Beauty and brawn, 1957 Chevy Suburban with NAPCO 4-wheel-drive system

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suburban
The restored Suburban was painted in Indian Turquoise with a gray interior

Before off-roading was a big thing, and during the 1950s mostly confined to Jeeps, Land Rovers and such, a Minneapolis company named NAPCO supplied 4-wheel-drive systems for Chevrolet and GMC trucks.

NAPCO, an acronym for the North American Auto Parts Company, which was founded in 1918, honed its craft during World War II supplying 4-wheel drives for military vehicles.  After the war, it focused on selling kits to convert civilian trucks, before GM began using NAPCO systems for factory-built 4-wheelers.

Suburban

The Pick of the Day is a highly attractive 1957 Chevrolet Suburban fitted with NAPCO Powr-Pak 4-wheel drive, the kind of rig used back in the day by the Forest Service and other backwoods operations.

The West Chester, Pennsylvania, dealer advertising the Suburban on ClassicCars.com described the truck as “the ultimate early SUV, excellent example of a highly-collectable rust-free California truck, special ordered with the rare NAPCO four-wheel-drive option for use by the Federal Parks and Recreation Department.”

The Suburban has been fully restored, the dealer says, and painted in “stunning Indian Turquoise paint with excellent Gray interior.”

“Every aspect has been rebuilt, including the engine and differential,” according to the ad. “Extremely rare and very difficult to find, fully serviced and runs great!”

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Suburban

Powered by its original 235 cid, 140-horsepower Thriftmaster 6-cylinder engine fitted with a 4-speed manual transmission, the Chevy is fitted with dual side mirrors and radial tires, the ad says.

Four-wheel-drive Suburbans from this era are not often found in this sort of original trim, or restored to this level.  The next owner might want to replace its current tires with something with more-aggressive tread for off-roading.

Although on second thought, this truck looks far too nice for bashing around in the woods or desert.  Scratching that nice paint job would be a shame.  Such a beauty probably would do better cruising on pavement or being admired at a car show.

The asking price for this NAPCO Suburban is $39,000.

To view this listing on ClassicCars.com, see Pick of the Day.

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Bob Golfen is a longtime automotive writer and editor, focusing on new vehicles, collector cars, car culture and the automotive lifestyle. He is the former automotive writer and editor for The Arizona Republic and SPEED.com, the website for the SPEED motorsports channel. He has written free-lance articles for a number of publications, including Autoweek, The New York Times and Barrett-Jackson auction catalogs. A collector car enthusiast with a wide range of knowledge about the old cars that we all love and desire, Bob enjoys tinkering with archaic machinery. His current obsession is a 1962 Porsche 356 Super coupe.

3 COMMENTS

  1. Very nice truck however both front doors look to be a mess. Neither line-up at the top and the bottom edges hang-out from the quarter panels. For almost 40 Grand it should be way more presentable than that. Look at the pictures.

  2. You are correct Neal. It is a good restore and the interior and engine are impressive The passenger side door doesn’t line up to the body line. You would need those to shut tight all the way around because it ain’t got a heater or defrost. Back in the day those Forest Service guys must of been tough. The old Army 6×6 deuce and half the operator’s station had a cloth top & no heat. They just issued you more long johns.

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