When it comes to custom and vintage motorcycles, many of us have to consider a moto-hauler at some point. While a simple single-axle trailer or pickup truck may get the job done, some of our featured builders have more creative solutions for hauling their bikes.
One of the most droolworthy examples we’ve seen of late is Jeff Grandjean‘s 1954 Chevy Suburban, which he uses to haul his Suzuki XF650 Freewind scrambler and a number of other vintage bikes. Did you know the first Suburban actually appeared way back in 1934 as a ’35 model, making it the longest-running nameplate in continuous production?
Jeff’s ’54 is a third-generation Suburban, produced from 1947-1954 and based on the Chevy 3100 series 1/2-ton trucks. While you might not think of a Suburban as a van, it was basically the passenger version of the windowless 3100 panel truck / delivery van. It originally came with a choice of the “Stovebolt” or “Thiftmaster” inline-6, but Jeff’s has some very nice upgrades:
“I have a 305 c.i. V8 from a 1985 Chevrolet Caprice, also the axles and the gearbox. Brakes are from a Mercedes (disc brakes).”
The Suburban originally had nine seats, but they’d been long removed when Jeff bought the Chevy from a friend, leaving lots of room for bikes. Says Jeff:
“With the Ducati 350 Desmo in the photos, it’s really easy to load. But my scrambler, for example, isn’t so easy, because the bars are too high, so I need to turn them to make it fit. My old BMW R25/3 (1954) is not too high, but the frame is too low. So I need longer ramps or a strong second person to help.”
Jeff admits that the fuel economy is pretty terrible for hauling bikes — 30L/100km, or less than 10 mpg! — though he’s hoping a new carb will improve those figures. Still, this is one moto-hauler that’s more about the experience than the practicality — especially in Europe, where such a machine is doubly rare:
“It’s not a normal daily car you see on the road, so everyone is looking at me when I drive it. When I produced the video with XACT Pro, I spent more time talking with people. So it’s more an ‘Advanture.'”
Any hauler with this kind of character deserves a nickname, and Jeff’s ’54 has earned an apt one: “Blauer Riesenfreezer,” which means “Blue Giant Freezer” in German — perfect! Below, we get a few more details about the machine, as well as more photos from the folks at XACT Pro.
Chevy Suburban Moto Hauler: Owner Interview
• What’s the make, model, and year of your moto van/hauler?
Chevrolet Suburban, 1954.
• Why did you choose this van to haul bikes?
It’s the only good looking, old van. I bought it from a good friend, so the car came to me — I didn’t choose this car. But it’s the coolest van to haul old bikes. I love this combination.
• What modifications did you make to the van to haul bikes?
I modified nothing. The original Suburban had nine seats and the panel van was the transporter van. But I never had the seats.
• How easy is load in/out? Do you have to compress the forks or fit bikes diagonally?
With the Ducati 350 Desmo in the photos, it’s really easy to load. But my scrambler, for example, isn’t so easy, because the bars are too high, so I need to turn them to make it fit. My old BMW R25/3 (1954) is not too high, but the frame is too low. So I need longer ramps or a strong second person to help.
• What are some of the bikes you’ve hauled in this van?
I’ve 0nly had old bikes in the van. BMW R25/3, Ducati 350 Desmo, Peugeot 103, or my scrambler.
• What’s the largest bike you have hauled?
The largest bike was my Scrambler — there’s just 1 cm between the tire and the door. But in wintertime, I have my scrambler, the BMW, and the Peugeot in the car to make space in my garage.
• Does the van have a nickname?
I have no nickname for the Suburban. But someone named the car ¨Blauer Riesenfreezer¨ (German), which means blue giant freezer. Funny 😄
• What kind of fuel economy are you getting?
Ooohh..fuel economy. I’m happy when I don’t need to go too far from home. Thirty liters is the normal consumption — I hope it’ll get better with a new carburetor.
• Any big disadvantages to the van?
The fuel economy is probably the biggest disadvantage. But the rest is perfect. It’s not a normal daily car you see on the road, so everyone is looking at me when I drive it. When I produced the video with Xact Pro, I spent more time talking with people. So it’s more an “Advanture.”