1988 Suburban new project and new member

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Brad88

Junior Member
Joined
Nov 23, 2019
Posts
6
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5
Location
Phoenix
First Name
Brad
Truck Year
1988
Truck Model
Suburban
Engine Size
350
Hello all, I am a brand new member here. This is my first post. I have been on a few other forums throughout the years (such as thirdgen for Camaros/Firebirds and Ford Truck Enthusiasts) but never on a Chevy truck forum. I may be joining multiple to get the most attention/knowledge dropped on my plan, and any recommendations from those that have gone through it.

I acquired this 1988 Suburban last Monday so I have had it for 6 days. I barely paid anything for it, absolutely zero and I mean zero rust underneath it. Bought it from somebody who has owned it since 1990. The body has one large dent in the passenger front door, and then some small dents here or there but nothing catastrophic. The interior is pretty much toast, but it's all there it appears. I believe it to have some sort of rare conversion package on it, like what Ford did with the centurion package in the 80's/90's. But I'm probably going to post about that in another thread.
I don't actually know much about this platform, other than I've wanted one since I was a teenager. I am very familiar with gen 1 small block Chevy's as I have worked on both mine and my buddy's 3rd gen Camaros, dropped t-5's on them multiple times, and all kinds of stuff. The engine is a 350 TBI. It runs like crap. The PO had a crate engine from Chevy swapped in 9 years ago. No idea on the current mileage. He had a compression test done on the engine a little while back when he had a tune up done and the numbers are about 160 average, so I'm not worried about the condition. Granted I'm currently not planning on keeping the drivetrain, but I do plan on working on it from time to time until I'm ready for the swap. So I will start looking into the issue(s) with the way it runs maybe in the next few weeks. Also subject matter for another post.

I have spent the last few days searching the internet for forums on cummins swaps and haven't found too many square body suburbans swaps, but I assume it's a very similar swap to the trucks, and that's been done quite a bit. And I may have to jump onto a Cummins or Dodge forum for some info but we will see.

My ultimate goal is to do at least 15 MPG, diesel, enough power that if I were towing a light-medium load uphill I can be able to maintain 65 ish MPH and not be super high on EGT's, ZF5 manual from a Ford (unless they put them in something else, but I'm not aware of it), functional good air conditioning (currently has air and has the front/ rear all plumbed and there), probably around 35" tires, power everything, custom or dash swap, obviously reliable, and probably an axle upgrade as well, but not sure what yet. This kind of project is definitely out of my league, as I've never attempted anything close to this, but I have wrenched for many years on cars as a hobby/necessity, and would say my skillset is above average (not gloating, just trying to ballpark my knowledge as to help those who are trying to help me). I have zero welding skills, minimal body work experience, but have done some painting. So I'm probably looking at as much aftermarket help as I can. I figured with so many people doing Cummins swaps out there, there's probably an aftermarket motor mount kit and if there is any type of front end configuration that needs to be swapped. I would prefer to not have to cut the frame and anything else up and get involved in that, and hoping it isn't necessary to fit the 5.9 in there.

Anyways, just looking for guidance and suggestions/recommendations on where to get started. Wouldn't be opposed to other swap ideas either, if enough knowledge can be obtained. Maybe after I get this swap under my belt, I can pioneer one, but I'm not quite ready for that. I have a buddy who put a 7.3 in his 96 bronco and can't believe how much of a different vehicle it has become. It gets almost 20 MPG, probably twice the power, and twice as fast. I'm not looking necessarily to build a drag truck, so I'm not looking for the 1000+ hp club to egg me on. Probably somewhere around 500 HP at the top end, which is pretty high in my opinion. Again, open to suggestions so fire away.
 

Brad88

Junior Member
Joined
Nov 23, 2019
Posts
6
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Location
Phoenix
First Name
Brad
Truck Year
1988
Truck Model
Suburban
Engine Size
350
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I forgot to attach pictures of it. Here it is.
 

Arkansas_V8

Proud Redneck
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Location
Springdale, Arkansas
First Name
Brent
Truck Year
88
Truck Model
V20 Suburban
Engine Size
5.7
Motor Mount Brackets- Pretty sure this swap requires a 1" minimum body lift.
https://www.summitracing.com/parts/sum-7731103?seid=srese1&gclid=CjwKCAiA8ejuBRAaEiwAn-iJ3iY2GvJUGOK6fxr58MmBUT86nLnhDsR_CzjMNn57eyOLk6upss4VNxoCy6AQAvD_BwE

Axles- Dana 60 Front= 2wd steering box for crossover
Full Float 14 bolt rear

@shiftpro we can build this one. Lol

Recommend a shackle flip for the rear. Lifts 4"-
https://www.offroaddesign.com/4-shackle-flip-kit-for-73-up-straight-axle-gm-k5-1-2t-3-4t.html
Some 4" lift springs for the front.

