Chevrolet has been producing trucks for so long, and we still see a lot of the very old ones still running well in restored or maintained condition. The "C" refers to the series of rear-wheel-drive models, while the “K” designation is for the 4WD series. GMC has also adopted this naming series starting in the 1960s.
The number designation in the Chevy C/K trucks name refers to their load capacities in a half ton (C10), three-quarter ton (C20) and one ton (C30). The C/K truck was built in either short-bed or long-bed version and is one of the most popular pickup trucks ever produced worldwide.
First Generation: Apaches (1960-1966)
The first generation of the C10/C20/C30 was introduced in 1959 and was sold as a 1960 model. For the first time, a truck was produced with almost the same conveniences and ride quality of a car. Using a drop-centre ladder structure, the C truck's cab sat low on the frame and was equipped with low-profile seats.
Two body styles were available, the “Fleetside” which had smooth panel sides running down each side and the “Stepside” which had a contoured fender well over the rear wheels with a step placed between the cab and the well. The truck bed measured either 2 m or 2.4 m. The wheelbase varied depending on the tonnage – the C10’s wheelbase measured 2,921-mm wheelbase, the C20 3,226 mm, and the C30 3,378 mm.
There were different petrol engines available for the light truck series, namely:
- ·3.9L 235cid I6 (100 kW), 1960-1963
- 4.3L 261cid I6 (112 kW), 1960-1963
- 4.6L 283cid V8 (134 kW), 1960-1963
- 3.8L 230cid I6 (134 kW), 1963
- ·4.8L 292cid I6 (134 kW), 1963
- 5.3L 327cid V8 (164 kW), 1965
In 1963, the C10/C20/30 received the new coil spring front suspension. The wraparound windshield was eliminated in 1964, and air conditioning became an option. The first generation was sold until 1966.
Second Generation: Action Line (1967-1972)
The new light trucks, or commonly referred to as pickups, were released in 1967. Comfort and convenience features were added. A new coil spring trailing arm rear suspension replaced the hard-riding traditional leaf springs for the C10 and C20. The C30 still retained the leaf spring rear suspension, while the coil spring was offered as an option. All light trucks came with an independent front suspension. The 4WD models were fitted with the standard leaf springs on all corners.
Through the life of this generation, different engine options were available.
- 4.8L 292cid I6 (134 kW), 1967-1972
- 5.3L 327cid V8 (164 kW), 1967
- 5.0L 307cid V8 (149 kW), 1968
- 6.5L 396cid V8 (242 kW), 1968, C20/C30 only
- 4.1L 250cid I6 (115 kW), 1967-1972
- 5.7L 350cid V8 (115 kW), 1969-1972
In 1968, the small rear window was replaced with a full-sized window, and side-marker reflectors were added to all the fenders. Trim levels available were the Standard, Custom and CST (Custom Sport Truck) from 1967-1970. In 1971, this was changed to Custom, Custom Deluxe and Cheyenne. Then further from 1971-1972, the trim levels offered were Custom, Custom Deluxe, Cheyenne and Cheyenne Super.
Third Generation (1973-1987)
The third generation was an all-new design which featured the square or box body design that was now becoming very popular for cars in that era. The wheelbase was extended with the short-wheelbase version becoming 2,985mm and the long-wheelbase now at 3,340 mm. The C30 was now available with a crew cab.
Available directly through dealers, Australian versions were marketed as the Ute (pickup truck) starting in 1975. The C20 and C30 were initially available with the 4.8L 292cid I6 (94 kW / 298 N⋅m) which was later changed to the 5.7L 350cid V8 (123 kW / 346 N⋅m) starting in 1980. The C20 and C30 were only sold directly by dealers from 1975 to 1981.
Over the life of the third generation C10/C20/30, numerous engine options were available worldwide. The Australian powerplant versions were:
- 4.1L 250cid I6 (115 kW), C10
- 4.8L 292cid I6 (134 kW), C20 & C30
- 5.7L 350cid V8 (115 kW), C20 & C30
- 7.4L 454cid V8 (171 kW), C20 & C30
- 4.3L 262cid V6 (155 kW), C10 & C20
- 6.2L 379cid V8 Detroit diesel (100 kW), C20 & C30
- 5.0L 305cid V8 (120 kW), C10 & C20
Over the years, Chevrolet sold different models of the C10, C20 and C30 with different engine combinations and body styles. Body styles offered in Australia included the 2-door Chassis & Cab, 2-door Fleetside Pickup, 2-door Stepside Pickup, 4-door Crew Cab Pickup and 4-door Crew Chassis & Cab. This generation also saw the introduction of dual rear wheel option called the “Big Dooley” and was available for the C30.
Numerous interior and trim packages were available during its fifteen years. The interior packages were now available with soft-touch materials and high-quality trims never before seen in a pickup. Safety belts and collapsible steering columns were also integrated to provide more safety features.
In 1981, a mid-cycle refresh was incorporated and featured design changes on the front exterior and interior. The round headlamps were changed to square units, and a new grille was installed. It was not the first redesign, though, since numerous other small changes were incorporated starting from 1975, depending on the country where the C/K was sold.
Fourth Generation (1988-2002)
The fourth generation was not officially sold in Australia, but Holden imported the GMC "C" starting in 1996 for use as ambulances. These were now based on the GMT400 platform which included body styles for eight different versions, Fleetside Single Cab, Fleetside Extended Cab, Fleetside Crew Cab and Stepside Single Cab which were available in either “C” (2WD) or “K” (4WD).
The models were now equipped with safety and convenience features in keeping with the times and regulations. The interior packages also varied from base models to the top-of-the-line offering.
Several engines were available depending on the model and trim packages optioned. Over the years, the basic powerplants were also enhanced to produce better power and still comply with the ever-stringent emissions regulations.
- 4.1L 250cid I6, Argentinian-made only
- 4.8L 292cid I6, Mexico only
- 4.3L 262cid V6
- 5.0L 305cid V8
- 5.7L 350cid V8
- 7.4L 454cid V8
- ·6.2L 378cid V8 diesel
- 6.5L 396cid V8 turbo diesel
The Chevrolet and GMC C/K series have been around for so many years. They have been one of the most successful lines of heavy-duty trucks, utilities and pickups for industrial, commercial and personal use. Fully-restored models of the earlier generations command very high price tags these days and are very popular with collectors and restorers. The more recent ones are still widely used today and performing competently. Its successor, the Chevrolet Silverado released in Australia last year lives up to its heritage but comes with quite a hefty price.
If you are in the market for utes and light trucks, the third-generation Chevy C trucks are a good choice. You may want to start your search here at Carpart.com.au, Australia’s premier site for used vehicles and car parts. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, feel free to send us a parts request or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.