1966 Chevy Suburban | DIAMOND of the Rough

From Junk to Jewels!

We all have that one uncle who is just weird, who we refuse to be left alone with in the same room. But we also all have that cool uncle who was years ahead of us with neat things and great ideas. For Justin Coffman of Fishers, Indiana, his cool uncle was Gary. Gary had tons of cars and trucks at a shop that Justin would visit.

“I remember in the very back behind the shop was this white thing that was just rotting away,” Justin says. “Something about it would always just intrigue me.”

Gary kept telling Justin that he was going to eventually get to it and build it up nice, but year after year the dilapidated truck just sat there in misery.

One day, Gary approached his nephew and asked him what he would do to it to make it nice. Justin responded that he would bag it and paint it. Gary agreed to give the ’66 Chevy Suburban to Justin only if he promised to complete it like he had always intended. The next day the truck arrived on a flatbed in pieces and looked nearly impossible to put together. Justin stayed positive and began inquiring at some shops to have the truck properly reassembled. Once Justin found Josh Jewell at Sparky’s Hardcore Customs in Kentucky, the pieces started coming together. Josh built a 2×4 tube chassis front to back and powdercoated it silver.

Once the truck was put back together and safely turned back into a Suburban, Justin changed the front clip and welded it all together. All the fenders were welded, too, and all the factory seams were smoothed out. The roof was taken to bare metal with chemical stripper because throughout the years it had over nine different layers of paint on it. As Justin prepped the truck for paint, he got some horrible news: He was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and had to begin chemotherapy immediately. Doctors told him that he should stay away from paint fumes and chemicals during his treatments, but Justin couldn’t stay away from this Chevy. Two gallons of polyester primer were sprayed and blocked out several times before Justin was satisfied. This was Justin’s first full paint job, and once he laid out the Metallic Blue Pearl, he knew it was going to be the best he ever did. Four coats of clear were added to the top and it was wet sanded and buffed to perfection.

When he got the Suburban there was no engine, interior or front end so it proved to be a mission getting all the parts for a classic this old.

“I must have traveled to Illinois three times looking for specific parts,” Justin says. “I had to scout parts off of farmers.”

Justin scored big when he found a 5.3 LS1 motor in a junkyard from a Chevy Trailblazer that had rear end damage. Justin added the paint, reworked the block and installed it himself, and similar to Frankenstein, the minute it started, he shouted, “She’s alive!”

With the body, motor and chassis completed, it was time to add a full air-ride suspension. Using Michigan Metal Works parts and Air Lift bags, the Chevy Suburban was sitting on the ground in no time at all. The next step for the Chevy was the interior where Eddie at Unique Hot Rods and Upholstery began his masterpiece. The ’07 GMC Sierra seats were wrapped in gray vinyl and suede and added to the cabin. The rear seats were custom fabricated from scratch and a ’62 Apache dashboard was placed in. Vinyl and suede were added to the headliner and dashboard. Justin manufactured gray hardwood floors for the Chevy for an even greater custom touch.

The last step on the Suburban was to fine tune the stereo setup. Justin walked into an audio store and audio guru Jeremy Reed asked if he was the owner of the Suburban out front. Justin nodded, and Jeremy asked if he could sponsor the audio setup and immediately started pouring out ideas to him. Justin dropped off the classic at the shop, and Jeremy and Eddie from the upholstery shop got together to match materials together making a unique and perfect quality setup.

Diamond in the Rough was photographed one year to the day of when Justin found out he had cancer, and at the time of this article he is in full remission and feeling great. Although doctors told him to stay away from the intense building he was doing, Justin looks at this build as medication and feels it helped him through some very bad times.

A special thanks goes to his uncle Gary for entrusting him with such a jewel that was just sitting and to his beautiful wife Julia and their two boys Jax and Jaiden for all their support during a very trying time. Diamond in the Rough is more than a trophy winner, it’s a life saver.