The 'Sub 100
The Suburban Stuffed F100
By Mike Earley
Let me start out by saying I have never been a Ford guy and never planned to own a Ford. My wife’s grandfather owned a 72 F-100 and she had always liked that truck, so I told her maybe someday we could build a truck like that for her. Fast-forward 8 years, I’m up in Minnesota on a fishing trip with my feet kicked up on the boat daydreaming, when I get a Facebook notification that one of my buddies is selling his 1965 F100 Project.
Not knowing the difference in the body styles of Ford Pickups, I figured she wouldn’t either. I contacted my buddy and told him I wanted the truck. When I got back home from the fishing trip, I loaded the trailer and went to go get the truck. When I brought it home the first thing my wife said was “that is not my papaw’s truck”. Shit! She did know the difference. It was too late, the deal was done and the truck went into the garage to sit for the next few years, while I finished up the LS1 swap on the Shevelle.
One night a buddy and I were having a few drinks and talking about buying flooded Tahoe’s, Suburban’s, and 1500 trucks from hurricane Harvey for the drive trains. Since the F100 needed a new drive train, brakes, gas tank and lines, and a lot of new wiring. I asked, “Wouldn’t it just be easier to put this old truck body on a new truck frame?”
With a few quick Google searches, we determined that the Tahoe and the Truck wheelbase, and track width were too far off. But the Suburban track width measured almost identical to the F100, and the wheelbase was only 1” longer, which could easily be hidden by shifting the cab and bed slightly in the wheel opening. So the search began for a 99-06 suburban. It only took a week or so for me to find one at our local Copart insurance auction. I won the damn thing for $1300.
Once we had the Suburban in the shop it was time to rip the bodies off the frames and start test fitting the truck cab on the suburban frame. It didn’t take long to realize that the F100 floor pan was shot, and it would be easier to use the Suburban floor pan since it already had the frame mount locations established. Once we got the floor braced up and welded into the cab it was time to move on to the truck bed.
Because of the way the frame jumped up over the axle, the bed of the truck needed to be removed and raised 7.25” to clear the new mounts we made. With the bed floor welded in and attached to the new mounts we moved on to making the front clip fit the frame. To make this happen we had to cut about 14” off the front frame horns, and make a new mounting location for the core support to rest. Now that all the body panels are mounted to the suburban frame it was time to get it wired up and running.
One of the best things about the factory LS harnesses is just how easy they are to “Hot wire” and make a standalone harness. Since we retained the Suburban engine bay fuse block, it was just a matter of hooking up few wires, to get it up and running. We tied the yellow wire to an under the hood starter button to active the starter.
Once we had it running it was time to see how it drove. I took the maiden voyage down the street to a buddy’s house and it didn’t drive half bad besides the tires rubbed up front and the steering column angle was a little too steep and the steering wheel was a little jerky/sticky when turning.
I never planned on painting the truck but after polishing the box side I noticed a ton of small hair line cracks in the paint. So me, being me, I had to find out what was underneath the paint making it crack, and of course it was ton of body filler.
Out came the grinder and the truck got stripped down to bare metal, hammered on, welded, grinded, skim coated, primed, and block sanded before it got shot in a Summit white, and Peacock green! Over the winter I finished out the interior, lowered the front 2 inches, got new rims and tires, added a spray in bed liner, built custom inner fenders, and custom headliner.
The truck is a blast to drive and is a real head turner, I always tell people that ask about the truck “it drives like a new car and rattles like an old truck”