Is it bigger than a breadbox?

Young Guns and Mopar lovers born before 1960 might not remember that phrase, but ask some of the more senior ChryCo devotees and they certainly will. They also might have a memory or two of the '53-'54 Plymouth Suburban wagons--but not ones done up like Burl Cohen's.

Burl's two-door, all-steel-body, '53 wagon was built by Chrysler at a time when it had an assembly plant in San Leandro, California, so there's a chance it was put together there instead of at Lynch Road. Burl lives in Pasadena, California, and his Plymouth received a lot of customizing touches usually seen on West Coast brand-X shoebox cars of the '50s. That includes a tasteful reslicing of its loaf-like body profile, including a sizeable chop to the top, while keeping the wagon's remaining body panels intact. Then it needed some serious metal finishing before the first drop of primer went on, which preceded the spraying on of its Red Pearl paint.

Underneath all that is where the big work was done. A '79 Camaro Z/28 gave up its front subframe and front suspension, which were clipped onto the Plymouth's frame with a same-vintage Mopar F-Body steering box added on. In back, a '72 Valiant provided the 8 3/4-inch rearend and rear leaf springs. KYB Gas-A-Just shocks are on each corner. Inside the wheelwells, there's a set of smoothies from Wheel Smith wearing 60-series Firestone rubber.

Into that updated chassis went a period-correct engine and a 315-inch Dodge Red Ram Hemi--a cool choice for an early '50s Mopar. It was treated to an .060-inch overbore and a rebuild--thanks to a good supply of original and repro early Hemi internal parts found in SoCal---and plenty of underhood chrome. Rounding out the powertrain is a built 727.

The Suburban's interior got grey velour-upholstered Ford EXP front seats that replaced the original "chair-high" front bench, plus a Grant steering wheel on the Mopar F-body steering column. There's also a custom console with the 727's shifter in it, a set of modern gauges, and a sound system that benefits from the updated 12-volt electrical system.