Chevy C10 and C20 Differences

Chevy C10 and C20 Differences

Last Updated June 12, 2019 | Meghan Drummond
Contents

The obvious difference between the C10 and the C20 is that one is a half ton and the other a three-quarter ton truck. These classifications don’t refer to their respective curb weights, but rather to their payload capacity.

Payload capacity is the difference between a vehicle’s curb weight and its weight capacity, so the total weight of cargo that each can ideally carry. Over time that definition has become less literal and exists more as a way of distinguishing respective capacity. There’s a lot to be said about pickup sizes and how they’ve changed over time, but what it boils down to for you is that C20s are heavier, and subsequently capable of towing a greater weight.

The less obvious differences are why one makes a better hotrod than the other and why you might jump at the chance to daily drive a C10 but feel slightly differently about a C20. If you’re wondering which classic pickup is for you, then there are a few other more subtle differences to consider.

A restored turquoise and white C10

Seating Capacity

If you’re looking for a classic pickup that has a backseat, you’re definitely going to want to get a C20. The C10 was never available in a Crew Cab or Bonus Cab, but the C20 was. The Crew Cab had a backseat, and the bonus cab had additional storage, great for a pet or just for keeping things covered and secure instead of in the bed.

The C20 also has a roomier interior, though both had nearly identical trim package offerings, so the comfort features in each are similar. Depending on which trim package you selected you could have anything from a bare-bones outfit to ultra plush seats and every feature available in the 1970s and 1980s (it’s not a long list).

Towing Capacity

The C10 was no lightweight, capable of hauling anywhere between 4,000 and 6,000 pounds easily depending on which engine and other options you selected. But the C20 could haul significantly more.

In 1962, the two C10 options had a maximum payload capacity of 1,500 pounds for the Fleetside model and 1,550 pounds for the Stepside. The C20 had a payload capacity of 3,400 pounds in either the Fleetside or the Stepside model. That’s a significant difference.

Perhaps nothing makes the difference in their towing capacity more clear than when Chevy elected to extend the Custom Camper trim package to the C10.

The C10 got a camper shell, sure, but the C20 could pull a full camper, with enough gear for a family getaway. It’s a difference that’s significant and is obviously heavily impacted by what activities you’re most interested in doing with your pickup.

A C20 with a large camper attached

Suspension Differences

The suspension differences between the C10 and the C20 depend largely on which year you’re looking at, with some years having more significant differences than others as Chevy tried to figure out exactly how these two trucks complemented each other.

Ultimately, the C10 most often came with a semi-floating rear suspension as opposed to the C20s full floating rear suspension. A full floating rear suspension means that the vehicle weight is carried on the axle casing rather than on the half shafts which are instead allowed to “float” inside the assembly.

A full floating suspension design means that the C20 can safely carry bigger loads; it also means that in the event of an accident the wheel will not necessarily come off with the axle, which is a nice safety feature.

C20s also frequently came with substantially heavier duty springs and often were available with options like a heavy duty stabilizer bar that the C10 didn’t have access to.

Power

Though initially the C10 and C20 sported nearly identical engine options, that changed, and by the early 1980s, the C20 often had two or three additional larger engines, including a big 7.4L engine that included the floating rear suspension.

The largest option for the C10 at that time was a 5.0L V8.

On the other hand, if you’re already planning to do an engine swap, then putting the same size engine in the C10 and the C20 would have more effect on the C10 due to its significantly lighter curb weight. This is the reason a lot of people like to convert the C10 into a drag truck, and it lends itself to that purpose better than the bulkier C20.

Aftermarket Support

Thankfully, many of the same parts designed for C10s will work on a C20 since they are so similar. Things like the fuel filter and air cleaner elements are virtually identical, and even many body and interior parts can be traded around.

It is important to double check any individual part that you have your eye on against the specs in your owner’s manual though.

C10 aftermarket parts range from maintenance and restoration pieces to parts that can allow for a completely unique truck experience.

