The Camp 4x4 Bus - 1973 Suburban 8.1 Swap & Build


I'd do the body-swap for the reason you just said - you could keep one running while you did the engine swap. When it came time to do the body-change, it would literally be a one-weekend deal. Of course, I'm as free spending another's time as I am their money - so there is that as well.


Expedition Leader
Nice looking Burb there Aaron. I wish I had one of that vintage to dive into. Looking good! Cheers, Chilli..:)


Expedition Leader
Okay, so here's the original build sheet. Was in the original owners manual in the glove box. No RPO code sheet in the box though. My buddy who's at the shop and took the picture didn't poke around many other places so I may have to hunt a bit to find more.

I'd say with the factory locking hubs, you have a small bearing NP205. Also, look under the hood, GM put some of the SPID's on the inner fender well on squarebodies versus the glove box.


Nice looking Burb there Aaron. I wish I had one of that vintage to dive into. Looking good! Cheers, Chilli..:)
You could, sir, you could. It all starts innocently enough with "I'll just look at Craigslist to see if there are any Suburbans for sale" the purchase, the screaming wife come later :)


Got the 8.1 out of the garage and into a trailer today. Gonna get it into the shop tomorrow. Been in the garage for the better part of the year. Happy to get it closer to being into the a truck finally!



Autism Family Travellers!
As you are from California - I'll help you understand what you're looking at

that is a thing called "rust" - it's a terrible affliction that everyone else has to deal with and has been known to poison marriages, cause children to start cussing, and bankrupt entire families. While it appears all innocent on the outside of that panel, if you see it there, you should know that you will start finding it throughout the vehicle and it will jump to other, otherwise pristine vehicles.

I'm surprised they didn't turn you back at the agricultural station on the Cali border. With that said, it is good that you've brought that plague into California - they need a little rain with all that sunshine.

joking aside, since your parts-rig is 3/4 ton - you may be better off 'simply' swapping the running gear from one to the other. 3/4 ton frames are heavier-duty - add to that the 1/2 frames are prone to cracking at the steering box and it's an even better upgrade
That's not rust....that's character....

this is RUST



Okay, today wasn't much more than getting the engine down there, organizing the parts and checking the RPO codes. Found 'em on the driver-side wheel well. They say the exact same as the build sheet posted above. So not much extra help there. I meant to roll under the truck and check out the transfer case to identify it but I forgot. I'll be down there tomorrow and will check it out.

Saying hello. #chevytrucks #bigblock


Ready to get to work.

And no, I'm not a Snap-on rep. My buddy is. This work is gonna be done with mostly Harbor Freight tools. That's how I roll.


Excellent buy!!!!! Can't find those in So Cal anywhere near that price. Very cool build, look forward to following this one.


I will be watching this also. I had a 77 that was going to be smog exempt, then they changed that to 75.

I bet you do have a 205 in there with locking hubs. Depending on the year, your frame in the older sub could be thicker than my 91 V2500.

Not good news on my LS1 swap into my 8 elky though since I have no ides what is flashed into the ECM. (2002 5.3ltr truck motor)

I was thinking diesel too, but had to settle for a gas rig for my cummins swap. I have to go 2500 though as the cummins didn't come in a 1500.

I am just a little north of you in this wonderful state!! :Wow1:
Last edited:


Hmm, that thing looks familiar. You've got until June to get it done... Just say'n


Oh yeah? Deadlines are good. I'm already gettin' on it.

Spent two hours with it after work today. Started by trying to remove the hood, until I realized it's insanely heavy (I should have guessed) and awkward. So, I turned my attention to the engine. For now, rather than buying a stand, the engine is strapped to a pallet by the engine mounts. This should let me do all the wiring and the accessories, leaving replacing the cracked oil pan 'til last.

I got the whole OEM wiring harness off, bagged up some guides, bolts and nuts, then turned to the accessories. Most of them came off just fine. Then I realized I needed my pulley puller, which was back at home for some reason instead of with the rest of the tools. So that'll be next up the next time I'm down there. And of course the balancer has to come off. Gotta look into how to remove that properly.

As for the transfer case, I can confirm it's an NP205. Rolled under the truck and saw the telltale 3-bolt plate in the middle of it. So there's that. The thing I forgot I'd have to contend with is the different mounting pattern and the lower gear ratio. All the adapter options seems expensive, especially with the shaft mods that would need to be done, and don't get me a better crawl ratio. The smarter, though WAY expensive option seems to be ORD's Magnum Box. Bolts right on and gets me 4 flavors of ratios. But at $2K it's a pretty penny. I'm probably just going to go with this adapter plate from NW Fab Works. I'm not sure if this the least problematic/invasive way to go or not, but it's what I've found for now. But I know that Magnum Box is gonna be calling from the back of my mind...

I won't be able to get back to it until Thursday unfortunately. Tomorrow night a local 4x4 club is having their monthly meeting, and Wednesday night is the ham net night for which I'm the net control.

Anyway, PICS!

Yep, it's a 205

Progress pic

Accessories pile


Active member
I told you it was a 205, and we well protected it from surface rust. ;-)~ Look at this YT at about 2:00, interesting use of a prop rod to help get the hood off. Still takes two guys.
Last edited: