J-Rod and Custom-Built 1972 Chevy Suburban

From Project Truck To an Exceptionally High-End Custom Truck

By Rob Fortier   –   Photography by John Jackson

You know that old adage about a glass being half full versus half empty? Well, imagine how it applies to a project vehicle, if you will.

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03 The Suburban s chassis swap with a Ridetech coilover system for improved handling

When Michael Petramalo and his family originally acquired their 1972 Chevy Suburban, they were under the impression it was, as they put it, a “nearly complete build” (glass half full, as it were). But upon further inspection once it was in their possession, “it didn’t take long for me to come to the realization that our definition of nearly complete was vastly different!” Michael admits.

04 Meticulously shaved and modified bodywork for a clean and streamlined appearance

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Initially, Michael called upon Jared Hancock from J-Rod and Custom (Black Diamond, Washington) to come out to talk about notching the Suburban’s frame to get the stance a bit more to his liking. Well, that half-full glass reared its head and the two quickly came to the conclusion that a brand-new chassis was in order—and just as quickly, on order! Along with that, a complete Chevy Performance Connect and Cruise LT4 engine paired to a 8L90E transmission was added to the cup.

07 Close up of the Chevy Performance LT4 engine showcasing its power and performance upgrades

It was at that point that Michael realized an “exceptionally high-end build … very driveable and aggressive” was what he needed to commit to Hancock for, and that’s exactly what J-Rod & Custom proceeded to create over the course of the following year and a half.

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All said and, obviously, done, Michael’s Suburban, which is based on a design conjured up by Michael’s father as well as his daughters “on the fly” as the project was being completed, is what Michael describes as one of the “best trucks in the Pacific Northwest.”

09 Atomic Machine s precision work on the custom gauge bezel for the Dakota Digital cluster

As he previously pointed out, the stock chassis was swapped out and in its place went a Ridetech coilover-optioned platform outfitted with Baer brakes and Drift Schott wheels in 22- and 24-inch diameters (wrapped in Pirelli P Zero 255/25 and 405/25 Nero radials). The aforementioned LT4 engine was massaged with a Lingenfelter GT32 cam and CNC-ported heads, while J-Rod & Custom built a custom exhaust for it using Ultimate headers along with a single Flowmaster followed by a pair of Black Widow mufflers!

10 Custom center console with modern features designed by Andrew Raker

Before applying the PPG Lapis Poly and Blanco Italia two-tone, the Suburban underwent some minor cosmetic surgery, such as tucking the bumpers and a mild shave that included relocating the gas filler behind the driver side taillight.

14 McFarland Upholstery s exquisite craftsmanship in wrapping the interior surfaces with blue Ferrari leather

Read More: TMI Products’ Classic Interior For Your 1967-72 C10 Truck

Finally, before that glass was officially full, the J-Rod & Custom crew focused on bringing the interior quarters up to Michael’s liking. Ross Peterson designed a custom gauge bezel (whittled by Atomic Machine) that now houses a custom Dakota Digital cluster, Andrew Raker built a custom center console with all the bells and whistles, and a Vintage Air system was complemented by 3D–printed custom ducting. All this—and more—was wrapped up before McFarland Upholstery (Fife, Washington) did just that: wrapped the interior’s custom seating, paneling, and so on, in blue Ferrari leather with complementing plaid inserts throughout.

In the end, the Petramalo cup truly runneth over!

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