Clamshell Tailgate: 1970 GMC Suburban

Original paint can be a blessing and a curse. In some cases, it’s simply too rough to ever look good, no matter how much buffing you do. Other times, it’s weathered just to the point of being acceptable, with plenty of color left in the original base coat. This 1970 GMC Suburban falls into the latter category, and it’s offered here on eBay with a Buy-It-Now of $14,900. 

Now, close to 15K is no bargain, but the seller feels he’s priced this a bit under the market, calling it a “winter priced, rare family hotrod.” Hotrod, eh? I suppose with a recent crate engine 350 installed, it might run out a bit quicker than expected, but with the horsepower your average Honda Odyssey is pumping out these days, I’m not sure it’d outrun the mom in the minivan in the next lane! But one advantage the next owner will always have is in the style department. Modern crossovers can’t touch this ‘Burban.

The seller calls the seats original, but I’m not sure if that extends to the upholstery. It looks way too nice for that. Still, the combination of gently weathered original paint with a super clean interior and modern running gear is tough to beat. Plus, with three rows of seating, this Suburban really can function as a modern family truckster. The seller points out that the rear tailgate is the clamshell variety, which I suppose is more desirable for opening and closing.

The chrome looks more than presentable as well, and the truck retains its original soft-ray tinted glass. It’s also been lowered 3 inches, giving the Suburban an aggressive stance that I personally dig. If you could make this work as a daily driver for bringing the kids to school, going to work, doing the groceries, etc., etc. – well, I would applaud you for doing so. But then again, as these old-school ‘Burbans get harder and harder to find, you may want to keep this one away from parking lots and distracted drivers. How would you use it?

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Comments

  1. Howard A Member

    Wait a sec, this is a GMC, not a Chevy, although, by this time, about the only difference was the grill. From what I remember with the old mans Suburbans, the “clamshell” tailgates were much more popular than the “barn door” style. Someone replaced that stupid steering wheel, which, I always thought was too big. Very rare these days, most were used until folks literally fell out the bottom. Great find, here for a large family, which, it was originally intended, the biggest station wagon you could buy.

    • Jeff Staff

      Yikes – pre-coffee posting, never good. Updated. Thanks for the keen eye, Howard.

  2. dirtyharry

    I am a big fan of older Burb’s. They tow well and made a great vehicle for getting a boat and your friends to the lake. In our case, that was 300 miles from LA to the Colorado River. Not having to deal with a lot of rust and the engine upgrade, make this interesting. You really could just leave this as-is and just use it without concern for cosmetics. My last one (an 88) had front and rear A/C and would freeze you in the desert, on a 105 degree day. I found the Barn doors much easier to live with. You don’t need to reach over a tailgate to get in the back and you could open the doors with a trailer hitched. I still think the 3 passenger door arrangement on these is weird. I don’t see anything more than 8-9k here.

  3. Bingo

    What does it mean when an “engine runs out good”?

    • CapNemo

      Runs out of gas?

    • Clinton

      That comment falls into the same category as the following:

      “Has been setting up for years”
      “Tires have plenty of thread”
      “Rims have curve rash”

      If I see ads with any of the above it drives me nuts.

      • Warren

        “Needs restored”

      • Gurn b

        There is nothing better than original paint. No matter what the condition. Original is original. Repainted is aftermarket. Anybody with a check book can repainted. This truck rocks

    • Howard A Member

      Hi Bingo, sounds like a regional dialect, like “title in hand”, or “needs restored”. I’ve heard old timers use that phrase.

      • RS

        How about ‘Title in envelope in drawer’.

  4. Rex Kahrs Member

    Very nice looking truck. I like the tailgate, it’s like a pickup truck with a cap on it. First thing I’d do is find a correct steering wheel!

  5. Martin Sparkes

    If that was a Blazer/jimmy and not a suburban (carryall suburban I think the GMC’s were called) you could add 10 k to the price and get it.

  6. geomechs geomechs Member

    This one could definitely go to my place. I’d use it as a driver for a long time before considering a respray. I’m not fussy about the crate engine; I’d prefer the original pre-smogger complete with dorky stock air cleaner and the snorkel. I worked on plenty of them and had them running pretty well. Out performed by an ‘Idiocy?’ I’d never know. I have to put a paper sack over my head before I get into one of those type of minivans; I certainly don’t want anyone to recognize me in one. The Burb will do just fine!!!!

  7. JW

    The Suburbans and Trucks of the 67 to 72 GM offerings were some of the best looking on the market and this is from a Ford truck guy. I would love this Suburban but would prefer the barn door style tailgate and I would use as is for quite awhile before painting it.

  8. Joe Haska

    A very nice looking car, it could be really cool. Besides the steering wheel change the radiator hose, its TERRIBLE!

