British TV Show Goes Inside Chevy Suburban Factory

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SUV Superbuild takes a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at Arlington Assembly that you definitely don’t want to miss. 

Usually, when you hear news from General Motor’s Arlington Assembly plant in Texas, it’s that it’s adding shifts to keep up with demand for its full-size SUVs. But for anyone who isn’t an amateur GM historian, you might not know much else about it. That’s about to change, because British TV channel Quest has just gone inside Arlington Assembly for its series SUV Superbuild. The resulting documentary is simply fascinating.

“In the body shop, it takes just over eight hours to build a single body shell,” the narrator says over a fast-paced montage of factory footage. In the shop, a number of workers chime in to talk about the magic. “This is where everything starts,” John Jackson, a weld checker, says. “It comes in here as nothing, and by the time it leaves you’ve got a full truck.”

Chevrolet Suburban production like at Arlington Assembly, from 'SUV Superbuild."

1,200 automated robots do most of the dirty work. As the narration continues, we get a quick but detailed look at every inner and outer panel joining together. Then, everything is welded together and sent off to the paint shop.

In paint, the steel bodies are matched with fenders and hoods (which are hung on the same cart), while the doors are bolted on for the first time. A group of workers remove any visible blemish from the raw steel bodies, then they’re sent off for finishing.


‘This is where everything starts. It comes in here as nothing, and by the time it leaves you’ve got a full [Chevy] truck.’


Then we get a brief history lesson dating back to the Suburban’s launch in 1935. “The Suburban name goes way back,” says automotive journalist Tony Quiroga. “It’s something that means something to people and continues to mean something to people.” It shows that Chevy’s iconic SUV really hasn’t strayed far from its origins: A covered pickup truck with plenty of seating.

1935 Chevrolet Suburban on 'SUV Superbuild.'

It follows the Suburban through the ages, from its time as a darling of the military and small business. Sadly, this clip ends in the 1950s. So from here, we don’t get a big look at Arlington Assembly or Suburban history. But fear not, Quest TV offers the full episode on demand. As far as trailers go, this one definitely leaves us wanting more.

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James Derek Sapienza has worked as a writer and editor in the world of automotive journalism since 2015.

He has a BS in History at SUNY Brockport, with a focus on American popular culture. A fan of the classics with a special interest in German cars, he is a proud owner of a 1991 W124 Mercedes. He is a frequent contributor to Mustang Forums, MBWorld, 5Series, Rennlist, and more.

Sapienza can be reached at [email protected]

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