What Is a Chevy C10?

What Is a Chevy C10?

Last Updated July 24, 2020 | Alison Smith
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It’s been over a century since Chevrolet produced its first-ever pickup truck in 1918. Since then, Chevy has become a household name with its best-selling Silverado. But before the Silverado, there was the Chevrolet C/K series of trucks that originated in 1960. Breaking all-time sales records in 1964, 1965, and 1966, the C/K trucks paved the way for the future of light-duty and heavy-duty pickups.

What Does the “C” in C10 Mean?

The “C” in C10 indicates that the truck is a two-wheel drive model. The Chevrolet C/K series consisted of two-wheel drive trucks, labeled with a “C”, and four-wheel drive trucks, designated by the letter “K.” The C10 was the half-ton, two-wheel-drive model within the C/K line of trucks.

There were a few other differences between the C10 and K10, and more differences still between the C10 and their larger C20 brethren. But collectively, the C/K lineup was meant to accommodate all needs through an array of models.

Red 1967 Chevy C10 with red wheels parked in front of a barn

Chevy C10 Generations

Although there are four generations of Chevy C/K trucks, there are only three C10 generations. In 1988, the C/K trucks took on a new naming structure with the 1500, 2500, and 3500. Chevy still uses these designations for the Silverado to this day.

First-Generation C10: 1960-1966

Light blue 1965 C10 Suburban at a family picnic with tailgate open

The C10 was a new type of truck for Chevrolet. It was originally available in a 6.5-foot bed with a 115-inch wheelbase and an 8-foot bed with a 127-inch wheelbase. The C10 had improved weight distribution compared to previous Chevy trucks thanks to the increased load capacity of the front axle. It also featured a larger cab and bigger windshield.

Body styles of the Chevy C10 include the Stepside, Fleetside, Suburban SUV, panel truck, or a custom option. The Stepside had rear wheels located on the outside of the truck bed with a step mounted between the wheel wells and the cab. While the Stepside had dimension, the Fleetside looked more linear with a flat panel cargo box. There were a few C10 trim packages available that allowed you to customize the appearance and features of your truck.

Except for the 4WD and forward control models, every 1960 Chevy truck had a new independent front suspension. This included the first-gen C10. It sported a trailing arm suspension with coil springs in the rear and strong torsion bars in the front. A suspension upgrade didn’t happen until a few years later.

In 1963, the torsion bar front suspension was replaced with coil springs. The previous six-cylinder engine options were also swapped out for new 230-cubic inch and 292-cubic inch engines. In the same year, the Chevy C/K line received a redesigned grille. A year later, a curved windshield replaced the dogleg windshield found on the early C10 models. The next big change for the Chevy C10 didn’t arrive until 1967, when the second generation was released.

Second-Generation C10: 1967-1972

Wildly popular with Chevy truck enthusiasts, the 1967-1972 Chevy C/K series was dubbed the “Action Line” trucks. They’re now commonly referred to as the Glamour Pickups due to their remarkable good looks. With a redesigned exterior and updated suspension, the second-gen C10 had a fresh, modern style. The refresh gave the C/K trucks a new shape that sat lower to the ground for easier access.

Blue 1967 Chevy C10 Fleetside being loaded with boxes

For the exterior, important updates included a double-walled pickup box made of steel and rust-resistant body and sheet metal. The C-series trucks received an independent coil spring trailing arm for the front suspension. In 1971, the trucks were given an egg-crate grille and tailgate trim. The interior got some upgrades as well, such as increased padding and insulation, carpet, chrome trim, and the option for an AM/FM radio.

The front drum brakes were ditched for disc brakes, a first for the C/K series. Also in 1971, the Cheyenne trim package became available. There were eight engine options available for the second-generation C/K trucks.

The 1972 C10 Fleetside is considered by some enthusiasts to be one of the best-looking Chevy trucks ever made. If you have one of these popular vintage trucks, check out our selection of 1972 Chevy C10 parts for ways to restore or upgrade it.

Third-Generation: 1973-1987

Orange 1976 Chevy C10 Stepside with motorcycles in the bed

Officially named the “Rounded-Line” trucks by GM, the 1973-1987 Chevy C/K trucks were known more casually as the “Box Body” or “Square Body” generation. They had an entirely new look with a body style that incorporated rounded corners around the wheel well along with a rounded windshield and door frames. The larger and wider body is what made these pickups box-like, which is what gave them the Square Body moniker.

The third-gen C10 models had longer wheelbases than their predecessors. The C10 with a 6.5-foot bed had a 117.5-inch wheelbase while the 8-foot bed had a 131.5-inch wheelbase. The third-gen trucks also used rubber control arm bushings for a more comfortable ride. For the rear, the truck featured leaf springs rather than coil springs and finned rear brake drums. The new Chevy C/K trucks looked more luxurious than earlier models. Two-toning was a common paint option on these trucks.

Red 1987 Chevy C10 Silverado on work site

For 1972 and 1973, the same trims were offered, except the Longhorn edition. The Cheyenne and Cheyenne Super, as well as the Custom and Custom Deluxe, were the available trim levels. The Chevy C10 with a 6.5-foot bed was dubbed the “Fleetwood.” Those trim levels were revised in 1975, and the Silverado luxury trim became available.

In 1978, Chevy offered a 5.7L V8 diesel engine for the C10. More changes occurred in 1984 when the C/K trucks saw the addition of a new two-level grille. Other new features included interior door panels constructed from galvanized steel, non-asbestos rear brake linings, and semi-metallic front brake linings for the C/K 10 and C/K 20.

A year later in 1985, the Chevy pickups received another redesign for the front end that gave them an even sportier appearance. Marking the 75th anniversary of Chevrolet, 1986 was the year the most powerful base engine at the time came out for Chevy trucks: the Vortec V6 with fuel injection. The last year for the Chevy C10 was in 1987. The C/K trucks began using the 1500, 2500, and 3500 naming structure the following year.

The Legacy of the Chevy C10

The Chevy C10 was one of the best-selling trucks of its time. Its popularity helped solidify Chevy as one of the top pickup truck manufacturers in America. Without the C10, there would probably be no Chevy Silverado.

Sadly, the C/K line of trucks is no longer in production today. But, these trucks are still very popular in the restoration community. Due to their high production numbers, it’s not too difficult to buy a used C10. While faithful restorations are common, many owners choose to restomod their C10s to bring them up to modern standards.

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Sources: hemmings.com, hhclassic.com, itstillruns.com, automobilemag.com

What Is a Chevy C10?

Everyone’s heard of the Chevy Silverado. But what about its predecessor, the C10? The C10 was included in the Chevrolet C/K line of trucks, debuting in 1960. It led to the creation of the Silverado and plays an important role in automotive history.