Beck Racing Engines 1947 Chevy Panel Truck – Extreme Makeover

It’s tough to drive a truck down a ballroom staircase, so the Urban Suburban can’t have one of those dramatic entrances like Extreme Makeover participants do on TV. But, the before and after shots of the ’47 Chevy panel truck are as dramatic as any face-lifted, breast-augmented, tummy-tucked, teeth-capped, middle-aged homemaker from suburbia on one of those reality makeover shows.

If you parked the “before” truck next to the finished phantom Suburban, about the only obvious connection is that they’re both classic Chevy trucks. Much of the original truck is gone, including the chassis, engine, transmission, rearend, interior, rear doors, and a good chunk of the roof.

Like so many classic truck projects, this one started out simple and grew in complexity with each new modification. Ray Doe who runs RB’s Obsolete Automotive, Inc., has built several ’47-55 Chevy trucks. The last one, known as the High Tech Hauler, was the Grand Prize in a CLASSIC TRUCKS and Street Rodder subscription promotion. Ray really liked that truck, but ethics, a sense of fair play, and all the legal fine print about employees not being eligible to enter the sweepstakes prevented that beautiful truck from remaining in his garage.

So, Ray set out to build a truck for himself. He had his heart set on a classic Suburban, but ran across a super cherry ’47 Chevy Panel. The business rationale behind the project was to build a truck to showcase RB’s Serious Hardware new rolling chassis for ’47-55 (first series) trucks. Rather than passing on the panel, Ray changed his plans.

Plan A was to leave the older restoration body and interior alone and just drop it on the new chassis with modern running gear. That plan lasted as long as it took for Alan Swedberg to agree to chop the top and turn the panel into a phantom Suburban. The doors were converted to hardtop style with Nomad-style slanted B- pillars. A Trailblazer/Bravada rear hatch/tailgate replaced the old “barn doors.” Late-model Corvette taillights were added, the hood halves were welded together, the splash pans were shortened, the factory vents were filled, and custom running boards were added.

All that radical bodywork didn’t look very good in primer; so Chris Odom applied gallons of stunning House of Kolor Shimrin Tangelo Pearl and Majik Blue Pearl. Mike LaVallee helped dress it up even more with the rip flames graphics.

While the bodywork and paint were in progress, Gary, Shawn, and Terry at Kimbridge Enterprises in Snohomish, Washington, were very busy handling the design, fabrication, and assembly of the new rolling chassis. The chassis was designed expressly for modified trucks. The framerails are tucked in 2 inches (per side) behind the cab so big wheels and tires would fit easily. To prove the point, Billet Specialties 20×10-inch SLX 01 were mounted on Nitto tires out back, while 18×8.5-inchers were mounted up front.

The IFS comes with power 11-inch disc brakes, but Ray decided to upgrade to even bigger discs and had Stainless Steel Brake Corporation Force 10 Extreme Duty 13-inch rotors installed along with 14-inch discs on the rear.

Given the extreme nature of this makeover, it isn’t the least bit surprising that Ray opted for a stump-pulling 496ci Max Velocity Plus big-block from Beck Racing Engines. The engine puts out 564 hp and 563 ft-lb of torque on 91-octane gas. A heavy-duty B&M transmission sits between the engine and the 9-inch Ford rearend.

A trick exterior demands an equally slick interior. Blue leather front buckets and a split-bench rear seat from Wise Guys Seating & Accessories replaced the original metal-backed bucket seats. A custom console, door panels, and headliner were fabricated and sewn by Ray’s close friend, Jim Carr. Much of the detail assembly work was performed in Jim’s immaculate home garage. The orange tweed inserts mirror the rip graphics on the paint.

The Urban Suburban is an extreme truck that has proven to be extremely popular. It has provided Ray with not only some great transportation, but a test-bed and rolling advertisement for many of the products from the RB’s Obsolete mail-order catalog. The best part is that Ray will actually get to keep this one.

F A C T S & F I G U R E S
Ray Doe, RB’s Obsolete Automotive
Glendale, Arizona
1947 Chevy Panel/Suburban
Frame Serious Hardware custom chassis
Modifications narrowed rear rails
Rearend / Ratio Currie 9″ / 3.00:1
Rear suspension parallel leaf springs
Rear brakes SSBC Force 10 14″ discs
Front suspension RB’s IFS with Tubular A-arms
Front brakes SSBC Force 10 13″ discs
Steering box rack-and-pinion
Front wheel make, size Billet Specialties SLX 01, 18×8.5 (4.5″ bs)
Rear wheel make, size Billet Specialties SLX 01, 20×10 (5.75″ bs)
Front tire make, size Nitto Extreme ZR, 235/40ZR18
Rear tire make, size Nitto Extreme ZR, 275/30ZR20
Gas tank Rock Valley stainless
Year and make Chevy big-block by Beck Racing Engines, Phoenix, AZ
Displacement 496 ci
Camshaft Crane Cams hydraulic
Heads Edelbrock aluminum
Valve covers BRE Chromed-steel
Manifold / Induction Edelbrock Performer RPM / Barry Grant Demon
Ignition / Wires Accel HEI / Moroso Black Max Spiral Core
Headers Street & Performance block-hugger
Exhaust / Mufflers Custom by Mikes Automotive
Make and model GM Turbo 400
Modifications B&M performance built
Shifter Lokar
Body style / Material panel / steel
Manufacturer Chevrolet
Modifications Converted to phantom Suburban
Fenders front / rear stock
Hood shaved, center seam filled
Grille stock
Paint by Chris Odom, Extreme Metal & Paint, Anacortes, WA
Paint type / Color House of Kolor / Shimrin Tangelo Pearl and Majik Blue Pearl
Graphics by Mike LaVallee, in Snohomish, WA
Headlights / Taillights tri-bar / Corvette C5
Bumpers reshaped original bumpers
Dashboard stock
Gauges Classic Instruments with custom face with RB’s logo
Air conditioning Hot Rod Air
Stereo Sony
Steering wheel Billet Specialties
Steering column Flaming River aluminum tilt
Seats Wise Guys buckets (front) and split bench (rear), leather
Console custom-built by Jim Carr
Upholstery by Jim Carr
Material / Color leather and tweed / blue with orange accents
Carpet / Color blue / wool

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