You are currently viewing Chevrolet.com (United States). Close this window to stay here or choose another country to see vehicles and services specific to your location.

Published 10/16/23

One-of-a-Kind Suburban

WORDS: DAN HODGDON

PHOTOS: LUCAS PRIAMO

Share on

Visit us at

Builder Luis Urzua of Autoclinic Restomod had two things in his possession when Rafa Montanez came to him saying he wanted a vehicle that would stand out: a 1962 Chevrolet Suburban and an idea.

“I started thinking and said, ‘You know, I have this panel truck and it’s something very different than all the other trucks you see at these shows,’” Urzua said during this spring’s C10 Nationals at Texas Motor Speedway. “Why don’t we do a Suburban, but instead of having a normal long Suburban, we start to chop it up and bring it closer to the panel truck and do something completely different and unexpected.”

The unique idea was honored with the Custom of the Year award at the Texas C10 Nationals event.

Rafa Montanez’ 1962 Suburban won Custom of the Year at this year’s Texas C10 Nationals. The vehicle was built by Luis Urzua’s Autoclinic Restomod shop.

Both men hail from Aguascalientes, Mexico, where Urzua still lives and his shop is located. Montanez does marine construction and has lived in Naples, Florida, for 27 years.

The two met when Montanez was having another builder work on a 1999 GMC. Unhappy with the progress, he reached out to Urzua, whose videos he had seen on YouTube. Urzua finished the build, complete with a Cadillac front end.

Montanez was unsure if he understood Urzua’s vision when they first discussed the Suburban project close to three years ago. However, he trusted his talent and gave him free rein to create a SEMA Show-quality vehicle.

Among the Suburban’s many highlights is an LS427 crate engine* mated to a 4L80-E four-speed automatic transmission.

The LS427 crate engine* is topped with a Whipple supercharger.

“Following along with the theme of doing something where every little part was special and different, we decided to go with the crate engine for something more powerful,” Urzua said.

The engine, sourced from a shop in San Diego, met all the requirements for the build with its reliable and efficient LS power. The power plant is topped with a 3.0L Whipple supercharger, part of an effort for the engine to make over 600 horsepower. Once it was dialed in, the Suburban hit a whopping 890 horses.

Urzua also fabricated an entirely new chassis for the build himself, shortening the original ’62 Suburban measurements by four inches. At first, he utilized a coilover suspension setup, but the team was unhappy with the stance and ride height. As a result, they moved to an adjustable Accuair air suspension.

“That way we can lower it and we can also raise it and have more flexibility,” Urzua said.

Urzua built his own custom Suburban chassis.

While Montanez gave the Autoclinic Restomod team full autonomy on the build, his one request was that the Suburban be painted black.

With that in mind, Urzua subtly removed certain chrome pieces and utilized flat black in the engine bay and interior portions of the Suburban, while the exterior is a shiny black color.

The vehicle rides on Schott wheels complemented by Pirelli tires in the front and a Japanese-brand tire out back. Wilwood six-piston front brakes and four-piston binders in the rear bring the Suburban to a stop.

Urzua was responsible for the vehicle’s interior as well, with the audio system being the only outsourced feature.

Autoclinic Restomod was also responsible for the Suburban’s interior.

Urzua’s father owned some trucks when he was young, but there wasn’t a significant family tie to the automotive hobby. He immersed himself in the automotive world and started doing mechanical work around 20 years ago. After a decade he added custom restomod work at his shop, and in recent years has dropped the mechanical side of the business to focus exclusively on restomods projects covering a variety of makes and models.

Montanez, meanwhile, is a longtime enthusiast whose dad was passionate about cars. That rubbed off on him, and he has now passed down that love to his own son.

Urzua noted it is difficult to build a vehicle of the Suburban’s caliber in Mexico, so he was excited when Montanez gave him the opportunity. Although they weren’t able to complete the project for last year’s SEMA event, the extra time led to an even better build. This year he hopes to attend SEMA with multiple Autoclinic projects, including the Suburban.

Urzua also said there are few events on the scale of the C10 Nationals in his home country. After attending for inspiration in 2022, this year was the first time he showed a vehicle. Both he and Montanez plan to return in the future.

Rafa Montanez (left) and Luis Urzua (center) accept the Custom of the Year award from C10 Nationals event organizer Chris Baker.

In Texas, and everywhere the Suburban goes, it stands out.

“The proportions of this truck are completely custom, every panel was manufactured to a special size for the build,” Urzua said. “I’m very proud of how this is one of a kind. There really isn’t another one like it.”

Be sure to keep watching The BLOCK for Chevrolet Performance builds from shows across the nation.

*Because of its effect on a vehicle’s emissions performance, this engine is intended exclusively for use in competition vehicles. This engine is designed and intended for use in vehicles operated exclusively for competition: in racing or organized competition on courses separate from public roads, streets or highways. Installation or use of this engine on a vehicle operated on public roads, streets or highways is likely to violate U.S., Canadian, and state and provincial laws and regulations related to motor vehicle emissions.

STORY PHOTOS