1966 Chevrolet Suburban: Ready for Defense


Not long ago, we featured a 1974 Chevy C20 that had seen limited use as part of a town fire department’s fleet of brush-fire fighting vehicles. I thought it’d be impossible to top that for all-things cool about municipal vehicles, but this 1966 Chevy Suburban here on eBay with an opening bid of $10,000 has won me over. It’s from a small area in Polk County, Georgia, and has been there all of its life – accumulating only 6,423 miles! At first, I thought the body looked a little beat up for such low mileage, but the interior panels tell the story here. Unmarked, clean, and reflecting the low usage, the seller notes that “Civil Defense” vehicles became a normal sight in the nuclear era, when threats of an attack warranted vehicles that could go anywhere and were laden with radios and other communications devices, as well as the heavy-duty factory winch as seen on this example. The price of entry here is high, but what an interesting centerpiece to any collection – I’d love to own it.


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  1. Jason

    Official Zombie Apocalypse Vehicle

  2. Dave Wright

    This is a GMC originally fitted with V6, probably a 305. Trucks in these years had more differences between Chevrolet and GMC than most people think. GMC used more Pontiac and commercial parts than chev did.

  3. grant

    Big boat anchor V6, BUT a SBC will go in without a lot of drama at all, along with a TH350 so its an easy basis for a sweet hot rod Suburban. We have been rolling around in a modern Suburban for a few years now and the wife loves it, (4 kids) but it would be really cool to do this up with the 3rd row seat, put it in the weeds and a nice clean paint job, maybe a pearl white with a ghost flame going back…unfortunately 10k to start out? There are others out there for way less so it doesn’t make much sense unless you are really that turned on by the low mileage. Keep in mind that its still a 50 year old municipal vehicle.

  4. Dave Wright

    Not as easy to change out as you think. The bell housings are different, so, if you are changing the transmission as well……might be a bit simpler. I am helping my buddy with a local shop replace the 305 in a long family owned pickup with a worn out engine. We found it much simpler to simply replace the engine with a good used original V6 than any other option. These are really good engines, forged cranks, sodium valves, tons of power. The only real downside is fuel economy and a small block will run at higher RPM possibly making it a bit more tractable on the highway. These were available with a 5 speed overdrive, 2 speed rear ends as well as auxillery transmissions new, so it is about the ratios. This was one of the last gas real truck motors GM built with the possible exception of the 366.

  5. JW

    Lovin it, I would leave just as is for car shows and strictly use it for that, gas mileage no issue and I would even leave the dents. Heck I would even try to find a old civil defense uniform for real nostalgia.

  6. RickyM

    Totally agree with JW – looks brilliant just as is. Only downside is the high cost and Reserve not met. Nice to see some clear photographs. Particularly love the dash with all the wires and switches. Amused me to see the spelling mistakes in the text ! Great vehicle and nice find.

  7. Howard A Member

    While this is a really cool piece, I find it hard to believe it has 6,000 miles, but regardless, a piece of history, that has all us baby boomers, running for cover under our school desks.( remember?) I’m sure there are young people who don’t even know what “Civil Defense” was. As far as the V-6, this was probably one of the best motors to come down the pike. It powered everything from pickups to semi’s to stationary applications. And just think, if they ever open up those Nike missile silos, you’ll be ready to pick up where we left off.

    • Dave Wright

      This V6 was also the basis for the GMC V 12 gas used in missile transporters and other large pieces of equipment. I think they were 702 cubic inches, used a single block but 4 cylinder heads, exhaust manifolds, 2 intakes and carbs. Today there is a company rebuilding them for use in hotrods. I think it would be way cool in a rod. They are not even that heavy.

      • Howard A Member

        Hi Dave, the 702 “twin six” was a really cool motor, but fell short when it came to powering a semi, which diesel’s were fast becoming the engine of choice. It was kind of a last gasp with a gas motor, for people who didn’t want a diesel, but they found out quickly, it burned twice as much fuel as a diesel and had less power. I have seen these motors in rat rods, not many. Good luck finding one. (not sure if links are ok) http://www.ssrfanatic.com/forum/attachments/f6/119471d1344778230-702-cu-twin-six-v12-gmc-truck4.jpg

      • Dave Wright

        The Air Force had a lot of them. They were used in missile transporters. There is a company in Ohio (or there a outs) that makes hot rod engines with them and claims to have them on the shelf. I scraped several of the transporters that had them…….probably all went to the smelter. Off course I have always had diesels except in the very beginning of my truck company when I had some real gas truck engines, like 549 internationals and Reo Gold Comets, but the emphasis shifter from gas to diesel fuel in the 50’s in this country. The Germans were mostly diesel in there industrial world by WW2 when we were still using gas in our tanks…….ours would go up like a match head when hit but there’s were more difficult to make burn. The Germans even built diesel and liquified coal aircraft engines. I think these big V6 and V12 GMC’s were about the last real American built truck or industrial engines. Modern spark ignited heavy engines are retrofitted from Diesels mostly for use with natural gas. Again like the Germans did in the 50’s and 60’s using diesels to modify back into gas burners in some of there small cars. Diesel off course has more power available in a gallon of fuel than gas does when properly managed but the original sales pitch was because the fuel was cheaper. My old Gas semis would get 1 1/2 MPG and not pull as hard as a diesel.

  8. steve

    I’m gonna have to call BS on the 6k mile part. Too rough for that. Cool truck but too much h money for condition. I’m not too keen on the hacked wiring either. Notice the u see dash shot where they stripped and spliced a wire then wrapped with electrical tape…the gmc v6 was all low rpm torque. My dad tells me about my uncle who had one in a lwb stepside with a granny low four speed. They would go out to the pasture to feed cows and he would put it in low and lit idle along, step out on the step and throw hay while it idled along, no one driving.

    • Jason

      “They would go out to the pasture to feed cows and he would put it in low and lit idle along, step out on the step and throw hay while it idled along, no one driving.”

      Dems were the days!


    Gotta agree that the miles seem incorrect. Maybe the speedo is (or was) in-op. The interior may reflect low mileage but looking under the dash lots of rigging and also in engine bay. The pedals, engine and chassis look very used up. Wheel cylinders shot too. Looks like the comunity who owned it hardly maintained it. If the miles are somehow correct this thing has had a very UN Civil life!

    The rig sitting on a trailer with #23 on the windshield tells me she was just purchased at auction. The seller in a rush to flip it didn’t take the time to unload it let alone remove the junk in the cargo area. Think he should do a little more then take pics to command that $10K starting price.

  10. Frank Thompson

    Never knew Chevy made Trucks,,using G.M.C. grilles

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