Greg and Cecilia Miller’s 1952 Chevy Suburban and 1948 Palace Royale
Imagine being an American serviceman who had recently returned from abroad in World War II or Korea and having an itch to travel and explore your own country with your family. How would you embark on that journey?
Greg and Cecilia Miller pondered that notion when they took on the task of restoring this dynamic duo of a 1952 Chevy Suburban and 1948 Palace Royale camping trailer. Greg said that during the project, he often imagined what it might have been like going on road adventures with your family during those postwar years.
“This 1948 Palace Royale was the start of this beautiful four-year build,” he said. “Originally built in Flint, Michigan, it was the first travel trailer with an aluminum body stamped out like an automobile. Its Art Deco look along with the beltline below the window ties in with the 1952 Suburban that makes up the other part of the combo.”
Much more Spartan than contemporary SUVs, the Suburban has a rugged charm that matches its bare-bones nature. Greg restored it to mostly original condition, from the front beam axle, to the six-lug 16-inch wheels with 6.00×16 Coker tires. He did upgrade to front disc brakes for improved safety and road manners.
Under the hood is a torque-happy 261c.i. Jobmaster Chevy six cylinder, a much less common big brother to the standard 235c.i. Thriftmaster six cylinder of the era. It was rebuilt to essentially stock configuration but does benefit from 12-volt electronics. A four-speed transmission and heavy-duty clutch send power to 3.55:1 gears in the rearend.
The inside of the Suburban is as basic as you would expect a ’50s-era truck to be. Simple vinyl covers the seats, with a basic rubber mat on the floor. It’s a different story inside the 1948 Palace Royale trailer, which has been outfitted with both painted and brushed aluminum paneling, a comfortable bed, kitchen area, and stainless steel wet bath. New upholstery and carefully selected trim and details give it an Art Deco feel, with 12-volt electronics handling the LED lights and water pump. A 110-volt system can be used for the water heater, refrigerator, A/C, and other lighting. Additional updates for better towing include electric brakes and a new torsion axle.
Both the Suburban and the trailer are finished in matching Sherwin Williams colors of Spring Green and Honeydew. The hues not only complement each other well, they are also period appropriate and have an earthy feel, which seems fitting for vehicles that are destined to spend some quality time in natural environments.
Greg told us he was relatively new to the classic car scene. His primary passion is vintage airplanes. It’s easy to see how well his craftsmanship and attention to detail – not to mention his reverence for American history – translates over to machinery with four wheels.
Photos by Terry Lysak