Recommend this dash if you wanna get all custom with it.-
http://diy4x.com/product.php?productid=17682&cat=253&page=1

Gonna need these for the weak steering box area-
https://www.offroaddesign.com/bolt-in-steering-box-brace-for-81-91-gm-4wd-trucks.html
https://www.offroaddesign.com/weld-on-frame-repair-kit-for-73-91-gm-trucks.html
 
Last edited:

Preston

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Location
Mechanicsville VA
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Preston
Truck Year
1983
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k10
Engine Size
350
Welcome to GMSB from Virginia
 

Frankenchevy

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500hp is pretty up there for a 12V Cummins that’s really reliable and gets decent mpg. It'll be a really fun project.
 

animal

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Lee
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c10 silverado
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350ish
:welcome:
 

Brad88

Junior Member
Joined
Nov 23, 2019
Posts
6
Reaction score
5
Location
Phoenix
First Name
Brad
Truck Year
1988
Truck Model
Suburban
Engine Size
350
Motor Mount Brackets- Pretty sure this swap requires a 1" minimum body lift.
https://www.summitracing.com/parts/sum-7731103?seid=srese1&gclid=CjwKCAiA8ejuBRAaEiwAn-iJ3iY2GvJUGOK6fxr58MmBUT86nLnhDsR_CzjMNn57eyOLk6upss4VNxoCy6AQAvD_BwE

Axles- Dana 60 Front= 2wd steering box for crossover
Full Float 14 bolt rear

@shiftpro we can build this one. Lol

Recommend a shackle flip for the rear. Lifts 4"-
https://www.offroaddesign.com/4-shackle-flip-kit-for-73-up-straight-axle-gm-k5-1-2t-3-4t.html
Some 4" lift springs for the front.

Recommend this dash if you wanna get all custom with it.-
http://diy4x.com/product.php?productid=17682&cat=253&page=1

Gonna need these for the weak steering box area-
https://www.offroaddesign.com/bolt-in-steering-box-brace-for-81-91-gm-4wd-trucks.html
https://www.offroaddesign.com/weld-on-frame-repair-kit-for-73-91-gm-trucks.html


Are those motor mounts from summit direct bolt ins to existing motor mount holes?

I am curious about the steering gearbox issue. I recently started seeing stuff about the frame actually cracking because of the gearbox. Never heard about it until this week, but then again, I've never owned anything from this generation.

I already had planned to do somewhere in the neighborhood of a 4-6" lift. It currently looks ultra low to the ground, despite being 4x4 but I don't know how the suspension is on this thing yet.

As far as dashes go, I'm not looking for something like what you linked. That's like a race car look (to me). I'm wanting something along the lines that looks like it could have been factory. Like maybe a newer generation dash swapped in, or maybe even a different truck brand dash swapped in. Or entirely custom but still looks factory-ish. I guess it's hard to explain, but I will develop more thoughts on it as I get serious about that part.

I have no allusions this project is going to be cheap, easy, fast, and have no problems. The opposite of all that is what's true. I wasn't even planning on making an attempt to buy a suburban for the my project until late next year at earliest because of everything I already have going on. But this was completely original, has been romped and abused. Well taken care of for the most part, with a history of it being reliable and regular maintenance, as well as being AZ original. And I paid $1250 for it, which is a steal compared to what people ask for these in the Phoenix area.

All that being said, I'm sure the project itch will be needing to be scratched so it will be hard to resist. For now, I'm just going to clean it up a bit and get it running reliably and maybe put a little money into the mechanics so it's safe and reliable until I start pulling the drive train, whenever that is.
 

Brad88

Junior Member
Joined
Nov 23, 2019
Posts
6
Reaction score
5
Location
Phoenix
First Name
Brad
Truck Year
1988
Truck Model
Suburban
Engine Size
350
500hp is pretty up there for a 12V Cummins that’s really reliable and gets decent mpg. It'll be a really fun project.

