Seventies Survivor: 1978 Chevrolet Suburban

Like many of my generation, I have fond memories of the Chevy Suburban. The natural choice for everything from camping trips to the morning school run, it was the workhorse of the suburbs, the SUV that checked things off the daily list. This 1978 model, located in Calgary, Alberta, is up for auction here on eBay. At the time of writing, bidding has reached $7,900, US, with a little over three days left to go.

Originally introduced in 1935, the Chevrolet Suburban– then known as the Carryall Suburban– is a strong contender for the first sports-utility vehicle, especially when one considers that in the current usage the term does not necessarily imply four-wheel drive capabilities. Pairing a station wagon body with the frame of a 1/2-ton truck, it was large enough for the whole family plus gear and was such a success that a version has appeared with each successive generation of Chevrolet pickup.

This example is from the first generation with to have a four-door configuration and wears top-of-the-line Silverado trim. Though no one would ever describe a Suburban as sporty, it’s equipped with the 454 cubic inch V8, making 240 horsepower– which should be plenty for light towing duties. Front and rear bench seats, automatic transmission, and air conditioning round out the options on this garage-kept beauty. Though the seller is quick to note the lack of documentation, he shares his conviction that the 24,641 miles on the odometer is accurate, and given the state of the interior and engine bay, it’s not hard to see why. Maybe it’s just my memories of spilled beverages and missing cassette tapes, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen the inside of a Suburban so clean.

The seller states that this particular vehicle was purchased by an older couple who used it primarily to take the grandkids camping, and it definitely seems to have been well-cared-for. Ordinarily one would expect a Suburban to be purchased to be used in some way that aligns with its original purpose, whether that be hauling kids or equipment. But this one is just… nice. Can there be such a thing as an investment-grade Suburban?


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  1. PJ

    the blue accents in the interior are throwing me off. looks like some pieces are from another vehicle. Was this truck ordered this way?

    Like 1
  2. Terrry

    Uh..what’s with the blue steering column and wheel?? Something’s fishy here.

  3. SkipCar

    Is it really blue? I think it’s black with bad lighting. This brings back memories. My family had a ’79 Suburban 1/2 ton with the Silverado package in the same colors as this Suburban. Ours wasn’t quite as nice inside (we had vinyl seats). Incidentally, ours had a black steering wheel, so that’s why I think the image colors are just bad lighting. But, ours was a great family vehicle. We put well over 200K on the odometer and towed a 24′ Prowler travel trailer all over the southeastern USA. I still have fond memories of traveling in our Suburban.

    Like 4
  4. Rbig18

    I agree that steering area is actually black. Just bad lighting. But the passenger kick panel area is definitely blue.

    Like 2
  5. nlpnt

    The thing I like about Suburbans of this era is that a fully-optioned-out top of the line Suburban was exactly as plush as a fully-optioned-out top of the line Chevette and not one whit more. (The only comfort/luxury option for the ‘burb that didn’t have a T-car equivalent was the rear air conditioner, which would be unnecessary in a small car anyway.) If you wanted a really plush hauler the salesman would show you a Caprice Classic wagon (or a Custom Cruiser in this one’s case since most Chevy dealers in Canada were dualed with Olds).

    A base Suburban was considerably more colorful than a military troop carrier, with it’s plaid-printed pattern on the all-vinyl bench seat, but not really any comfier.

    Like 2
    • Nelson Cypher

      And cruise control, power steering, locks and windows. Tape deck radio. Also, the premium trims had another inch of foam in the bench seat. These are more than the humble carryall name suggest.

  6. CatieH

    This is beautiful. The only blue in this vehicle is the garbage can. The lighting in the pictures is not great. Sometimes men of a certain age (sorry, no criticism intended) have a harder time discerning colours when they are mixed with others. My husband sometimes has to get my opinion on colours. We had one almost identical to this when our boys were young. Ours had the extra row of seats and wasn’t in as good shape as this one. They are great for hauling the family and numerous friends and pets.

    Like 1
  7. Tm

    The steering wheel column could have been replaced from grandpa grabbing the steering wheel getting in and the tilt feature eventually broke, maybe, maybe not?

  8. KARL Kriegh

    I once owned a 1978 in same color combination from 1992 to 1998. That Suburban had a 350 4 bolt with an Endlebrock manifold, 4 barrel carb, headers,4 speed on the floor, low end rear, and dual exhaust.(no converter either). What fun that truck was. Replaced the the moter with another 350 4 bolt once. Ran it up to over 250,000 miles on that truck. Dated my future wife back then in it. Chevy rust took over and had to sell it due exhaust fumes were overcoming while driveing. Switch over to a 1974 Cadillac Sedan Deville that is another story..

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