Kenny Whittamore from Berea, Kentucky, decided he and his wife Tammy needed a more functional custom ride to haul their two daughters, Alyssa, age 10; and Katie, age 5. In the past, Kenny built early-model pickups that accommodated two occupants; three would have been cramped, and there was no way to stuff two adults and two kids into a pickup cab.
So, the quest began to find an earlymodel fat-fendered Chevy Suburban. After discovering a very rough '50 Suburban, Kenny peeled off four Franklin's out of his wallet for it. He drug it home, only to have it sit for two years. Kenny never did get any inspiration to start the project, so he sold it to a friend. His buddy gave up on it and sold it back to Kenny a couple of years later. At which time, Kenny stuffed it back in the barn where it sat for several years. For some reason, one day Kenny decided to pull it out and build it as a "rat rod." Somewhere along his rat-rod journey, Kenny lost his direction, and in doing so, built this beautiful, custom Suburban.
What separates Kenny's '50 Suburban from others is the unique rear suicide doors that he f
Having built street rods and custom early-model pickups in the past, Kenny did all the work on the Suburban; except for the engine machine work. The project turned into a family and friend affair, with assistance from his dad, Charles, and two best friends, Paul Stewart and J.R. Scenter.
The original frame was boxed using 3/16-inch plate that added both strength and rigidity. The suspension was modified using a '74 AMC Pacer crossmember, upper/lower control arms, and spindles. The front coil springs were pulled out of a '72 Chevelle big-block, then Kenny cut the springs to achieve the 7-inch 'dropped front stance. A pair of Monroe shocks control the vertical oscillation dampening the front suspension. Wilwood disc brakes are responsible for stopping both front and rear wheel rotation. The rear end was pulled out of a '72 Nova and a fresh set of OEM 3.23 gears were stuffed inside the GM 8-1/2-inch pumpkin. The rear suspension is controlled by a five-leaf spring pack and Monroe pneumatic shocks. The 'Burb rolls on a set of American Racing Shelby Cobra 17x8-1/2-inch aluminum wheels in the front, and 17x9-1/2-inch wheels in the rear wrapped in Kumho rubber sized 245/45ZR17 for the front, and 255/50ZR17 for the rear.
To achieve ample horsepower for the fat `Burb, Kenny extracted a '75 400ci small-block out of a local salvage yard. It was then dropped off at Morgan Motors in nearby London, Kentucky, where the engine was disassembled and the block was decked, align-bored .030 over, and the connecting rods were reconditioned. The original 882 cast-iron heads were also machined and reconditioned. The 400's steel crankshaft was ground again and polished .010 under. A set of eight Silvolite .030 over pistons and rings were stuffed into the cylinder bores. A Crane cam with 284/290 duration and 480/494 lift was inserted into the cam bearings. An Edelbrock Victor Jr. intake manifold receives both fuel/air mixture from a Road Demon 725cfm carburetor. The spark energy comes from an Accel coil and distributor that distributes the electric pulse through 8mm Taylor ignition wires. A pair of DynoMax ceramic-coated 1-5/8-inch-diameter headers, with 3-1/2-inch-diameter collectors, flow into a 3-inch DynoMax exhaust and a Super Turbo catalytic converter. Kenny made a pair of 1-1/2x10-inch-diameter stainless steel tips to showcase the custom exhaust work. A TH 350 Turbo transmission was upgraded with a B&M shift kit and 1,800 rpm stall converter. The transmission was linked to the GM 8-1/2-inch rear end with an '85 Ford aluminum driveshaft with GM yokes.