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1987 Custom Chevy Suburban - An Army of One

He Paints, He Shaves, He Rebuilds Transmissions?

Mike Finnegan
May 1, 2006
Photographers: Mike Finnegan, Brandon Burrell
Photo 2/18   |   Click here for more photos, including Web exclusives!
Jason Moellering is no mere mortal man. He's bigger than that. He's better than that. He turned a boring '87 Chevy Suburban into a righthand-drive, suicide-door, bass-bumpin', shaved-up party machine with two rows of leather seating. And he rebuilt the truck's transmission, too. We wish we had a third of the talent this guy has because we know most people are only great at one or two things in life.
Photo 3/18   |   1987Chevrolet Suburban Wheel View
Maybe you can do bodywork but not handle a spray gun. Perhaps, you can lay beautiful beads of weld on a chassis but not work on an engine. Don't feel bad because that is normal. Jason just happens to be a freak that was blessed with more than one gift. He's a paint and body technician for Ford Motor Company who not only threw down the sweet graphics on his truck but also reworked the rear doors to swing in suicide fashion with a factory finish, sculpted in custom door handles, and made sure his truck rolled low by airbagging the suspension himself. What's even scarier here is that Jason built his entire truck at home in a two-car garage in less than two years. It makes us wonder when he finds time to floss.
Photo 4/18   |   1987Chevrolet Suburban Front Grille View
The Suburban was found in 2003 for sale on the side of the road for the meager sum of $1,500. Its body looked worn like any 18-year-old truck would, but thankfully the sheetmetal hadn't suffered the effects of long winters and rust. Jason wanted to build a custom ride he could cruise, rather than tow on a trailer, so he started the buildup by C-notching the rear framerails and replacing the springs at the corners with Firestone airbags. Jason also rebuilt the engine and transmission, so that it was road trip-ready once the project was finished. The engine compartment received custom sheetmetal inner fenderwells to protect the freshly painted and detailed powerplant as well.
Photo 5/18   |   1987Chevrolet Suburban Driver Side View
While he was working under the hood, Jason got the bright idea to perform one mod that would most certainly set his Suburban apart from any others on the field of battle at a truck show. His plan was to convert his ride from lefthand steering to righthand drive. This would require the ultimate level of commitment, since he had to not only rebuild the dash and relocate the steering column and wiring, but also rework the steering system and braking system, and rebuild the firewall. The factory steering box, which was located on the outside of the driver-side framerail was swapped out for a mid-'90s Camaro unit, which is a rack-and-pinion car. In the Camaro, the steering box is located on the inside of the passenger-side framerail, behind the engine crossmember. After fabbing up his own center link, drag link, and tie rod ends, Jason made it all come together. One look at the driving shots of his Suburban hugging the pavement and tucking the lip of the 22s and you'll see the payoff was well worth the effort.
Photo 6/18   |   1987Chevrolet Suburban Driver Side View
Aside from the fact that Jason drives the right side of the road but the wrong side of his vehicle, there are a few other amazing touches that you might not notice at first. The door handles are from a Lincoln LS luxury car, but they don't operate in a normal fashion. If you were to grab any of the handles and attempt to pull open the door of the Suburban, you'd be surprised because the handles don't move. This is because there are a series of buttons on the inside of the handle that pop open the door. Also, if you grab hold of either handle on the rear doors, you'll find that those doors open backward, in suicide fashion.
Usually, we see trucks with suicide doors missing door handles in an effort to make the body smoother, but the LS handles work in perfect aesthetic harmony with the smooth green paint of the 'Burban. We dig homebuilt rides, and this is one of the nicest we've come across. From the clean audio and interior work to the stylish hues that adorn the smooth bodywork, Jason has put together one fine ride. What's more, he's not afraid to drive it either. If you run into him at a show this summer, ask him how many miles he put on the 'Burban during our photo shoot. Jason would like to thank Rob McDowell, Jeff Sellers, and all of his friends that helped out during the buildup.
The 411

Owner/hometown: Jason Moellering/Schererville, Indiana
Year/make/model: '87 Chevy Suburban
Engine/drivetrain: 350-cid small-block bored 0.030 over / Edelbrock intake / Comp Cams camshaft / 2.25-inch custom exhaust / Optima YellowTop battery / MSD 6AL ignition / 700-R4 transmission
Wheels/tires: 22x9.5-inch Eagle Alloys / 265/35R22 Hankook
Suspension: 'Bagged front and rear with Firestone products / Belltech 3-inch drop spindles, with rear flip kit / C-notch, stainless steel air tank and installation by owner / Chassis Tech 1/2-inch solenoid valves / 7-gallon reserve tank / engine-driven air compressor
Fabricator: Jason Moellering
Body Mods: Suicide rear doors / Lincoln LS door handles / fabricated roll pan / shaved drip rails and bumpers / motorized license plate mount / LED taillight / phantom billet grille
Bodywork: Jason Moellering
Custom Paint: DuPont Extreme Green, Silver Mist, and Orange Glow, sprayed by Jason
Interior: '04 GMC Yuko seating / Billet Specialties steering wheel / shaved and painted steering column / functioning rear mount A/C / Hyundai door handles and panel inserts / Auto Meter quad system gauges
Audio/video: Alpine head unit / Myron and Davis DVD player / Flex Vision monitors / JL Audio 12W6 subwoofers / Polk Audio 6.25-inch coaxial speakers / JL Audio 1000/1 and 300/4 amplifiers
Installer: Robb McDowell of St. John, Indiana



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