Sam Adam’s 1989 GMC Suburban

So this clean Suburban didn’t literally belong to a guy named Sam Adams, but it did belong to a guy named Jim Koch who founded the famous Boston-based brewing company. Jim Koch was the first owner of this 1989 GMC Suburban, which shows a mere 31,560 miles on the clock. These are becoming increasingly desirable as old 4x4s in general ride a wave of popularity. Find this Suburban here on eBay with an asking price of $32,500. 

How important is the modest celebrity ownership? Not very, if you ask me. So let’s take this Suburban for what it is: a well-optioned survivor that may be one of the lowest mileage examples in existence.

Mr. Koch kept it simple inside, sticking with cloth interior surfaces instead of leather or vinyl. The interior looks mint, with a clean dash and wood dash inlays still presenting nicely. The matching blue carpets may be too much for some but it’s entirely appropriate for the era. The seller notes that there’s still plastic covering on the carpets and that the seating surfaces “….has the glycerin sheen to the fabric.” I’m not sure I’ve ever seen those words in an eBay listing before!

The Suburban is outfitted with the desirable 454 V8 big block V8. This appeared later in the lineup as option, next to the 350 and 6.2L diesel. This Suburban is listed with the option to submit a best offer, though the seller says he’s been approached by more than one auction house that said it should bring close to $40K. I’m not sure the market will bear a $40K vintage Suburban yet, but should you be hunting for one, perhaps Mr. Koch’s would be worth a look.


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  1. jdjonesdr

    How can they say “Not sure if the Suburban has been totally painted?” You’d think they’d know it if had been painted or not.

  2. Jeff

    Still seems high for an ’89. I just bought a similarly optioned clean ’99 for $7k and that was the more desirable 3/4T. Mine was higher mileage, sure, but I have trouble seeing an extra $25K in value here over mine, especially considering the trans is probably the ’80’s non-overdrive one that makes 10mpg downhill. I might conddider that money for a ’69.

  3. Ronald G Bajorek jr

    2 wheel drive

    Like 1
  4. Rock On

    I think that you would have to consume plenty of Samuel Adams best to bid $40K on this.

    • Yoopermike

      Rock on, been there myself.


    I had the twin to this car except I had a bench seat. I ordered it new, but it was actually my least favorite Suburban of the 5, I have owned. I had a problem with “spring wrap up ” as the dealer called it, but that was more common with 1/2 ton not the 3/4 ton or 2500’s. Many times coming to a stop at a traffic light, a second or so later, you could feel the rear end realign itself. Again, the dealer hadn’t experienced that with the 8600 lb gvw Subs like mine. I lived with it for 3 years and ordered, a 92 big block 3/4 ton and ran that 200,000 miles. I’m sure my trouble with my 89 was unique, but real. I think I paid less than 25k for it new. Don’t really feel like this unit is worth the kind of money they are asking. No matter who owned it. It’s cherry, no question, but definitely not a very desired year. Again just my 2 cents

    • Mark

      Being in the car service biz, I think what you describe as spring wrap up is the driveshaft yoke finally slipping into the trans when the rear diff rotates and comes to rest. Some good grease on the inner spline will take care of that.

      • Gregwnc

        Agreed. No question this is a nice unit. I owned an ’89 a few years back and it was a great truck. The problem with this one is you can’t pay this kind of money and use it. You’d have to let it remain a garage queen. For $30k? Nope.

  6. Coventrycat

    If I’m going to spend 30k for a utility vehicle,it’s going to be way newer than this GMC. Once you start putting the miles on it it’s just another old truck. It is nice – no argument there – but it’s still 29 years old, and nobody is going to give a hoot about the previous owner.

  7. angliagt angliagt Member

    Maybe you get a lifetime supply of Sam Adams beer.

  8. JimmyJ

    At least 25k too much.
    who cares who owned it?
    How do people ask these insane prices? I just about fell over!
    My daily is a 93 gmc 2500 4×4 5.7 5 speed with 50k original miles so I guess it must be worth 35-40k? JK😄
    I’d be happy with 6 grand!

  9. JW

    The older 4×4 prices are ridiculous, they are just older 4×4’s nothing special.

  10. Mountainwoodiegi

    You’d have to drink a lot of Sam Adams to make this make sense .

