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Heavy Cruiser? 1959 GMC Suburban

Here at Barn Finds, we see a lot of vehicles with tons of patina. Most of them are cars and pickups, but occasionally we get something a little different, like this cool-looking 1959 GMC Suburban. It’s listed for sale here on eBay with a buy it now price of $8,950, although the seller has opened the listing up for lower offers to be submitted. The Suburban can be found in Santa Teresa, New Mexico.

We’re told that the Suburban is wearing its original paint except for the right and left front fenders which evidently were replaced at some point. The Kansas title dates from 1976 but it had been brought to El Paso to be exported — but that never happened, so now it’s an opportunity for you!

There’s a lot of headroom there! The seller also has let us know that they don’t have either of the two rear seats. However, the good news is that it doesn’t have a lot of rust showing. Of course there’s some, but it’s not the rustbucket that some vintage SUVs are (cough…Scouts…cough).

The underside is pretty much covered with surface rust, but that’s all I see until you get up into the fenders. That’s a little worse. It sure would be easy to work under here!

There’s that missing hubcap! The dash actually looks pretty nice! If you’re not an originality lover, you might want to consider painting the truck the color of the interior; that’s a nice shade of green.

I found it interesting that in this closeup of the serial number plate, you can see that the engine was “certified” to have 200 “gross horsepower” and 171 “net horsepower” but at different RPMs. Anyone got a clue about that? I’d love to know more. The seller states that this is the original engine and that it is a Pontiac V-8, which corresponds with what I was able to find out through research. Note that this is different from the Chevrolet version that used its own small-block V-8. I think this would be a fun vehicle to make safe and drive. We’re told it runs now but smokes. Ready to fix it?


  1. Bultaco

    It’d be fun to bolt in a 389 tri power and Turbo 400. Save the original drivetrain, etc.

    Like 6

    Would that be the 326 engine ( that was really331)? Wow what a fun ride. Obviously, the engine and brakes have to be rebuilt, but after that this could be a fix as you go truck. It definitely needs to stay true to the original drive train, in my opinion.
    As cool as Patina can be, I see it being repainted to it’s original glory. Nice find.

    Like 6
  3. geomechs geomechs Member

    It would be a Pontiac-built 347 powering that beast. Pontiac supplied V8 engines to GMC from ’55 to ’59. GMC started using its own (V6) engines in 1960. I’ve worked on a few of these engines over the years, and they’re well-built. The only thing I do NOT like about them are the pressed-in rocker arm studs that sometimes have a tendency to slide out.

    If this truck came my way it would get the (you guessed it) restoration treatment. I see no reason to change the engine as this one would take you anywhere you wanted to go. I will admit that you could drop in anything up to a 455 and the engine would still look the same in that bay. Pontiac V8s remained pretty basic throughout its run.

    Like 12

      Thanks Geo, your expertise is always appreciated

      Like 3
      • geomechs geomechs Member

        Welcome! Always glad to help out. I always appreciate the help and expertise from the others on this site.

        Like 6
    • local_sheriff

      geomechs; I love to pick up info from you guys that actually worked on these when they were rolling. However; are you sure this is the 347 in a ’59? I thought that was a ’57 only engine? I’ve read ’58/’59 utilized a smaller bore 370 at 336cubes?

      Like 1
      • geomechs geomechs Member

        I think you’re right. GMC originally started using the 288, in ‘55, then upped it to a 316 in ‘56. 347 in ‘57 and they ran that for ‘58 too. 1959 changed to 336. It seems to me that they also went to larger main bearings and a cast crank. I never really liked the cast crank idea. I worked on a couple of 3-tons that managed to crack them.

        Thanks for pointing that out. There are a lot of changes that take place over the years. I guess if you say “60 years” fast enough it doesn’t seem so long ago. But the reality of it all shows that a lot of water has flowed under the bridge…

        Like 6
  4. Mountainwoodie



    Classic. Economy of words. Point well taken. Expect Scout owners to march in a circle outside the BF offices waving placards calling for your head.

    I saw a really sweet 62/63 Suburban recently

    Like 6
    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Palmer Staff

      The sad part is, I really like Scouts. But I don’t like rust…

      Like 2
  5. Matt toni

    Those missing seats run about $1500 each for cores. Bummer

    Like 1
  6. stillrunners

    Nice it survives in not so bad condition – not many like that – priced accordingly.

    Like 1
  7. TimM

    I think I should go west!! There is so much out there that doesn’t need floors and doors and fenders due to rust!!! What a great looking truck!!!

    Like 3

    I think some early GMC’s had Pontiac V8 power , as I recall.

    Like 0
  9. Glenn Schwass Member

    Saw it was sold. That was really sweet. Hope it gets done right.

    Like 0

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