Das Kommandofahrzeug (6.5L Diesel Suburban Command Vehicle)

Volume 2 Issue 2 - Diesel Articles

She hated it... of course she would... It is a real man’s truck: huge, ugly and loud – naturally, it was love at first site for me. I bought it from friends we consider family in Columbus, Ohio. They purchased it brand new on November 24th, 1993 at a downtown dealership for $26,934.72. I knew the truck had a 100% vehicle history, had never-ever been smoked in and if there was any question ever, about anything, it was a phone call away.

The only diesel vehicle I owned before was a VW Lupo 1.4 liter TurboDiesel – the only vehicle that it made any sense to own when you lived in a place like downtown Munich.

Now I live in a metropolis often referred to as Motor City, USA and while a VW Lupo 1.4TD may be hilariously fun, cool and economical; it has no place here. This city with its UAW-dominated parking lots south of the notorious Eight Mile demanded a bullet proof urban assault vehicle that smirks at the potholes big enough to swallow the little Lupo. The Suburban may lack the aramid-kevlar enforced sheet metal and true bullet proof glass of a real urban tank but it makes up for it with a stealth factor that blends into the Detroit surroundings perfectly. So when the owners decided to replace it with a Duramax-equipped Kodiak, I immediately stepped in and gladly adopted the Suburban as my own.

\Nick Buckners 6.5 L Diesel Suburban Das Kommandofahrzeug Nick Buckners 6.5 L Diesel Suburban Das Kommandofahrzeug Nick Buckners 6.5 L Diesel Suburban Das Kommandofahrzeug
Nick Buckners 6.5 L Diesel Suburban Das Kommandofahrzeug Nick Buckners 6.5 L Diesel Suburban Das Kommandofahrzeug Nick Buckner works on his VW Lupo 1.4TD
(Click on any image to enlarge. Suburban photos by Anthony Cressey)

Since then I have been driving it almost daily. My friends will tell you that I lovingly refer to it as Das Kommandofahrzeug – “Command Vehicle” in English– which I found to be the perfect nickname for this project – and it also suits my driving style.

Other than having everything from the original window sticker, all the service records, repair orders, parts receipts and fuel stops, I initially knew nothing about the truck or the 6.5 liter turbo diesel engine. Granted, over the years I had ridden in the truck many times and even helped the previous owner, a long time friend, with previous modifications, but I never stopped to think that it would one day be mine. I did know that 6.5TD Suburban’s are sought after and rare. I understood many folks search high and low before they find one in good shape. I guess I had the luck of one finding me.

Only later did I find out how lucky I was after decoding the VIN and RPO codes and reading up on the legends and myths of the 6.5. The fifth and sixth letter denote the preferable two wheel drive and three-quarter ton designation; but the most important letter, for me, is the eighth. This letter gives you the engine type and make – in my case the letter F:

  • 8 CYL, 6.5L, TURBO, HO
  • 4.10 RATIO

A truck with these options is not easy to find: they present an excellent starting point for a daily driver and weekend tow vehicle.

In this article...

  • 6.5 L Diesel Road Trip


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