  11. Alan

    I have 2011 Yukon Denali I bought used with 29K original miles its beautiful and everything but I must admit I have weak spot for older GM full size Suvs like this Overpriced all original 89 Suburban 4WD with 454! I will pay 20K anyday for it!

  12. Adam

    This seller is full of crap. This suburban was for sale in Ohio for $6,500 a few weeks back with no claims of any connectivity to Jim Koch. He bought it from a dealer and that selling dealer could not provide any proof of previous ownership when I inquired to that dealer before this “flipped” took possession and made claims of said Jim Koch ownership and put a ridiculous price tag on it.

  13. jw454

    He seems to go on at length about how great it would be to own this incredible piece of history. If that’s true, why does he want to sell it?
    If it’s that great, he should put it in a building and charge people to come in and ogle it. Why not??? Oh! That’s right! Nobody cares!!!!

  14. fahrvergnugen

    How many horses on tap?

  15. Matt

    VIN search on Google shows the listing Adam mentioned. I guess it’s our privilege to ask what we want for a vehicle, but this seems a bit far fetched.

  16. Stang1968

    Unless you’re an alcoholic or a beer connoisseur, I don’t think this Jim Koch guy has the gravitas behind him for the vehicle to be referred to as celebrity owned…

  17. Jack Quantrill

    We had one, but with the 350 engine. Ran great, but small motor and small rear end couldn’t handle towing heavy loads. Burnt up the trans and rear end. Otherwise, a fine vehicle! The 454. with truck rear end is what you want.

  18. Gay Car Nut

    Sweet looking GMC Suburban. I’ve always liked this generation Suburban, between 1989-92. The only thing I’d do if I could afford one is switch out the 454 cu. in. engine and either install a 6.5 litre turbocharged Detroit Diesel, or the latest version of the 6.6 litre Duramax Diesel.

  19. chad

    Only 5 or six seats (no 3rd row), a 4WD w/running bds (1 or the other, plez), no diesel, and the PO history R all price lowering for me. Doesn’t fit my specific application…

    But Mr. Koch & I have met on the sail powered ocean racing circuit and he is a fine gent!

    Great “car” 4 some 1…

  20. Todd Zuercher

    I’ve heard Jim doing Sam Adams radio ads for years.

    As others noted, this isn’t a 4wd so asking price is way too high.

  21. Pete in PA

    Cannot see ANY way this ‘burb is worth 32k+. Absurd, just absurd. It’s nice but the best 1989 was not all that, well, nice…

    • Alan

      V true Pete now its worth zero to me. As on my earlier post I like these All original with 454 and 4WD but I see now its only normal 2WD version!!! For me when I see older GMC trucks the automatic link to floor mounted 4WD shifter always there!

  22. K Cater

    I’d suggest fact checking the claim this is a 4WD with the 454, the big block reported here as being available late in the model year. I could not order a 1990 4WD 454, only the 5.7 or diesel could be had, I went with a 2WD in order to get the big block in my Suburban.

  23. Jim

    It doesn’t justify their asking price…. unless it’s including several truck loads of beer!

  24. Alan

    just found this beautiful 96 3/4 ton Suburban with 454 engine & 4WD with low 46K miles. asking 24K!!

  25. Dave M

    I don’t think it would be worth $32k even if Elvis owned it!

  26. Brakeservo

    The fact that at least one auction house mentioned a $40,000 figure only shows the depths of deceit some auction companies will stoop to get consignments – ask me about my experience with Rustle & Steal, er, oops, I mean Russo and Steal!

  27. Canadian Mark S. Eh! Member

    Not a 4×4 back then they still had leaf sprung straight axles with manually locking hubs that stuck out through the hub caps. Nice enough truck but it will have a 3 speed turbo 400 trans. And about 12 miles to the gallon. I’d put its value at about 8 to 10k on a good day.

  28. JBD

    Looks like a scam! Maybe one of many cars owned by a celeb. Proof of ownership may go a long way. Still a $10k max truck!

  29. Leman H. Wilson

    I sold my 1994 Chevy Suburban that had every amenity from the factory on it for the grand total of $2800.00 and it had only 80,000 miles on it.So what is it that justifies $32,500.00 for basically the same vehicle with half the miles on it.

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