The Chevrolet Suburban is a family-sized blank canvas. Sure, these rigs come off the line looking similar to their pickup truck brethren, but people have lifted them, lowered them, diesel-swapped them, and done everything imaginable in them. GM even turns them into Cadillacs. Weirdly, not a whole lot of people have made them ludicrously fast, so when ICON showed off a no-holds-barred pro-touring-inspired restomod Chevrolet Suburban, my eyebrow was thoroughly raised.
This wild SUV comes from the brain of Jonathan Ward, the man behind tasteful restomod outfit ICON. You might know of this shop from its reimagined Broncos, patinated Derelict cars, and serious craftsmanship. This Suburban is part of its Reformer series, a thorough restoration and modernization regimen that encapsulates projects from the ground up, all while looking reasonably original.
On the outside, this ICON Reformer Suburban looks delightfully classic, save for the modern touches of alloy wheels, performance tires, and absolutely dumped ride height. However, things aren’t entirely as they seem.
Chevrolet never made a 1970 Suburban with a driver’s side rear door, so ICON managed to build one from scratch, then graft it onto this vintage family hauler. I’m talking glass, door handles, window tracks, weatherstripping, the works. As a result, this one-off boasts extra practicality over its non-restomodded siblings, a welcome addition in today’s world.
Under the hood of this Suburban sits a Nelson Racing Engines Alien twin-turbocharged seven-liter LS-based engine detuned to 1,000 horsepower. Yes, detuned. This engine alone is an incredible feat of engineering and relatively reasonable at $36,999 to start. In case you aren’t familiar with Nelson Racing Engines, it’s a firm that takes big power and makes it reliable and streetable. There’s a reason you see cars on Hot Rod Power Tour running these engines, and that’s because they work. This Suburban’s built 4L85-E four-speed automatic transmission and Dana 60 rear end should have no difficulty handling this level of power, so the fundamentals here are reassuringly solid.
Mind you, these Suburbans aren’t typically known for exceptional stopping or turning, so this one rides on a custom Art Morrison chassis with four-wheel independent suspension and beefy Brembo brakes. Yeah, that ought to do the trick. In theory, the result should be an old SUV that drives like a new performance vehicle, a tantalizing melding of style and substance.
While the outside of this Suburban is wonderfully discreet, the interior’s a little more showy. It’s a place full of billet pieces, blocky fonts, and modern touches. The metallic dashboard trims and thick gauge bezels come across all horological, while the power window controls are rather cleverly cached to not be obvious. Admittedly, this interior leaves me a bit cold compared to the quaintness of an original 1970 Suburban dashboard, but that’s really a matter of taste.
Before we go all ga-ga over a dream build Suburban, this creation has a bit of a sticking point: It cost $1.1 million. For that sort of money, you could buy the combustion-powered Uberwagon of the moment, the Porsche Panamera Turbo S Sport Turismo, and still have $900,000 left over. Or, if you want to say in the GM family, a Cadillac Escalade-V and have $950,000 left over to do whatever you want. Want to see if someone like Troy Trepanier would take a crack at an Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser? Why not. Fancy a Jaguar XJ220? But of course. A condo in Los Angeles so you can be near some good roads? That too. Don’t get me wrong, a money-no-object dream build is cool, but those projects tend to have limited appeal once you attach a dollar amount to them.
Still, we salute the one customer brave enough to commission a seven-figure twin-turbocharged family hauler. While it isn’t everyone’s first pick for a million-dollar car, it’s one badass Suburban that flies under the radar despite the sheer craftsmanship and engineering that went into it.
(Photo credits: ICON)
Support our mission of championing car culture by becoming an Official Autopian Member.