It’s been nearly a century since Chevrolet produced its first ever pickup truck in 1918. Since then, Chevrolet has become a household name, with the Silverado being one of the best-selling trucks in America. But what led to the creation of the well-loved Silverado? Before the Silverado came to be, there was the Chevrolet C/K series of trucks that originated in 1960. Breaking all-time sales records in 1964, 1965, and 1966, the Chevy C/K trucks paved the way for the future of light-duty and heavy-duty pickups. While the C/K line of trucks is no longer in production today, these trucks led to the development of the Chevy Silverado that was released in 1999. The Chevrolet C/K series consisted of two-wheel drive trucks, labeled with a “C”, and four-wheel drive trucks, designated using the letter “K.” There were a few other differences between the C10 and K10, and more differences still between the C/K 10 and their larger C/K20 bretheren. But collectively, the C/K lineup looked to acommodate all needs through an array of models.
The Birth of a Legend: 1960-1966
So, what is a Chevy C10? As you might have guessed by now, the Chevy C10 was the half-ton two-wheel drive model within the C/K line of trucks. 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 was a new truck for Chevrolet. The C10 had improved weight distribution thanks to the increased load capacity of the front axle, as well as 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 featured rear wheels located on the outside of the truck bed and had a step mounted between the wheel wells and the cab. On the other hand, the Fleetside looked more linear with a flat panel cargo box.
With the exception of the four-wheel drive and forward control models, every 1960 Chevrolet truck was equipped with new independent front suspension, including the first-generation Chevy C10. Utilizing trailing arm suspension with coil springs in the rear of the truck and strong torsion bars for the front, the C10 didn’t get a suspension upgrade until 1963. In 1963, the torsion bar front suspension was replaced with coil springs and the previous six-cylinder engine options were swapped out for new 230-cubic inch and 292-cubic inch options. In the same year, the Chevy C/K line received a redesigned grille. A year later, in 1964, a curved windshield replaced the dogleg windshield found on the previous Chevy C10s. The next big change for the Chevy C10 didn’t arrive until 1967.
The Glamour Pickups: 1967-1972
Wildly popular with Chevrolet truck enthusiasts, the 1967-1972 Chevy C/K series was dubbed the Action Line trucks but are now referred to as the Glamour Pickups. Sporting a fresh modern look, the second-generation C/K line of trucks received a redesigned exterior and updated suspension. The C/K trucks received a new shape in 1967, sitting lower to the ground for easier access. For the exterior, important updates include a double-walled pickup box made of steel and rust-resistant body and sheet metal. The C-series two-wheel-drive 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. The 1972 Chevy C10 Fleetside is considered by some Chevy enthusiasts to be one of the best-looking Chevrolet trucks ever manufactured. There were eight engine options available for the second-generation C/K trucks.
1967-1972 Chevy C/K Engine Options
- 250-cubic inch I6
- 292-cubic inch I6
- 283-cubic inch V8
- 307-cubic inch V8
- 327-cubic inch V8
- 350-cubic inch V8
- 396-cubic inch V8
- 402-cubic inch V8
The Rounded-Line Generation: 1973-1987
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” pickup. Sporting a new body style that incorporated rounded corners around the wheel well in addition to a rounded windshield and door frames, the third-generation Chevy C/K trucks had an entirely new look. Larger and wider, the pickups looked more box-like, which is why they were coined the “box-body” trucks. With longer wheelbases, the Chevy C10 with a 6.5-foot box had a 117.5-inch wheelbase while the 8-foot bed had a 131.5-inch wheelbase. The third generation Chevy C10 also used rubber control arm bushings, providing the truck with 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, with two-toning a common option.
For 1972 and 1973, the same trucks 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”. For 1975, those trim levels were revised, and the Silverado luxury trim became available. In 1978, Chevy offered a 5.7L V8 diesel engine, only for the Chevy C10. More changes occurred in 1984 when the Chevy trucks sported a new two-level grille. New features also included interior door panels constructed from galvanized steel, non-asbestos rear brake linings, and semi-metallic front brake linings for the Chevy C/K 10 and C/K 20. A year later in 1985, the Chevrolet pickups received another redesign for the front end and had a sportier appearance. Marking the 75th anniversary of Chevrolet, 1986 was the year the most powerful base engine came out for Chevy trucks — the Vortec V6 with fuel injection. The last year for the Chevy C10 was in 1987, as the 1988-1998 fourth-generation Chevy C/K trucks took on a new naming structure with the 1500, 2500, and 3500.
A 1966 Chevy C10 Fleetside would have cost about $2,066, according to Automobile Magazine. Accounting for inflation, that would be equivalent to about $16,025 for the original price. Depending on the condition of the truck, a Chevy C10 can be valued anywhere from $5,000 to $25,000. For harder to find models in mint condition, that price point can obviously go a lot higher than that. However, for true Chevrolet enthusiasts, restoring a Chevy C10 back to its former glory is priceless.
Sources: hemmings.com, hhclassic.com, itstillruns.com, pickuptrucks.com, automobilemag.com | Image Credit: media.chevrolet.com, chevytrucklegends.com
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