396 Turbo-Jet! 1969 Chevrolet Suburban Custom

The year 1969 was a big one for anyone who wanted to go fast. All domestic auto manufacturers had their instantly recognizable model names like GTO, Cobra Jet, and SS396. And Chevrolet’s SS396 covered the Chevelle, Nova, and Camaro model lines. OK, how about reaching over and covering a utility vehicle too? That’s a bit of a stretch but not beyond the realm of possibility. Let’s examine this 1969 Chevrolet Suburban Custom C10 and I’ll explain further. Discovered cooling its heels in Santa Rosa, California by Pat L., this  Suburban is available, here on craigslist for $29,999.

While Chevrolet’s pickup trucks of this era (Action Line 1967-1972) have quite a following today, it only stands to reason that the Suburban, wearing the same front clip, would have enthusiastic followers too. This example, a two-wheel-drive 1/2 ton version has been sitting for a while but still shows well so its exposure to the elements has probably been limited. There is some obvious surface rust and the seller adds, “all original no accidents or body repairs….has minimal surface rust in spots …” Unfortunately, there are no included images of the single door driver side so I can’t speak comprehensively for this Suburban’s overall aesthetics or condition.

The seller claims, “interior is clean and pristine no ripped seats ..or saggy roof” and that appears to be the case. There are some small splits or tears in the vinyl upholstery but they’re minor. As is often the case, the front seat of this 27K recorded mile (probably 127K) SUV is more worn than the back seat. There appears to be an under-dash A/C unit that has been added (no mention of operability) and I find the radio to be interesting, it’s stamped “GM” above the dial and is unlike any others, usually Delco branded, that I have spied. The instrument panel’s gauges still look clear and bright.

Under the hood is a 310 gross HP 396 CI V8 engine and it is claimed that it “was running good when last parked a few years ago“. Heard that one many times before…Added is, “engine does not start needs carborator (sic) cleaned …..needs to be towed“. Well, the bag over the carburetor and the missing passenger side valve cover tells you something’s up. It doesn’t look like it has been touched in years. A Turbo-Hydramatic automatic transmission gets the engine’s power, when it’s up to it, to the rear wheels.

So, an SS396 truck? No, not even close really. The 396 engine is so closely associated with fast cars it just seems different to find one in a vehicle of such sizeable proportions. But then again, it’s a pretty-good stump puller of a motor so it’s a logical destination for one. Of course, there’s always the price to consider, $30K, what do you think, priced right or not quite?


  1. FordGuy1972 FordGuy1972 Member

    Looks like a fairly nice rig overall but the price seems optimistic. For $30k, it should be in running condition. The missing valve cover indicates a potential mechanical issue that could be costly. If seeking perfection, some rust repair may be needed as well as some interior work along with possible brake, suspension and whatever the 396 will need. If it can be acquired for a lower price, it could be worth restoring but $30k seems too much for it as-is.

    Like 20
  2. Howard A Member

    Oh, what the heck, a tip of the hat to the ol’ 3 door Suburban. It took my old mans abuse better than any previous tow vehicle for our camper trips. Some may remember, the old man went through just about every type of wagon to pull our campers, including an IH Travelall, which was the worst, most with poor results due to his lack of maintenance. It was ultimately the Suburban that enabled us to see this great country, and not from a gas station parking lot. The 3 door, while a novel idea, kept rear passengers from exiting on the street, really was more of a PITA crawling over granny to get out. They made for a good ambulance, as Milwaukee, and many other cities police depts. used these as transport to a hospital before paramedics. Survival was iffy. The old mans 1st Suburban was a police wagon, pretty tired, but his 2nd one, more like this, was a much better truck. It never left us stranded. This truck, I bet has 2 million miles, clearly towed a trailer, and a pile of memories, just like for me.

    Like 3
    • douglas hunt

      I too grew up in the back seat of a 3 door Carryall, dad’s was a 72 blue with white top.
      he took us all over the US in that thing towing a Jayco pop up camper.
      to Colorado to visit his dad and sisters, to Nags Head and Myrtle beach many times…..

      Like 3
  3. Shawn

    30K is way too high for this with so many unknowns on the drivetrain. For that price it doesn’t have to be show quality, but it should be driveable, well serviced, and cleaned up at least.

    Like 8
  4. bone

    No rips in the seats, except where the tears are, and the lower drivers seat section been redone . I’m wondering if the GM radio was from a GMC truck ?

    Like 6
  5. Raymond McLean Member

    The price is way out of line. In the condition it’s in I’d say 15k

    Like 7
  6. Glenn Hilpert

    Would love to see the under carriage since the car is from moisture country, Santa Rosa. Ca.

    Like 2
  7. Mike Languein

    Love my ‘Burban! ’67 C10, 292 6-banger, truck tranny w/grandma low, 3:08 Posi, 38 gal tank, so ugly it’s mother doesn’t love it anymore, not pretty like this ’69 but for the $200 I paid to rescue it from Pick-A-Part in ’91 it’s been hauling me around ANYWHERE I want to go. Daily driver for 31 years and counting. Miles? Haha 😂 3rd drive train currently has about 30 thou. Best 2 bills I ever spent.

    Like 6

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