Rare 4-Speed: 1976 Chevrolet Suburban

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At first, this looks like another decent Chevrolet Suburban, certainly a respectable driver but nothing that necessarily makes you stop in your tracks. But here’s what sets it apart: it has a four-speed manual, a feature I can’t recall seeing in any of the ‘Burbans we’ve recently featured. This truck also comes with the 350 V8 featuring a four-barrel carb and the 12-bolt rear end. It’s missing some parts and has some rust, but overall, it looks like a fun project. Find it here on eBay with bids to just over $1,500 and the reserve unmet.

The Suburban is located in Montana, and comes with the Custom Deluxe trim. It’s certainly original, with somewhat tired two-tone paint and white painted bumpers that have seen some love taps in their day (well, not really in the front, as it has those giant bumper overriders.) The seller notes it’s mostly rust-free as it should be for the high plains, but it does have some corrosion issues to sort out, specifically in the front fenders and rear quarters. The seller also notes there are holes in the roof from the original roof rack, and it does make sense to simply raid a junkyard Suburban for another one.

I believe the Custom Deluxe package got you this fancy plaid trim, but power features weren’t exactly standard equipment at this point, so you’re rolling up your own windows. The seller notes that while the Suburban may have left the factory with a third-row seat, someone has previously removed it, undoubtedly to become a sweet couch or garage chair. The interior looks decent overall, with the first and second row benches not showing any significant damage. The dash does have some cracks but nothing major. Both that and the rear seat could also likely be pillaged from a local junkyard with older vehicles.

The four-speed really is a trip to see in a rig like this, and I’d be sorely tempted to add some Flowmasters and catch a few folks by surprise at a stoplight when they catch me power shifting. OK, it likely won’t be that impressive, but it’s fun to imagine. The seller claims the Suburban runs out pretty well, with good oil pressure and no overheating issues. There is no water in the oil or oil in the water, and the engine doesn’t emit any smoke or blow-by. Overall, this is a truck you can simply get in and use, right now, while slowly picking away at the bodywork to keep it preserved for the long haul.

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  1. Moparman MoparmanMember

    This is SO cool! I’d fix the body, spruce up the interior: seat covers, carpet, replace the painted bumpers with chrome ones and enjoy this! GLWTA! :-)

    Like 6
  2. geomechs geomechsMember

    Not many of these around. ALL of the Burbs we sold had at least A-C and the Scottsdale trim if nothing else. No manual transmissions from our lot. I actually like this unit although I would’ve preferred A-C because these can turn into an Easy-Bake Oven in the heat of summer. But no-frills is a good thing. Rust is no major issue but then in Montana there is very little salt used on the roads so a clean truck is easy to come by.

    Like 7
  3. Gaspumpchas

    Non existant in the rust belt. Would be great to just spruce up and drive. Worked on a few with the 4 speed, great trucks and would pull down a house. Sad to see these things return to nature right quick in the 70’s here in New yawk. Good luck to the new owner. Sweet truck!!

    Like 3
  4. Rhett

    The shift lever looks a lot like the Low-1-2-3 tranny’s we had in the 1 ton chassis. Definitely a truck transmission, there’ll be no power shifting with one of those. Probably part of a tow package here, the low gear was good for a walking pace at most. The most notable things about them are #1 – It was really a 3 speed transmission in practical use , #2 -You could pop the front wheels of a Holmes bodied wrecker off the ground with a good hi-RPM clutch dump in Low gear (even with a very heavy push bar bumper) and #3 -You only needed the clutch to get it into first gear. After that, you could do rev matching upshifts and downshifts like a proper truck, no clutch required.

    Like 7
    • Wiiliam Hall

      You really only need a clutch for starting and stopping. It just takes a bit of practice to shift with no clutch even a downshift.

      Like 1
  5. nlpnt

    Starting in ’75 the Custom Deluxe was the base model, for the pickups as well as the ‘Burban. Plaid pattern on the vinyl brightened up many a base work truck.

    Granny-low 4 speed was itself an option, 3 on the tree was listed as standard on these. My dad had a ’79 pickup so equipped, on a Suburban that’s probably even rarer than the 4 speed.

