few crew members and I showed up with extraction gear and fresh fluids and a battery. Just as I had suspected, the old battleship started right up.”

With the Suburban back at his shop, Hairapetian made a decision. “Immediately I knew there was no way I would ever paint this rig. It had the perfect patina,” he says. A plan was put in motion that would keep the trucks body and interior as close to original as possible to keep his promise to the old guy. “To keep it realistic and something most people would relate to, we decided to stick with old school technology with a touch of modern parts,” he notes. And that’s how the awesome truck came to be what you see here.

What’s next for the Suburban? Hairapetian says that future plans include “hosing it off when it gets dusty.”

Under the hood is the factory-stock 350ci V-8 engine. This engine only has about 66,000 miles on it and Hairapetian reports that it runs great. As it was in 1972, it’s topped with a four-barrel Rochester Quadrajet carburetor. The only performance mod to the engine is to flip the top of the factory air cleaner housing upside-down (old timers will remember this trick, which returned dubious performance but sounded good under load). The engine is cooled by the factory three-row radiator, and exhaust gases are routed through the stock diameter exhaust tubing and through a three-chamber Flowmaster muffler.

At A Glance
General
Vehicle: ’72 GMC Suburban 2500 Super Custom
Owner: Henrik Hairapetian
Stomping grounds: Burbank, California
Build time: 6 months

Drivetrain
Engine: 350ci Chevy V-8, Rochester Quadrajet carburetor
Transmission: NV4500
Transfer case(s): NP205
Low range ratio(s): 1.96:1
Crawl ratio(s): 50:1
Front axle/differential: Dana 60, Fab Fours diff cover /4.56 gears, modified Dana Power Lok
Rear axle/differential: GM 14-bolt, Fab Fours diff cover/4.56 gears, Detroit Locker

Suspension
Front: Custom leaf springs, GM Truck Center hangers, Offroad Design greasable shackles, Skyjacker shocks
Rear: Custom 64-in leaf springs, Offroad Design shackle flip, Skyjacker shocks
Steering: Power, World Famous 4x4 high-steer

Wheels/Tires
Tires: LT37x12.50R16 Interco Super Swamper SSR
Wheels: 16x7.5 stock steel

Miscellaneous
Armor: Custom front bumper, custom rear bumper
Cool stuff: Original paint, custom roof rack, Warn 9.5ti winch