Well, the $200 Hauler Chevrolet Suburban is officially dead, and my new tow pig is in the driveway. And they couldn’t be more different. The $200 Hauler was black, the new Suburban is white, which is why we’ve decided to name it Bimbo…aka Project White Bread. It may be the nicest 2004 Suburban on earth, and while it did cost quite a bit more than the $200 Hauler it is amazingly nice and a perfect blank canvas for what we want to do. We had already been talking about getting a nicer, newer truck or SUV, but we were planning to keep the $200 Hauler to build into more of an expedition/chase truck. But after someone decided to crash into it while driving down the road it became clear that this was just not a project we needed to keep chasing. And so we went for a brand new blank canvas.
So here are the specs.
Project White Bread is a 2004 1500 Suburban, 2-wheel drive, 5.3 LS, 4L65e, Grey Leather, Sunroof, Power Everything, and a Lift Gate. Other than 4-wheel drive, which we don’t need, it has every single option you could get on one in 2004. It had 103,000 miles on it when we made the deal, and the seller was the original owner. Oh, and the front seats had just been reupholstered in factory leather, and all the rest of the seats are near mint. It had exactly two dents, one so small as to require a flashlight at night to see it, and the other super small near the gas door. Again, so small as to only be visible to me.
It does have one custom touch though, as the previous owner installed a Billet Grille and Billet Bowtie up front.
The bad thing about it? It’s so clean as to make me uncomfortable driving it! Yeah, it’s that nice. Like can’t haul anything in it that isn’t new. Like I’ll have to buy a shop truck to haul engines and parts. But man it feels good to own something nice! Daphne loves it.
So here is the plan, and the few things we’ve done so far, but there is also going to be an opportunity for you to help us decide what to use on it moving forward.
Our very first modification was to take it down and have the front side windows, and windshield, tinted. We wanted them to match the rear factory tint, which is darker than legal by a touch, but it looks so good we don’t care. We went to acutintPRO in Upland and can’t recommend them highly enough.
There is a reason that acutintPRO has a 5 star rating on YELP, and it’s because Sarkis is one hell of a nice guy and because they do such nice work. It is worth every single penny we paid. The pricing on the site was exactly what I was charged, they have free drinks and snacks, and Sarkis didn’t blink an eye when I asked if I could document the install for the site. I will use them for any other vehicle we need tinted, without question. Go see them.
One of the things that makes this place so nice, for the regular guy on the street, is that they have all the tint displayed so that you can see what it will look like on your vehicle. I spent my teenage years in a glass and tint shop, so I understand all the lingo, but it can be confusing for a lot of people. The term Limo Tint is NOT a real term, but rather slang, and doesn’t tell anything about the tint. Sarkis gives suggestions, explains the legality, and shows you the difference right there in the showroom. While you drink his drinks and eat his snacks. It’s awesome.
And yes we tinted the windshield. It is AMAZING how much difference it makes. The heat coming in is almost nothing, it makes driving in glaring or sun in your eyes situations a ton better, and it also saves the interior and dash from all that UV damage. Well worth the money.
After the tint, we added Bluetooth and Hands Free connectivity to the Sub since it is illegal to use your phone in the car in California anymore without having it solidly mounted in the vehicle. Tap or swipe, that’s all that is allowed in California on a phone while driving, so having voice commands and such is really nice.
Exhaust: We’ll be showing you a complete Flowmaster Exhaust system installation, including before and after dyno testing.
Cold Air Kit: We ordered up a kit from Airaid to provide better filtration and some performance gain with that new exhaust. It will get installed AFTER the exhaust system and we’ll dyno it to see what kind of gains we get.
Debadging: We want all the factory side trim, badging, running boards, etc to be removed. We want the outside to be as plane Jane as possible on Project White Bread so that we can make sure all our other mods look their best.
Lighting: We are hoping to change out all the factory lighting for LEDs that work nicer, are brighter, and look cooler than the stock stuff.
Suspension: This is the part we want most but are having the hardest time deciding on. My heart is leaning towards putting this sucker on Ridetech Air Ride all the way around, and customizing some of the kit so that it can get as low as possible without cutting the floor. My brain and wallet are thinking drop spindles and torsion keys up front, with Ridetech Cool Ride out back will make it ride nice, handle any trailer, and look cool. We’ll see as we move forward with the project.
Wheels and Tires: Again, wheels and tires are a subject of much internal debate. Internal being inside my own head. 20″ or 22″? Aluminum and shiny or steel and smoothie that are painted? Same size all the way around? Staggered fit for big and littles look? The wheel and tire combo does in some ways depend on how much we lower it, but in the rendering you’ll see that we’ve used a 22″ version of the 1980’s factory rally wheels. We’re contemplating big smoothie wheels as well, with factory center caps, and of course a jillion offerings from our friends at Weld. So what to do?
We’ll be doing several renderings and asking for your input when it’s time.
Transmission: The thing we most worry about when comparing towing with our 1500 vs 2500 Suburban is the transmission. To help ensure that our 4L65e will be up to the task, we’re going to be installing a TCI Shift Boss Programmer to make sure we’re shifting under load with enough firmness, line pressure, etc. It’s a simple install that will also make the Sub a bit more fun to drive.
Brakes: The second biggest thing to consider when towing with our 1500 Suburban vs our old 2500 Suburban is the brakes. They are NOT as big as the 2500 brakes, and could becoming a limiting factor during towing especially with bigger wheels and tires. To combat this we’ll be making some brake upgrades to the Suburban that not only look cool but definitively improve braking performance both unloaded and loaded. Win, win.
Interior: Inside we’ll also be swapping all our lighting out for LED bulbs, and we’ll be making some other mods to help with today’s electronics, including power ports, and possibly an inverter. We’ll also be looking at flooring protection with some nice floor mats. We are also considering some additional gauges, maybe some factory cluster customization, etc.
Exterior: Besides lighting, wheels, tires, etc, we’re also thinking about doing some custom pinstriping on this big blank canvas. Our friends Brad King and Tim McColgan are both great graphics, sign, and striping guys so we’re going to let one of both of them loose on this thing and see what coolness they can come up with. We’re thinking the white paint is just begging for some color, so maybe some striping in something bold like orange would be cool. We’ll see.
What else do you want to see us to do the Suburban? It’s so plane and white and such a blank canvas that almost anything goes. We’ve got a pretty good plan and wish list in place, but we’ll just have to see what time and budget allow. We want your suggestions though. Maybe you’ve thought of something we didn’t. Maybe there is something we should address that we haven’t mentioned.
Tell us what you think, and we’ll keep you in the loop as we move forward. And, if you guys participate enough we’ll even ask your opinions and let you help us choose what goes in or on this thing!