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"RATIKI"  1965 Chevy Suburban


The Inspiration


As a Southern California native, I've long been fascinated with hot rods, surf culture and all things tiki. So it was only a matter of time before I melded the three into my idea of the ultimate beach cruiser. Sure, I'd seen my share of high-dollar Nomads, Termite-infested Woodies and long roof station wagons with petrified kid snacks buried beneath the back seats. But somehow, the ideal candidate for the ultimate custom beach cruiser had somehow eluded me.


Until one day while looking at Collector Cars Classifieds online. I came across a 1965 Suburban . I'd always had a soft spot for the sixties Suburbans. So I called the truck's owner. We had a nice chat but nothing too serious.  Turns out it had been in Phoenix, Arizona its entire life before relocating the fine state of Kentucky with Greg, who'd recently moved there. A dry state if ever there was one. I asked him to send shots and a couple days later, and a packet of 8"X10" color copies arrived shortly thereafter, with neatly hand-written captions and a typed letter detailing the history of the truck.


Seeing the photos, that flickering flame in the back of my mind erupted into a small brush fire that soon engulfed me. I called Greg and told him I was officially interested but that it would be difficult for me to fly to see it anytime soon. "No problem", he said, "if you're serious, I'll drive it to you." A wiser man would conferred his wife first right then and there. But not this numbskull. Next thing I knew, Greg was pulling up in front of my house in a two-tone brown and copper '65 Suburban. Oops. As you might imagine, my wife was less than thrilled to see this strange truck from many states away pull up to our house and ask for her worse half by name. Without even trying to explain my actions, I purchased the truck as my wife looked on in horror. I guess I got what I deserved when she subsequently christened my newest project, "the Turd".






















Wasting no time, I yanked the drive train, interior, glass, wiring, instruments, trim pieces and weather stripping.  The more parts I peeled off , the more pleased I was by the truck's overall condition. Stripping the truck down to its skivvies, I placed all the loose parts into plastic storage tubs while the truck was away. The body appeared to be in quite good shape, with only the driver and passenger floors showing rust. Nothing that couldn't be fixed.



Below, you can see the burb ready to leave for True Grit in Round Rock, Texas to have the brown and copper paint media-blasted. Three decades worth of paint, bodywork would soon be a mere memory, replaced by clean metal. All secrets would soon be revealed. Off she goes. Farewell, my little turd.







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