Low-mileage 1952 Suburban ambulance is begging to be resuscitated
Thanks to Barnfinds.com, we’ve been dreaming about the various ways this 1952 GMC Suburban could be brought back to life after its spent 50 years stashed away in a barn. For sale on eBay in Womelsdorf, Pennsylvania, the former military ambulance has a Buy-it-Now price of $15,500 and has garnered a few bids thus far.
Photos of the Suburban’s body show there’s lots of rust on the floorboards that would require serious fabrication or, at the least, some welding skill. A quick check on parts availability shows that firewall, front floorboards, and kick panels won’t be hard to come by, and there appear to be several sources of other sheet metal stampings, but there are sure to be some panels that are specific to Suburban that would be hard to find. Thankfully, plenty of the ’Burb’s body appears to be solid.
Unfortunately, there’s not much information on the drivetrain, other than it’s not currently running, but it may have just 8000 total miles. If that’s the case, this could be a great project to get freshened up and running without requiring a major teardown. This big wagon could be back under its own power after some new hoses and gaskets, a tune-up, and a carb rebuild, provided the 50 years of sitting hasn’t taken too much of a toll.
Hagerty doesn’t currently have a valuation listing for a 1952 GMC Suburban; the closest we could find was a 1952 Chevrolet Suburban half-ton. While Chevy and GMC have differentiated their pickup and SUV models more and more in the last few generations, back in the ’50s, Chevy and GMC models looked nearly identical on the outside. Where they differed was under the hood, where this GMC should have used a 228-cubic-inch, 100-hp, inline six as opposed to Chevrolet’s 92-hp Thriftmaster 216, which was a different engine family entirely.
Out of curiosity, we checked the wheelbase of the 1947–55 Suburban and found that it’s 116 inches. Coincidentally, that’s the exact same wheelbase used by the Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon for three straight generations from 2000–20. There are probably a few of those sitting at a junkyard near you with a wrecked body but a perfectly good V-8 drivetrain and modern chassis, eager to have new life under a classic Suburban body.
So, how would you build this ’52 Suburban? There’s plenty of space under that big hood for just about any powerplant you could want, so almost anything is on the table if the factory inline six isn’t your cup of tea. Does the prospect of getting a low-mileage, 70-year-old workhorse back on the road appeal to you, or are your gears turning for something more modified?