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47 Suburban Restoration
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Author:  TimMabry [ Wed Dec 28, 2011 12:48 am ]
Post subject:  47 Suburban Restoration

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Thought I'd finally get around to starting a post about my 47 Suburban restoration. I am currently somewhere near the halfway point so you missed all the tear down and so on. The truth is I started this restoration about 4 years ago then got sidetracked on numerous other projects. I purchased the car back in 1996. I work at a dealership (originally Chrysler/Plymouth/Imperial and now Nissan) and a gal up in the office who knew I fooled around with old cars asked me if I wanted a DeSoto. No! I already have too many cars! She kept bugging me and said if I didn't buy it it was going to the crusher. Seems her step dad wanted a Porsche and the DeSoto had to go to make room. So I stopped by to take a look. I walked into the garage and couldn't believe my eyes. The car kept going. There sat a monstrous Suburban in all it's dusty glory!! I bought it on the spot for, would you believe, 400 dollars??? The pictures are from the day I picked it up. It took half an hour to get the garage door open because it was painted shut!
Here's the history on the car as far as I know. It was originally used by a funeral home in Parsons, KS as a body hauler/ambulance. My guess is they didn't want to use their fancy Packard or Cadillac hearse to pick up clients and used the Suburban for that purpose. It does have almost 7 feet of cargo room with the seats folded flat. I found plenty of evidence it was used as an ambulance. The front rail on the roof is missing, 3 holes were cut out of the wooden rack, and repairs were made to cover holes in the roof, probably for the lights. More repaired holes on the L/F fender where a siren was mounted and yet more repaired holes on the front valance.
The funeral home moved and sold the property to a church. The DeSoto went with the deal and the pastor drove it as for a while. Eventually it was givento the the guy I got it from. He used it in high school. He said he was pretty popular because he could haul a bunch of kids around. He moved 5 times and each time the DeSoto went with him. Somewhere along the way all the ambulance stuff was removed and an incorrect paint job was applied.
So now I am in the process of bring her back to life. Since I work full time it will be a slow process so hang in there. I'll keep adding new pictures to bring things up to date.

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Author:  TimBowers [ Wed Dec 28, 2011 7:49 am ]
Post subject:  Re: 47 Suburban Restoration

Very cool! Keep us up to date on the story!


Author:  TimMabry [ Mon Jan 02, 2012 8:41 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: 47 Suburban Restoration

Here's an update. Most of these pictures were taken last March and April.

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File comment: This shows where the ambulance lights once were.
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Author:  RosemaryStolowich [ Wed Jan 04, 2012 10:59 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: 47 Suburban Restoration

Gorgeous, vintage DeSoto, Tim!

Can't wait to see it when it's all done and the way you like it.


Author:  TimMabry [ Tue Apr 10, 2012 2:15 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: 47 Suburban Restoration

More pictures of the Suburban taken last November. As you can see she is getting down to the bare bones. Luckily the car does not have a bunch of rust. It was confined mostly to the back half of the rockers and lower parts of the doors. It had been repaired poorly in the past, metal patches pop riveted over rust, so now it will be cut out and replaced.

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Author:  Guest [ Tue Apr 24, 2012 1:41 am ]
Post subject:  Re: 47 Suburban Restoration


When you get the the me....


Author:  TimMabry [ Sat Mar 15, 2014 8:24 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: 47 Suburban Restoration

Well it's been forever since I've updated the progress, or lack thereof, on my Suburban. After the initial start I've restarted twice with 2 long breaks in between. I always end up working on other peoples cars and let my stuff sit. Add in an Ironman and 2 job changes, after being at the same dealership for 27 years, and you get the picture.

As you can see by the pictures I got the body and pieces sandblasted, primed, body work performed, cut in and parts hung. I got the engine running for the first time since 1971. It fired on the first pull, had good oil pressure, and no funny noises. I like to use a pre-luber on new engines before I start them. The only issue was a 5 gallon bucket worth of stuff that blew out the muffler I borrowed off my parts car. The suspension, steering and brakes are all on. The only thing keeping me from taking it on a short drive is the lack of having the fuel tank and new line installed.

Still have a long way to go. The next step will be to get the body ready for paint. Not sure who I'll have paint it but it won't be me. I feel another break coming on. Let's see, the wife has a major project planned for the house, just took in a 41 Buick, 25 Hudson on the way, 21 Sunbeam needs.....well, you get the picture.

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File comment: Almost ready for front clip.
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File comment: Latest Progress
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Author:  RosemaryStolowich [ Sun Mar 16, 2014 4:24 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: 47 Suburban Restoration

Great progress!

Thank you for the update!


Author:  James_SF_Douglas [ Sat Mar 22, 2014 1:09 am ]
Post subject:  Re: 47 Suburban Restoration

Hey Tim,

That is great.

Do me a favor...if you figured out a set of color formulas on the suburban...send me a copy will you?

At some point in time, I may paint my car back to the original colors. I have access to the lower color, but the upper is all painted over in black.

If I can do anything for your...hunt me down.


Author:  TimMabry [ Sun May 24, 2015 2:39 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: 47 Suburban Restoration

Finally got the old girl in paint. I'm pleasantly surprised with my body work. I'm known to say "Never let a body man do mechanical work and never let a mechanic do body work." I had a body man friend do the really difficult work but I did 90% of it. Is it perfect? No, but then it's not a show car. Now for the fun part, putting all the shiny parts on. A corner has been turned.

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Author:  TimBowers [ Sun May 24, 2015 3:32 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: 47 Suburban Restoration


You're at that point where you begin to see the benefit of all that sanding!

Author:  thomasnorth [ Sat Jun 27, 2015 6:45 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: 47 Suburban Restoration

Good work so far. I have one that I am looking at starting to tear apart after the doc gives me an okay from back surgery on July 8th. Can't work for two months so I might as well get it going. Still working on the 40 but you never can have to many projects going. Right guys!!!!

Author:  TimMabry [ Fri Jun 02, 2017 9:57 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: 47 Suburban Restoration

Well I've finally got my Suburban done and on the road. I'm still working the bugs out but it drives well and I love the Fluid Drive. (Don't know why so many people want to swap it out.) It's not the fastest but surprisingly it goes down the hiway fine. The big surprise is how easily it steers. I've owned this car for 21 year and it great to finally drive it. The pictures are up at the military cemetery near Leavenworth, KS on Memorial day.

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Author:  TimBowers [ Fri Jun 02, 2017 10:19 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: 47 Suburban Restoration


Author:  TimMabry [ Fri Jun 02, 2017 10:45 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: 47 Suburban Restoration

Thanks Tim. It's not "Stellar" but I'm happy with it. I hope you can see it some day since we're not far apart.

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