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John Bottger’s ’50 Suburban

Imagine having bad luck followed by even more bad luck while trying to get your dream truck built. Missed deadlines, subpar work, and plenty of wasted time and money can really take a toll on your motivation to finish the damned thing, which is why it’s not too uncommon to see unfinished, sometimes butchered projects for sale on Craigslist.

John Bottger was definitely feeling the pain when he approached Zac Love of Love Kustoms while at a local show admiring one of Zac’s shop’s latest builds, a ’50 Chevy 3100. John also owned a ’50 Chevy, though his was of the Suburban variety. He recounted to Zac the struggles that he had been having with his project after leaving it with various shops throughout the previous 15 years, including a severely botched chop top. Once John saw Zac’s work, he knew he had found the last shop his Suburban would ever need to visit. But, with all the work involved (totaling more than 5,000 hours once all was said and done), it would take five years to complete.

John’s main goal was to have a unique, custom cruiser that he could roll around in with his grandkids, so Zac made that his blueprint for creating John’s perfect Suburban. A major part of the build, of course, was undoing what other shops had done or attempted to do. To fix the chop, for instance, involved more hours than it would have taken to just do it right the first time. More than two-thirds of the roof had to be reshaped and streamlined to flow as it should, while eliminating any weak points that had been introduced during the previous attempt. The result is a chop that almost looks stock at first glance, especially with the flawless hand-formed window trim.

From there, Zac focused on additional modifications that would expand on the “is that stock” theme, such as a 2.5-inch pancaked hood, a custom rear hatch, custom grille, fabricated running boards, and frenched headlights, among others. The subdued cream and candy brown paint with PPG Vibrance Custom Clear go even one step further by downplaying the extent of the mods.


The chassis was kept relatively simple for ease of serviceability, and retains the factory 1950 rails. Fat Man Fabrications control arms were used in conjunction with Ridetech coilovers up front, while another pair of Ridetech coilovers were used with a 4-link at the rear. Drilled and slotted rotors were mounted all around for improved braking, with an under-floor booster for a cleaner appearance under the hood. Once the chassis was buttoned up, BFGoodrich G-Force Comp 2 tires were mounted on 18 and 20-inch US Mags Heavy Artillery wheels for the perfect retro-yet-modern combination.

With the Suburban now a roller, it was time to make it a driver. A mild Chevy 350 was built up with a Professional Products intake manifold and Edelbrock carburetor, then bolted to a Turbo 400 transmission built by Rick Gusti. Once the engine and trans were bolted up to their respective mounts, a custom exhaust was built using Pypes and Magnaflow stainless steel products, with mid-length Patriot headers affixed to the cylinder heads.

Now roadworthy, the Suburban was dropped off at Hobgoods Upholstery for a complete revamp of the interior. Aside from the leather seating, John’s Chevy also received custom machined seat medallions, custom panels, and a floor made of 150 year-old reclaimed oak. To tie things together a bit more, the same oak was even used on the Billet Specialties steering wheel trim!

Finally complete after almost two decades, John is finally able to enjoy his Suburban with his grandkids as often as he gets the chance! To date, the Chevy has taken awards at every event it has been to, and luckily has more than enough room to haul them home! Congrats to John for finally getting his dream truck finished, and we can’t wait to see it at the next show. hobgoods upholstery gave this suburban a complete interior revamp, including leather seats, machined seat medallions,  and a floor made of 150-year-old reclaimed oak.



John Bottger
Richmond, VA
1950 Chevy Suburban

Chassis & Suspension

  • Factory frame with Fat Man Fabrications front suspension
  • 4-link rear suspension
  • RideTech coilovers front and rear
  • Drilled/slotted brake rotors front and rear
  • 10-bolt Chevy rear end with 3.55 gears and posi
  • Floor-mounted brake booster and master cylinder

Wheels & Tires

  • 18×7 and 20×10.5 US Mags Heavy Artillery wheels
  • BFGoodrich G Force Comp 2 tires

Engine & Drivetrain

  • Chevy 350 engine
  • Professional Products intake manifold
  • Edelbrock carburetor
  • Procomp ignition system
  • Patriot mid-length headers
  • Pypes 2.5-inch stainless exhaust piping with Magnaflow mufflers
  • Turbo 400 transmission by Rick Gusti

Body & Paint

  • Work performed by Love Kustoms
  • 3.5-inch chopped top
  • 2.5-inch pancaked hood
  • Custom rear hatch
  • Custom grille
  • Custom running boards
  • Frenched headlight buckets
  • United Pacific LED lights
  • Hand-formed window trim
  • Cream and candy brown paint w/PPG Vibrance Custom Clear
  • Pinstriping by Michael Hall

Interior & Stereo

  • Work done by Hobgoods Upholstery
  • Custom leather upholstery on seats and panels
  • Custom seat medallions
  • Classic Instruments gauges
  • Custom aluminum trim
  • Custom under-dash panel
  • Custom door sill plates
  • Reclaimed wood floor
  • Billet Specialties steering wheel with reclaimed wood trim