Since their beginning in 1935, the Chevrolet Suburban was always the “people hauler” of General Motors commercial fleet of trucks. They were designed to carry more weight on rough roads than was the passenger car station wagon. While trucks were carrying freight from the time of their purchase, Suburban’s were reserved for passengers! It became an immediate success with the military, as a school bus on smaller rural routes, for transporting people from train and bus stations to hotels, etc.
After WWII, the Advance Design Suburban body design (introduced in 1947) began to attract more individual owners for family transportation needs. To better provide this with limited expense, General Motors added just a few extras for appearance. This was tan rubber floor mats and a two tone painted interior. Neither was like what was on the pickup or large trucks.
The Suburban interior colors are Pecan Brown and Wicker Brown. This all harmonized with the brown headliner, floor mat and seat upholstery. All makes a nice interior package with little extra expense to GM.
The following should help the restorer have an even a better idea of the 1947-53 Advance Design Suburban when new. Photos are of a 1953 untouched Suburban that was left with original paint and used as a fire department ambulance in Lamont, Illinois. Photos taken about 2005 after being bought from the city of Lamont.
Because General Motors always kept production cost as low as possible on truck related models, they designed the Suburban on the pre-existing 1/2 ton pickup chassis as well as using the same sheet metal on its doors, front end, and dash. To dress up the body for passengers, GM added these extra appearance features not found on their trucks. Though these additions were nice, they were still a long way from the appointments on the cars and station wagons being sold in the same dealerships.
The door panel frames and removable interior window trim of the 1947-53 are a shade darker, Wicker Brown as in photo E. Even the seat frames were also this darker brown, photo f. The seat upholstery is brown Spanish grain while trucks in 1947-1953 were maroon. The cardboard door panels match the seat texture and color. The tan floor mats and red brown door windlace colors are Suburban only.
The lighter Pecan Brown was placed on the body sheet metal that became part of the total assembly. This is inner quarter panels, doors, dash, tailgate or double doors, and front seat riser. All was painted at one time after being welded together as a single unit. See Photos.
One very different touch on the Suburban over the truck is the color of the seven horizontal ridges on their 1947-1951 dash. Note picture A and B. These ridges are the color of the darker interior trim. Photo C shows the truck (not Suburban) dash ridges which were silver to closely match the upper and lower dash horizontal stainless.
By 1952-1953 the dash stainless had been exchanged for painted steel due to Korean War shortages. Then both the Suburban and truck dashes were without contrasting colors but still kept overall interior coloring. See photo D.
In 1954-1955 the Suburban and truck body shared a new redesigned dash panel and the interior body colors were also changed. The two body styles now used the same pearl beige color on their interior metal. A medium brown Spanish grain vinyl was on the seats of both body styles. Contrasting color interior window frames were not on the 1954-1955 Suburban as seen on earlier Advance Design models. They were the color of the main body panels.
If you have decided to restore your rare early Advance Design Suburban as it left the factory, these tips can separate the men from the boys in serious judging. To some it may be just as important for the daily driver.
Photo A (above)
Photo B (above)
Photo C (above)
Photo D (above)
Two Tone Door Panel (above)
Photo E (above)
Photo F (above)