What Happened to the Suburban?
The original Art of Diesel project!
A decade ago I had an idea for a great project. I was already a big fan of the torque and efficiency that diesel engines can provide, but I couldn’t get a good-sized SUV family-hauling machine with a diesel engine in it…or at least not one that was as efficient as it should be.
I took it upon myself put an Isuzu 3.9 liter four cylinder engine (a 4BD1T) into a 1999 Suburban. I coupled it with an NV4500 5-speed manual transmission while maintaining four wheel drive capabilities and creature comforts like air conditioning.
Best of all: it got 26 mpg on the highway, twice the real-world fuel economy for a 1999 Suburban you’ll find if you check Fuelly.com.
As I worked on the project, I was hoping to find a book guiding me through the process and found that no such book existed. I could only dig and dig through forums for the gold nuggets of information I needed. Because no such book existed, I documented the project with my book The Art of Diesel, which is still available on Amazon.
As time passed I chose to pursue other diesel projects, but didn’t really have the time to document them. We were homeschooling children and I had a crazy day-job in the years that followed. Also, the salvage yard engine in my Suburban failed and I chose to pursue some Mercedes projects for even higher efficiency at a lower price point.
I sold the Suburban to a gentleman who didn’t do anything with it for a couple years. Then another gentleman, a diesel mechanic, purchased it from him and contacted me on and off for the next year or so as he fixed it back up, improved it, and got it back on the road. It now has a bigger turbo, a bigger intercooler, and looked really good when he was in the area and brought it by my work to show it off.
He has a wife and young children, so I’m glad to say that the Suburban still lives and is being put to good use!
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