1978 Chevy Truck Specs and Features

1978 Chevy Truck Specs and Features

Last Updated September 6, 2019 | Meghan Drummond
Contents

In 1978, Chevy trucks were rapidly improving, and consequently, their specifications did as well. Whether you’re restoring a classic Chevy truck, looking to buy a used one, or just feeling nostalgic, understanding the technical specifications and features for these trucks can be helpful.

1978 C/K Pickup Differences

In ’78, the C/K series pickup trucks had been joined by “The Big Ten” a short-lived model designed to fall in between the C10 and the C20 in terms of capability. The biggest difference between the C10 and the C20 was their gross vehicle weight capacity, and the biggest difference between the C-series and K-series pickups was that one had two-wheel drive and the other was four-wheel drive, but there were a few other differences as well.

When you start to look at things like the axle ratio and brakes, the differences start to become more clear.

A dark green and white C20 sideview
The C20

1978 Chevy Truck Specification Comparison
FeatureC10Big 10C20K10K20
GVWR 4,900-5,600 pounds 6,050-6,200 pounds 6,400-8,200 pounds 6,200 pounds 6,800-8,400 pounds
Drivetrain RWD RWD RWD 4WD 4WD
Axle Ratio 3.07:1 3.40:1 4.10:1 4.11:1 4.10:1
Front Brakes 11.86" Rotor 11.86" Rotor 12.5" Rotor 11.86" Rotor 12.5" Rotor
Rear Brakes 11" x 2" Drum Brakes 11.15" x 2.75" Drum Brakes 11.15" x 2.75" Drum Brakes 11.15" x 2.75" Drum Brakes 11.15" x 2.75" Drum Brakes
Dimensions for 1978 Fleetside Chevy Trucks
ModelCurb WeightWheelbaseOverall LengthHeight
C10 Short Bed 3,615 pounds 117.5 inches 191.5 inches 69.8 inches
C10 Long Bed 3,779 pounds 131.5 inches 211.4 inches 69.8 inches
Big Ten Short Bed 3,716 pounds 117.5 inches 191.5 inches 69.8 inches
Big Ten Long Bed 3,881 pounds 131.5 inches 211.4 inches 69.8 inches
C20 Regular Cab 4,300 pounds 131.5 inches 211.4 inches 70.8 inches
C20 Bonus or Crew Cab 4,660-4,895 pounds 164.5 inches 244.4 inches 72.1 inches
K10 Short Bed 4,080 pounds 117.5 inches 192.2 inches 71.9 inches
K10 Long Bed 4,256 pounds 131.5 inches 212.1 inches 73.9 inches
Dimensions of 1978 Stepside Chevy Trucks
ModelCurb WeightWheelbaseOverall LengthHeight
C10 Short Bed 3,555 pounds 117.5 inches 190.7 inches 69.8 inches
C10 Long Bed 3,698 pounds 131.5 inches 210.6 inches 69.8 inches
Big Ten Short Bed 3,657 pounds 117.5 inches 190.7 inches 69.8 inches
Big Ten Long Bed 3,800 pounds 131.5 inches 210.6 inches 69.8 inches
C20 Long Bed 4,029 pounds 131.5 inches 210.6 inches 71 inches
K10 Short Bed 4,020 pounds 117.5 inches 191.3 inches 72.0 inches
K10 Long Bed 4,175 pounds 131.5 inches 211.2 inches 72.0 inches
K20 Long Bed 4,416 pounds 131.5 inches 211.2 inches 74 inches

Engine and Transmission Specifications

hood open on pickup showing engine

Of course, when it comes to performance, people are most interested in engine options. Though all of the C and K series came standard with one of Chevy’s famed inline-six cylindered engines, there were many different engine and transmission options based on which pickup you felt would best meet your needs. There were both small and big block V8 engines available in 1978.

Other than cylinders and horsepower, there are actually a remarkable number of similarities between the engines. They all use an oiled paper air filter, a throwaway style oil filter, and have similar maintenance routines.

Perhaps just as important as the engine is the transmission. For 1978, there were four available transmissions, one of which was automatic. The automatic transmission was the only option for the LF4 and LF8 engines, which were the largest displacement engine choices. The default transmission for other engines was the Muncie three-speed manual.