  9. Doug Towsley

    Aww memories! Our family bought one of these new in 1972. Came from Gresham Oregon right off the lot on Powell Blvd. I still remember that and the sales guy in the plaid sport jacket. He gave me a plastic Corvette dealer toy car (Probably to shut me up as I was a obnoxious kid). Ours was a mustard yellow-Pumpkin Orangeish shade. (Hard to describe) We had the Chevy version. The other poster is correct. Basically a light duty pickup with a cap on it. motor was 350 v8 and T350 trans. Ran great, reliable simple to work on and a great vehicle. We had the same rear doors as this and worked out great for us. I recall a few drive in movies in it as well. We had a small farm and hauled baby calves, goats, Hay and lots and lots of kids. Back seat was removable.
    I am shocked at the prices these get now. Who knew? But wish they still made them like this as I bet they would sell a ton of them. My Dad bought another one in the 1980s while I was off in the military but no where near as good. By then they started loading them down with tons of crap. I had a friend a couple years ago pick up a mid 60s version and I liked that one even better.

    • Neal

      Hey there, Doug! Shout out to you and your Gresham memories. My wife grew up there, right down the street from the Ford dealership.
      I grew up with a ’79 Scout. Smaller but worked for us in the East.

      • Doug Towsley

        Hey Neal! Funny small world isnt it? Family moved out to the Columbia river gorge in 1970, Springdale & Corbett. The dealership was right there where Powell curves and meets into Burnside and resumes being hwy 26.
        There was a Bowling alley there, several motorcycle shops and several dealerships there. I think the Ford dealership just shut down and relocated. I will have to look next time I am over there. Back in the 1970s there was not a lot of people or businesses there but it sure filled in these days.
        Back around 1990-91 during the bubble of collector car prices I showed my Dad a magazine article and prices for Chevelles and other high end cars.
        *IF* we had spent a little more and bought a optioned Chevelle with all the hot rod stuff I showed him how much they are worth vs the Suburban that we bought.
        If only we had a Chrystal ball eh? Of course I would have drove the piss out of the Chevelle sooner or later, but its a nice idea of how much money we could have made if we kept it pristine. While I was overseas in the military my mom traded in that suburban for pennies on the dollar. My parents were divorced by then, but my Dad was sure mad about it. Looks like that Suburban was something we should have kept. She traded it and another car in on a 1980s Dodge Omni or some other sh*t box that promptly fell apart. Wonder where that Suburban ever ended up?

  10. CapNemo

    I’m no expert, but to me that price seems way, way too high. I could be wrong. Now if it was four wheel drive and barn doors and a big block then MAYBE. Nice truck tho!

  11. KevinW

    I own three suburbans. I’m a musician and prefer the barn doors for loading in the heavier stuff. With that said, I would love to own this one too! It’s pretty amazing how much you can cram in one of these, especially if you Tetris it all in.

    • Howard A Member

      Hi Kevin, the “barn doors” were pretty much reserved for panels ( 1970, apparently, was the last year for a Chevy panel truck), and ambulances. In the late 60’s, before paramedics, Milwaukee Police used these to transport patients to the hospital. Chances of survival were iffy, at best. ( after a quick stop at Dunkin Donuts) The old man’s 2nd Suburban was a ’67 ex-police ambulance. It was pretty tired, but had a lot of extra HD police stuff, and barn doors. http://www.methownet.com/grist/features/images/aeromet_oldphoto.jpg

  12. glenn

    id put a clearcoat on it and have it as a daily driver i trhink its really great

  13. Sir_burban

    I just finished this 1969 K5, peculiar options, original paint, 88K miles, red over red vinyl. Tastefully upgraded, but a barn find it is not. What do you guys think?

  14. Sir_burban

    Sorry, here’s the truck.

    • JW

      Nice, I like that generation of Blazers.

  15. stillrunners stillrunners Member

    Pricey one there….think I’ll hang on to my beater with the replacement crate motor and clam shell ? tail gate ?……..

  16. Jubjub

    Cool truck. Not a big fan of the suspension drop or the wide rims with wheelcovers. So cliché, at least one clapped out, lowered early Suburban at any given swap meet at the booth of some troll totally convinced his junk is pure gold.

  17. Rustytech Member

    I like this. It would be the perfect hauler for taking the family, including the grand kids to the lake, and have plenty of room for all the needed gear. It’s overprice for the condition it’s in though.

  18. Chuck Foster 55chevy Chuck F Chas Foster

    I like this truck, it’s even resale red, if it was worth $15k it would be gone now though. I have a 71 or 2 Chevy 3 door burb, no engine or tranny, got it with a basket case 70 short bed for $1,000, sold most of the short bed parts for around $1,000 so I guess it’s not bad for free, although it is almost too rusted to ever be worth much other than a beater.

  19. RS

    For the same price I’d take this Scout II in a heartbeat… I don’t care that it’s repainted, it’s awesome inside and out. And the music the of the timing GEARS on a cold start is so sweet…. I had a few of these Scouts and miss them all.

    • Neal

      I follow those Scout listings religiously. Had my eye on that one too. As soon as I hit the lottery, I’m heading to Atlanta and driving one home. Someone down there has a nice business restoring and reselling those Scouts down there! Always sweet listings.
      If the image comes through, here is the Scout that I grew up with.

      • Neal

        Trying my Scout photo again.
        Seems like I have a hard time posting photos on this site. Any tips? Maybe my files are too big?

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