    Like 3
  6. Richard Holmes

    Loved my ’74 454, but my neighbors hated it–the body sucked the oxygen out of the air for miles around.

    Like 2
  7. Stevieg

    Nice clean truck (especially compared to one this vintage in Milwaukee). I would love to get something like this. Notta lotta value here, so I hope whoever buys it appreciates it for what it is & doesn’t treat it as a beater.

    Like 1

    What the heck is that fan mounted to the passengers’ side quarter panel? I have to disagree with the seller; 15″ wheels suit this truck just fine. Though I suspect it may not have left the factory with a 4-speed, and it has a voracious appetite for gasoline, I like it a lot. Very tempting!

    Like 0
    • Stevieg

      Just curiosity, and I am not saying you are wrong, but why do you think this was not a factory 4 speed? What did you see that I missed?

      Like 0
      • AMFMSW

        It’s just conjecture. I don’t recall that I’ve ever seen a square-body Suburban with a manual transmission (however, I did spend most of my life in California). Without knowing where to find reliable production figures, I think it’s a safe bet that by 1973, few people had their Suburbans so equipped. The best way to know for sure is to view the glovebox sticker. Shame the seller didn’t post a photo of it.

        Like 0
      • Stevieg

        I agree that a shot of the glovebox sticker would have been nice. I don’t know that I would condemn the seller for that. They might not be a gear head, and might not know any better.
        I had a friend that had one of these with a 3 on the tree, around this era. His dad bought it new. That one was original (and oddly pristine for a Wisconsin truck), so that was my first experience with a 3 pedal Suburban. I have seen a number of these with this same 4 speed too, some even 4 wheel drive. That was available up until they changed to the next generation body style in the early 1990’s.
        Some readers will probably pipe in and say the Chevy truck body style changed in 1988, and it did. But don’t forget that GM kept this body style going for a couple more years in their Suburban, K5 Blazer & their cab & chassis & mid to heavy duty truck lines.
        Wow! I feel like a nerd lol.
        Anyhow, without seeing the tag in the glove box, we don’t know for sure. It very well could be a conversion. I thought it would be kind of neat to do that type of conversion on a first generation Dodge Durango. Parts are readily available using Dodge Dakota parts. I am just not ambitious enough to actually search out the parts & do the work lol.
        Happy 4th of July to all Americans!

        Like 0
  9. Wiiliam Hall

    The 15 ” is what would have been from the factory on 10 series GM Truck. As for the 4 speed. It would have been an option even on a suburban. There are ways to make it a bit more economical. Of course this would cost a few $$$.

    Like 0
  10. Doug

    My K-10 is a few years older ( 1968 ) and it came with the “granny” 4 speed & a 350. It has 15″ wheels, with 33 x1250-15 tires. I upgraded to a ’78 front axle assembly & power disc brakes, and installed the biggest 1/2 ton rear brakes we could fit to overcome the rotational mass of the tires. Before the upgrade it was ” Stand on the brakes with both feet and PRAY to get her stopped. One cool thing you can do with these is to install a “camper carpet kit” like they offer for pickups, with the boxes that go around the wheel arches, and carpeted plywood to fit between the boxes to make a bed. You can also set it upo with an extra piece if carpeted plywood tho fill th egap behind the 2nd seat if you decide to fold the seat forward. makes about a 9 foot long bed between the folded seat and the rear doors/tailgate. Nice for camping.

    Like 0
  11. GCSMember

    I like it. These are all rusted away here in the east. The 4 Speed makes it for me. I hope it goes to a good home that can keep it dry…

    Like 0
  12. andreas

    Does anyone know how that rear heater works? I’ve actually never seen one of those in a suburban.

    Like 0
  13. Mitchell RossMember

    With that granny low, you can put a super high rear end ratio in it and it’s like an overdrive and would be better for modern speeds that most old cars

    Like 0
  14. Mark

    My 1990 Burb has a factory rear heater kinda crude how it works, just has simple heater core mounted right rear on floor fan internal with core, and low/high speed settings

    Like 0

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