Honestly, I kind of just threw a number out there. I had a 2001 3/4 dodge with a 24 valve that I owned for just over 4 years. It never had any problems so I never had to learn anything about it, and I was in the military part of the time, and then straight to working and college full time when I got out so not much time to get into it. So I don't know much about Cummins as far as the really knowledgeable stuff goes. I know 7.3 powerstrokes very well as I've owned a 97 before and now own a 2001 F350 with one. But doing a 7.3 Powerstroke from an electrical stand point is not exactly something I'm excited to explore, not only that, it takes A LOT to crank power out of one, I know from experience. And I know even less about Duramax's.
 

Arkansas_V8

Proud Redneck
Joined
Jul 1, 2019
Posts
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Location
Springdale, Arkansas
First Name
Brent
Truck Year
88
Truck Model
V20 Suburban
Engine Size
5.7
Are those motor mounts from summit direct bolt ins to existing motor mount holes?

I am curious about the steering gearbox issue. I recently started seeing stuff about the frame actually cracking because of the gearbox. Never heard about it until this week, but then again, I've never owned anything from this generation.

I already had planned to do somewhere in the neighborhood of a 4-6" lift. It currently looks ultra low to the ground, despite being 4x4 but I don't know how the suspension is on this thing yet.

As far as dashes go, I'm not looking for something like what you linked. That's like a race car look (to me). I'm wanting something along the lines that looks like it could have been factory. Like maybe a newer generation dash swapped in, or maybe even a different truck brand dash swapped in. Or entirely custom but still looks factory-ish. I guess it's hard to explain, but I will develop more thoughts on it as I get serious about that part.

I have no allusions this project is going to be cheap, easy, fast, and have no problems. The opposite of all that is what's true. I wasn't even planning on making an attempt to buy a suburban for the my project until late next year at earliest because of everything I already have going on. But this was completely original, has been romped and abused. Well taken care of for the most part, with a history of it being reliable and regular maintenance, as well as being AZ original. And I paid $1250 for it, which is a steal compared to what people ask for these in the Phoenix area.

All that being said, I'm sure the project itch will be needing to be scratched so it will be hard to resist. For now, I'm just going to clean it up a bit and get it running reliably and maybe put a little money into the mechanics so it's safe and reliable until I start pulling the drive train, whenever that is.

From what I have read they are bolt in.

The frame just gets tired in the steering area. The weld ins are good if you already have a crack. The bolt in will help prevent a crack.

Whatever route you go with the lift, I suggest ORD zero rates to move the front axle forward- keep it from hitting the rear of the well.
https://www.offroaddesign.com/1-zero-rate-add-a-leaf-kit-2-1-2-wide.html
 

Frankenchevy

Proverbs 16:18
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Square
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CUCV
Engine Size
Small
Honestly, I kind of just threw a number out there. I had a 2001 3/4 dodge with a 24 valve that I owned for just over 4 years. It never had any problems so I never had to learn anything about it, and I was in the military part of the time, and then straight to working and college full time when I got out so not much time to get into it. So I don't know much about Cummins as far as the really knowledgeable stuff goes. I know 7.3 powerstrokes very well as I've owned a 97 before and now own a 2001 F350 with one. But doing a 7.3 Powerstroke from an electrical stand point is not exactly something I'm excited to explore, not only that, it takes A LOT to crank power out of one, I know from experience. And I know even less about Duramax's.
Just for perspective, a 500hp diesel would be 1300-1500 lb-ft of torque.
 

Brad88

Junior Member
Joined
Nov 23, 2019
Posts
6
Reaction score
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Location
Phoenix
First Name
Brad
Truck Year
1988
Truck Model
Suburban
Engine Size
350
Just for perspective, a 500hp diesel would be 1300-1500 lb-ft of torque.

Well my 97 F250 with a 7.3 had probably around about 400 HP with the injectors, turbo, and tuning work I did. I even managed to bend a pushrod once and blew the seals on the HPOP. That truck had way more go than my 2001 24 valve. I'd consider swapping a 7.3 into it, but the Cummins can make the power a little more easily, and get better fuel economy while I'm at it.
 

Brad88

Junior Member
Joined
Nov 23, 2019
Posts
6
Reaction score
5
Location
Phoenix
First Name
Brad
Truck Year
1988
Truck Model
Suburban
Engine Size
350
Suh-weet roll out dude!

Third gen say wut?

:pedobear:

Pix?

The blue one was mine. Think I sold it 2 years ago? These were shortly after I painted it.

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