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Emerging Classic: 1994 GMC Suburban

Year after year, the GMC Suburban ranks high on the lists of government officials, suburban housewives and rental car companies as a vehicle worth owning. However, the older models harken back to a more utilitarian era when big SUVs presented more than a few challenges of ownership but their outright capabilities made them worth the cost of entry. This 1994 GMC Suburban here on eBay is a beefy-looking survivor with faded paint but otherwise in good condition. 

The gray steel wheels, plastic center caps and fender flares all combine to give the ‘Burban the impression it could be a stunt double for an ATF agent’s vehicle. Newly redesigned for the 1992 model year, this model represents the domestic Suburban’s mid-tier LS trim in three-quarter ton form. Despite representing a major refresh of the line, this eight generation model is far closer to the original in spirit given it offers relatively few creature comforts and remains focused on hauling a good quantity of people with little obstacles in its path.

Bench seats made these early SUVs a popular choice for school bus drivers and the like. No airbags nor center console, two features modern people-carriers can’t do without cramming multiples of in every available orifice. The crank windows and lack of technology wizardry is a reminder that SUVs didn’t used to be rolling WiFi hotspots and entertainment districts – nope, you’d actually have to talk to each other. Given its importance on the automotive landscape, is the Suburban a potential collector’s item – especially survivors like this one?

Power came from the familiar 5.7L small block, getting the Suburban to hit 60 in just under ten seconds. The ultimate ‘Burban from a collectibility standpoint is one spec’d with the optional 7.4L big block, but we’d argue one in nine-passenger form and completely stock is right up there as well. Let’s face it: SUVs are here to stay, and vehicles like the Suburban and Toyota’s Land Cruiser made if fashionable to drive a truck to the country club. Bidding is under $5K at the moment, with the reserve unmet.

Comments

  1. BRAKTRCR Member

    A Suburban, is usually a large investment used, and a huge investment new. From my experience, either is worth it, although no way could i afford one new today at $70 grand. Great vehicles, easy to work on, lousy gas mileage. I have had 5 of them, and regretted selling my 95, the moment it left my driveway. I have currently an 01, with an 8.1 , 4wd and cloth interior. Took me two years to find it, it’s exactly what I wanted. Likely my kids will have to get rid of it when my wife and are gone. Don’t think I have ever been so content with a vehicle before. Love it, 9 mpg and all

    Like 2
  2. Nrg8

    “Top of the line” in the first sentence in the discription.

    Like 1
    • DayDreamBeliever Alan (Michigan)

      “The factory paint finish has a nice shine and looks great! There are minor nicks, chips, dings, minor dents, clear coat peeling and scratches, etc…”

      Eh, “Minor Clear Coat Peeling”?
      My eyes must be deceiving me….
      I do wonder if a buff and re-clear might produce good results.

      And as mentioned, this is a stripper version. Zero luxury, all work-oriented.
      These are usually found used up by contractors, or government agencies.

      Like 1
  3. ChevyTruckGuy

    This would be the “bare bones” version of the 1994 GMC Suburban, which is SL trim, not LS. Note the rubber floor, crank windows, vinyl upholstery, etc. Though it is the K2500 version (4X4, three-quarter ton). Plus handy dual doors (instead of the drop-style tailgate), and three-row seating. Nice work truck for those that need to haul passengers and cargo, plus tow heavy loads. Looks to have plenty of life left in her!!

    Like 2
    • BRAKTRCR Member

      Always preferred this front end to the “busier” 4 light front ends. Just looks cleaner to me

      Like 2
      • Henry Drake

        That single headlight version always said….stripped down work truck…..to me. Fine if that is what you want, but never considered this a more desirable look, as neither did GM.

        Like 1
  4. Fred w.

    No need for air bags in most accidents with this Suburban. Just belt yourself in and wait for the other vehicle to destroy itself.

    Like 2
  5. Canadian Mark S. Eh!

    Cool old truck, this will have throttle body injection and a 700r transmission. These plain Jane trucks were a great way to go easy to keep clean,rugged, and simple to work on. With the the 700r these were good for about 18/20 mpg.

    Like 2
  6. Todd Zuercher

    I really like this gen of Chevys. So simple and yet good stuff like the reliable throttle body EFI. This one has hydroboost too – another bonus.

    Like 1
  7. Warren

    My buddy bought one of these, ex ATF vehicle out of California. 454/4×4 same level of trim as this but black. Pulls into my driveway with it and from the 2nd floor I could see it still had the giant ATF decal on the roof. Great car trailer hauler.

