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Custom Chevrolet Suburban - Urban Gorilla

How Else Are You Going To Take The Whole Neighborhood For A Ride?

Joe Greeves
Jan 1, 2006
Photographers: Joe Greeves
Photo 2/12   |   custom Chevrolet Suburban drivers Side View
If your first reaction, after seeing this truck was "wow," you're not alone. The sheer size of this 10-door, lifted 4x4 Suburban, rolling along quite nicely under its own power, while holding most of the neighborhood inside, makes this mega-cruiser the center of attention wherever it goes. Your next question might be, "Why?" Of course, the answer is because you're reading about it right now. Creating a project vehicle to publicize a shop is one of the best ways to acquaint potential customers with the talents of the team.
How does anyone get started with such a grand scheme? Shop owner Mark Bowen and the crew at Bowen's Collision Center, in Lawrenceville, Georgia, have built lots of innovative vehicles over the years but decided to pull out all the stops with their latest creation. Mark's dream for many years has been to create something so radical that it would draw attention to the business. Combining the awesome talents of his staff with some financial help from his father-in-law, Jim Tarrant, who lovingly refers to the truck as "My 401k." Mark began rounding up the three different Suburbans to be used in the "stretch."
Photo 3/12   |   custom Chevrolet Suburban rear View
Here's how the mile-long body was constructed. Look carefully and you will see that only the first two doors are actual front doors. All the rest are back doors. The front section of the truck uses both the front and rear doors from the first Suburban, cut just behind the back doors. To create the rear of the truck, they used the portion of the second Suburban from the rear doors back to the rear hatch. The third Suburban donated the middle set of rear doors. Once all the bodies were cut, the team-with the help of Chessar's Auto Emporium-began welding all three sections together. As work was progressing on the body, the frame and suspension experts began creating their individual segments, with Mark ensuring everything came together properly.
Jeff Warner had the daunting task of creating a chassis to support the super-stretch Sub. Beginning with the original 2WD frame, the team cut off the front and rear suspension and, after locking both portions in a jig, began fabricating the center section that joined both halves together. After multiple trips to Home Depot for tubing and hardware, the welders began implementing Warner's design. Every tube was carefully cut, welded in place, ground smooth, and painted. A Dana 60 was installed in the rear, and a Corporation 10-bolt front end-soon to be replaced with a matching Dana 60-gets the power to both ends. Bilstein nitrogen-filled, reservoir shock absorbers, two per tire, were incorporated into the suspension, which boasts 20 inches of lift. Super Lift springs were augmented with additional leaves, and the team re-arched the springs for even more height. The huge 44-inch-high Boggers are 19-1/2 inches wide and are fitted to 16-1/2-inch Weld wheels. The aggressive tread is guaranteed to provide traction in even the roughest terrain.
Since big trucks need really big motors, motivation for the beast comes from the ZZ572 crate motor that smartly moves the truck along. Rick Hannah and Carl Leach got the beast running. With more than 620 hp on tap, the triple-length Suburban only gets 3 mpg, but an awful lot of people can enjoy the ride. Luckily, Mark installed a 40-gallon gas tank.
Inside, the upholstery was accomplished by Korey Puckett, and all eight seats, flamed headliner, and flamed door panels match beautifully. Barry Wood handled the flamed window tinting on all ten windows. Mark sprayed his own paint using a pure, Transtar mixing red, a color chosen by his wife, Bridget.
The process took approximately 2 years, from start to finish, but now that it is complete, the main priority is having fun. Mark has taken the truck to school, so that his 9-year-old daughter, Brooke, and her friends can enjoy the ride. He has also done birthday parties, and it was the hit of the prom season. The big-baller crosses all demographics, appealing to young and old alike. Plans include some subtle graphics, maybe shaving the multiple door handles, modifying the suspension to incorporate airbags, and a few other challenges that Mark has in store for his crew. Special thanks go to the Bowen's crew members, as well as Mark's wife Bridget for being so supportive during the 2-year build process.
THE 411

Owner/hometown: Mark Bowen / Monroe, Georgia

Year/make/model: Three Chevrolet Suburbans, including '94, '96, and '98

Engine/drivetrain: 572 V-8 crate engine / 850 Demon carburetor / Hooker Super Competition 3-inch exhaust / Flowmaster mufflers / Hughes Performance Turbo 400 transmission and transfer case / Dana 60 rearend / Corporation 10-bolt front differential

Wheels/tires: 16.5x14-inch Weld Scorpio / 44-inch-high Super Swamper Boggers

Suspension:The original two-wheel-drive frame was extended 6 feet and converted to four-wheel drive with 20 inches of lift / custom ladder bars locate the axles / eight Bilstein reservoir nitrogen-powered shocks

Fabricators: The crew at Bowen's Collision Center in Lawrenceville, Georgia

Body Mods: Goodmark hood, grille shell, grille insert, bumpers, and rear roll pan /APC taillights / three bodies joined together as one, with 10 functional doors

Paintwork: Transtar Pure Mixing Red sprayed by Bowen's Collision

Interior: Eight matching bucket seats with an open center aisle to the rear / grayflames in the door panels and headliner

Upholsterer: Korey Puckett, in Buford, Georgia

Audio/video: Under construction


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