1978 Chevy Truck Engines
EngineModelsRPO CodeHorsepowerTorqueFiring Order
250 CID L6 C10
Big Ten
K10
LD4 115 hp @ 3,800 RPM 195 lb-ft @ 1,800 RPM 1,5,3,6,2,4
292 CID L6 C20
K20
L25 120 hp @ 3,600 RPM 215 lb-ft @ 2,000 RPM 1,5,3,6,2,4
305 CID V8 Optional for:
C10
LG9 145 hp @ 3,800 RPM 245 lb-ft @ 2,400 RPM 1,8,4,3,6,5,7,2
350 CID V8 Optional for:
C10
Big Ten
C20
K10
LS9 155 hp @ 3,800 RPM 250 lb-ft @ 2,400 RPM 1,8,4,3,6,5,7,2
400 CID V8 Optional for:
K10
K20
LF4 155 hp @ 3,800 RPM 290 lb-ft @ 2,800 RPM 1,8,4,3,6,5,7,2
454 CID V8 Optional for:
C10
Big Ten
C20
LF8 240 hp @ 3,800 RPM 370 lb-ft @ 2,800 RPM 1,8,4,3,6,5,7,2
1978 Chevy Truck Transmissions
TransmissionEnginesFirst GearSecond GearThird GearFourth GearReverse
Three-Speed LD Muncie Manual Transmission LD4, LG9, LS9,and L25 2.85:1 1.68:1 1.00:1 N/A 2.95:1
Three-Speed HD Tremac Manual Transmission LD4, LG9, LS9, and L25 2.99:1 1.75:1 1.00:1 N/A 3.17:1
Four-Speed Manual Transmission Optional for LD4, LS9, and L25 6.56:1 3.58:1 1.70:1 1.00:1 6.09:1
Three-Speed Automatic Standard on LF4 and LF8
Optional for All
5.70:1 3.40:1 2.30:1 N/A 4.83:1

Chevy Truck Prices

At first glance, the prices of the entire Chevy lineup might appear to be remarkably close, but that’s why we’ve included a figure that accounts for inflation. The buying value of a dollar was very different in 1978 than it is today.

Though the cost of pickups at the time was still relatively low, many of the most popular options were “a la carte” and could increase the cost of a truck significantly.

Optional equipment, paint colors, engines, and all other variables in each Chevy truck are represented on the original build list as an “RPO code.” Knowing these RPO codes can be helpful if you’re shopping for a used C10 and want to know if the original equipment is intact.

A build sheet with RPO codes
RPO Codes

After reviewing the cost of individual amenities as adjusted for inflation, it’s easy to see why trim packages were successful for Chevy trucks. Not only did they bundle together some of the most popular features, but they also provided a discount when purchased that way. The original trim packages for 1978 included the Scottsdale, the Cheyenne, and the top-of-the-line Silverado.

1978 Chevy Truck Cost
ModelCostAdjusted for Inflation
C10 Stepside Short Bed $4,220 $16,575.28
C10 Stepside Long Bed $4,295 $16,869.86
C10 Fleetside Short Bed $4,220 $16,575.28
C10 Fleetside Long Bed $4,295 $16,869.86
C20 Stepside $4,778 $18,766.99
C20 Fleetside $4,778 $18,766.99
C20 Bonus Cab $5,477 $21,512.51
C20 Crew Cab $5,848 $22,969.72
K10 Short Bed Stepside $5,693 $22,360.92
K10 Stepside Long Bed $5,768 $22,655.50
K10 Fleetside Short Bed $5,693 $22,360.92
K10 Fleetside Long Bed $5,768 $22,655.50
K20 Stepside $6,127 $24,065.58
K20 Fleetside $6,127 $24,065.58
Common Options for 1978 Chevy Trucks
OptionRPO CodeCostCost Adjusted for InflationNotes
Air Conditioning C60 $550 $2,160.29
Power Brakes J50 $74 $290.66 Only Optional for C10
Heavy-Duty Power Brakes J55 $135 for C10
$61 for Other Models
$530.25
$239.60
Electric Clock U35 $52 $204.25 $25 if Silverado Package Ordered
Heavy-Duty Radiator VO1 $39 $153.18 Not available with AC
Power Door Locks AU3 $90 $353.50 Only Available with Regular Cab
Cigarette Lighter U37 $17 $66.77 Included with Most Trim Packages
Painted Exterior Mirrors D29 $28 $109.98
Stainless Steel Exterior Mirrors DG4 $52 $204.25
AM Radio U63 $86 $337.79
AM/FM Radio U69 $167 $655.94
Heavy-Duty Shock Absorbers F51 $25 $98.19 Standard on K10 and K20
Power Steering N41 $187 $734.50 Standard on K10 and K20
Cost of Trim Packages for 1978 Chevy Trucks
ModelScottsdale Trim Package (Z62)Adjusted for InflationCheyenne Trim Package (Z84)Adjusted for InflationSilverado Trim Package (YE9)Adjusted for Inflation
C10 Stepside $251 $985.88 $388 $1,523.98 $464 $1,822.50
C10 Fleetside $310 $1,217.62 $464 $1,822.50 $629 $2,470.58
C20 Stepside $251 $985.88 $388 $1,523.98 $464.00 $1,822.50
C20 Fleetside $310 $1,217.62 $464 $1,822.50 $629 $2,470.58
C20 Bonus Cab $253 $993.73 N/A N/A $677 $2,659.11
C20 Crew Cab $284 $1,115.49 N/A N/A $761 $2,989.05
K10 Stepside $235 $923.03 $358 $1,406.15 $431 $1,692.88
K10 Fleetside $294 $1,154.77 $434 $1,704.66 $599 $2,352.75
K20 Stepside $235 $923.03 $358 $1,406.15 $431 $1,692.88
K20 Fleetside $294 $1,154.77 $434 $1,704.66 $599 $2,352.75

1978 Chevy Truck Exterior Options

Front end of a red and white Chevy pickup
Two-Tone Colors

1978 didn’t bring many new colors for the Chevy truck lineup, but the abundant color combinations offered ample opportunity to customize your truck’s exterior. In keeping with the ‘70s, there are somehow four colors that are either “tan” or “brown.” Though neither of those palettes is particularly eye-catching on its own, they were most frequently paired with bolder colors to create interesting combinations.