    Like 1
  8. Kevin Lee

    These have been the best trucks for me, being a musician. If you Tetris a load in, it will haul an amazing amount of back line and PA equipment, and never have the back bumper dragging. I have an ’89 2wd and a ’98 4wd, 3/4 ton.

    Like 3
  9. jdjonesdr

    I’ve got a 2 dr. Blazer K1500 and I love it. The prices on these babies are going up every day.
    I don’t think mine is going to be sold very soon unless somebody offers me a LOT of moolah for it. Great truck.

  10. James W.

    I am a big fan of pretty much any pre-2007.5 suburban. I love to see this generation getting some good recognition. Even though its a lower trim I still love it. Most of that generation of Suburbans and Silverados/Sierras are rusted away way up in the salt belt where I am. Loved the writing in the article and it was a pleasant treat to see this truck pop up as the first thing I see when I logged on to the site today. Keep these sweet Suburbans coming!

    Like 2
  11. DB

    Being so plain, I wonder if it started as a rental (Enterprise, etc) or government (GSA) vehicle?

    Like 1
  12. Road dogs

    I’ve also had 5 of these since the mid 1980s. This one looks like my ’99 SLT with the 454. These were the best to bumper pull a horse trailer. Hated to let it go at 300k miles, but it was worn out. The only one I had bought new, garaged all it life.
    Each one I’ve liked less than the one before. Have an ’06 K1500 as I don’t haul horses anymore. The one featured makes me miss what they once were..

    Like 3
  13. Roger kramer

    I bought a 2004 GMC 8.1L 2500 4×4 for a song and I love it. Great rig for working on the property. I can load it with 8 people and drag a large loaded dump trailer with ease. Besides gas all it needs is routine maintenance.
    About as bullet proof as they get. Wouldn’t sell it for 10x what I paid for it.
    It gave me 12 mpg at 80 mph with front and rear AC on full blast on a trip to San Francisco. Today’s equivalent would cost $90k, and still not get much better mileage.

    Like 2
  14. geomechs geomechs Member

    These were nice vehicles! The TBI system was fairly simple and easy to maintain, and when you open the hood, you can actually see an engine in the bay. If this would’ve been for sale last year I would have bought it but I picked up an ’02 Tahoe in about the same shape. Sure could’ve used the extra space….

    Like 1
  15. Lawyer George

    Alan, I have a peeling Ford Falcon Ranchero. I asked a body man if I could removed the remaining peeling paint and shoot it with clear and was told no for a variety of reasons I thought valid at the time but don’t recall most of them now. The main caveat is that every single molecule of clear must be removed without disturbing/ scratching the color–a task which is futile. Also the color of the base color will be uneven anyway, because the exposed base color will face the elements which the not-yet-peeled surface surface is still protected from the elements and will not be as sun-damaged as those panels where the peeling is about complete.

    Like 1
    • DayDreamBeliever Alan (Michigan)

      Yea, I hear what you are saying. Still, I wonder if some edge feather-sanding followed by clear would not be a significant improvement over what it looks like now. Perfection would not be the goal, just a reduction in the sunburned appearance.

      Like 3
  16. Danno

    I’ve often thought a Suburban would make the perfect stealth camper. Put a storage container on a roof rack, with access via sunroof panels, block the windows to that light can’t exit while in “camp” mode. Discard the rear seats, and there would be more room back there than many Tokyo apartments.

    Like 1
    • booya

      A weird aunt of mine did just this back in the 1950’s.

  17. Scott

    I had a 95 Chevy bought new with the 6.5 Turbodiesel. I went through 4 electronic control modules for the fuel injection pump. The problem was solved by mounting it away from the pump on a heat sink. Once that was sorted out it was a great engine/truck. Now I have a GMC 3/4 ton 2005 with the 8.1 L V8. This engine is a beast. I tow a 36 foot camper and often pass 1/2 ton pickups with “little” campers on the hills. Wonder if they will ever offer the 2500 chassis on the new ones again. The new ones are only rated for 8000 or so lbs.

    Like 2
  18. Kenny

    Have a 93 Chevy Suburban K1500 4×4 love it rides good gas mileage to and from work people move out of your way. Had transmission rebuilt at 212000 good to go again for at least 100000

    Like 1
  19. Dave Suton

    Driving a toyota to a country club? Sure, when you pull up they’ll direct you to the service entrance.

    Like 1
  20. Rick

    We a 94 GMC suburban,k1500 ,w/350.tbi. We love it. We put a 3in leveling kit in the rear.

    Like 1

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