Differences By Year

1960, 1961, and 1962

In the early years of the C10 and C20’s production, they were very similar. The C20 was larger and had a larger towing capacity, and had 8 stud wheels instead of 6 studs. These differences would persist through the life span of both trucks.

1963

In 1963, major engineering shifts were made for all of the C Series pickups, including an increase in the size of their side rails. The C10’s grew from .119 inches to .156, and the C20’s grew from .149 to .194.

The design of the upper and lower control arms was changed, and with that change, the C20 was moved to using tapered roller front wheel bearings rather than the traditional ball-type bearings.

1964 and 1965

The C20’s rear springs were improved and replaced with springs that were hardier than the C10’s. There was also an option to upgrade the front springs.

Dually rear tires were offered as an option for C20s during this time, though that option went away later.

1966

1966 was one of the years with the most differences between the C10 and the C20. The C20 was available with custom camper equipment, which included 7.50” x 16” tires, auxiliary rear springs, heavy-duty rear shock absorbers, front stabilizer bar, and a host of other less-performance enhancing features like a chromed front bumper and hubcaps.

The C20 moved to using a full floating suspension this year as well.

1967

The C10 received a custom camper package this year as well, but it had significantly fewer tire options and smaller rear springs. Given the C10s reduced payload capacity, it was really more of a camper shell package.

A C10 with a camper shell

1972

This was the first year where the C20 came standard with power brakes, while the C10 only had them available as optional equipment. It was also the first year where the C20 was available with engine options that the C10 could not come equipped with. The C20 could also come with a larger clutch and fuel tank.

1977

Chevy tried to introduce a model that would slot in between the C10 and the C20 known as “The Big Ten.” This didn’t affect the options for either substantially, but it did give Chevy more space to play with the differences between the two. This model was only available until 1981.

1985

For the final years of the C10, both it and the C20 came standard with power brakes.

Is a C10 or C20 a Better Fit for You?

So, the biggest difference is size, but there are several other differences impacted by that which may make either a C10 or a C20 a better fit for you. Regardless of which you decide suits your needs, you’ll be getting an eye-catching vintage truck that’s like riding in a piece of history that you can make yours.

Though the differences between these two are significant, they share a common history, and more than a few pieces, so feel free to mix and match as you work on making your classic Chevy yours!

Chevy C10 vs Chevy C20 Trucks

Chevy’s C10 and C20 trucks are both classics and come with many of the same options. Where they differ is what can make one a better fit for you and your pickup needs.

Related Resources

Chevy C10 vs K10 Chevy C10 vs K10

Both part of the popular Chevrolet C/K series of trucks, the Chevy C10 and K10 share many similarities. With a half-ton rating, the C10 and K10 can be considered light-duty trucks. However, one major difference between the C10 and K10 is that the C10 is a two-wheel drive truck, while the K10 has four-wheel drive. So while the K10 is more capable for the trail, the C10 makes a great everyday truck. Regardless of the model, these two trucks are both classic Chevy pickups that still remain relevant to this day.

Truck Sizes & Classes Truck Sizes & Classes

From light-duty pickups to heavy-duty haulers, there is a class for each and every type of truck. In America, truck classes rely upon the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating scale created by the U.S. Department of Transportation. The GVWR classification system determines truck sizes and includes eight total classes, ranging from less than 6,000 pounds to over 33,000 pounds.

Square Body Chevy Identification Guide Square Body Chevy Identification Guide

From 1973-1987, the square body Chevy was one of the best-selling trucks in the industry. Because they were produced for 14 years, they are a favorite with classic truck enthusiasts as they are easy to find and relatively affordable. In order to help you distinguish the different model years, CJ’s put together an identification guide for the third-generation C/K trucks. Before you embark on your restoration process, decide on which box body Chevy is right for you.

Chevy C10 Maintenance Guide Chevy C10 Maintenance Guide

We’ve compiled a maintenance schedule for your Chevy C10 to keep it running well. Here are what services to perform at which intervals, as well as detailed instructions for how to do many maintenance procedures yourself.