Stepside or Fleetside pickups could come in a solid paint scheme or a Conventional Two-Tone where the secondary color was painted on the cab roof and back panel only.

Fleetside pickups had a few additional options. There was a Special Two-Tone, where the secondary color was used in-between the upper and lower moldings (if a trim package with moldings was not being added then the moldings needed to be added ala carte). They also had the option of a Deluxe Two-Tone, which was the same as the Special Two-Tone but included the top of the cab as well.

1978 Chevy Trucks Paint Codes
ColorCodeAvailable Secondary ColorsSecondary Color Codes
Frost White 12 Light Blue
Buckskin
Holly Green
Mahogany
20
65
46
76
Saratoga Silver 17 Holly Green
Mahogany
Frost White
46
76
12
Light Blue 20 Frost White 12
Hawaiian Blue 23 Light Blue
Frost White
20
12
Mariner Blue 25 Light Blue
Frost White
20
12
Seamist Green 43 Holly Green
Frost White
46
12
Holly Green 46 Buckskin
Santa Fe Tan
Frost White
65
60
12
Colonial Yellow 53 Santa Fe Tan
Frost White
60
12
Santa Fe Tan 60 Buckskin
Holly Green
Mahogany
Frost White
65
46
76
12
Buckskin 65 Mahogany
Santa Fe Tan
Frost White
76
60
12
Russet Metallic 68 Buckskin
Santa Fe Tan
Frost White
65
60
12
Cardinal Red 70 Mahogany
Santa Fe Tan
Frost White
76
60
12
Red Metallic 71 Buckskin
Mahogany
Santa Fe Tan
Frost White
65
76
60
12
Mahogany 76 Santa Fe Tan
Frost White
60
12
Cordova Brown 81 Buckskin
Santa Fe Tan
Frost White
65
60
12

Truck Bed Options

A bright red pickup that’s lifted and has a boxy bed
Stepside Style Bed

Stepside vs Fleetside

One of the first bed-related choices that customers ordering a new Chevy truck in 1978 had to make was whether they wanted a Stepside or a Fleetside bed. The Stepside essentially has a slightly narrower portion before the rear fender, creating a “step” that some found desirable. This was overwhelmingly the less popular choice though, with more people gravitating towards the smooth sides of a Fleetside truck.

The preference for Fleetsides wasn’t simply due to appearances though, there were also more options available for Fleetside trucks, and they had a larger volume capacity than their Stepsided siblings.

In its short bed form, the Stepside had a volume of 39.7 cubic feet while the Fleetside had 58.4 cubic feet. In long bed form, the Stepside increased to 49.8 cubic feet and the Fleetside increased to 74.3 cubic feet.

Short vs Long Bed

Short and long beds were available in Stepside and Fleetside variants for Chevy trucks. The short bed was 6.5 feet and the long bed was 8 feet. This foot and a half difference has affected the popularity of both models fairly considerably.

Though both short and long beds were sold fairly evenly in 1978, people looking for used Chevy trucks now overwhelmingly prefer the short bed variant. Fortunately, there are ways of shortening the bed.

Steel vs Wood Floored Beds

The short bed Fleetside was exclusively sold in a steel floor, but for a long bed or any size of Stepside pickup the floor was comprised of “kiln-dried” sealed wood boards held in position with steel skid strips. These wood floors are great if they’ve been kept in good condition, but sadly many have not and require extensive restoration.

While steel beds in need of refresh can simply be replaced, wood beds require a little more work. The best approach is to work with them the way you might wood boards on a deck that need to be refinished and resealed. Sand away any parts that have become damaged or splintered and any damaged coating, then reseal with a polyurethane coat.

Some bold DIYers have noted that the “T” door strips from a home supply shop can serve as a replacement for the steel skid strips, and recommend replacing any rotting or damaged boards with white pine.

1978 Chevy Truck Parts

Given the customization options and relatively affordable cost, it’s no wonder that 1978 was such a successful year for Chevy trucks. Thanks to their popularity at the time, we have a plethora of used trucks from this era just waiting to be bought, restored, or modified into something wholly unique.

Whether you’re putting the finishing touches on a C10 you’re restoring or looking for a part to complete some much needed C10 maintenance, you’ll find Chevy C10 parts here at CJ’s.

Classic trucks are growing in popularity, and as they do we’ll continue to see more opportunities for taking these old specifications and using them in new ways.

Image Credit: Mecum, Barrett-Jackson, Bring a Trailer, Hemmings, Cinema Vehicle

1978 Chevy Truck Specs and Features

1978 Chevy C/K trucks were immediately popular in their own time and remain so today. If you’re wondering what the original specifications looked like for these trucks, or what options were favorites from the factory, here are all the relevant numbers and facts.