1973 to 1998 Chevrolet Pickups Grow Collectible
Part 1: 1973 to 1983

By: John Gunnell Posted: 04-21-08 12:30 ET
© 2008 PickupTrucks.com

Page: [1] [2] [Part 2: 1984 to 1998]

About 20 years ago, people started collecting 1946-1972 Chevy trucks in earnest. The trucks started appearing at many old car shows and prices rose quickly. Nice 1940s to early-'60s trucks sold for about $10,000. The 1967-1972 models grew extremely popular and were sold in the $12,000-$14,000 range.

Now, it's two decades later. A new generation of fans is collecting newer Chevy trucks. Since the Antique Automobile Club of America and other collector organizations use a 25-year rule, models made up to 1982 qualify as "antiques".

Collector-vehicle interest starts when a vehicle is about 20 years old. This means even the 1988 models are moving into "collector" territory. Since 1988-1998 trucks share a common design, they are all of growing interest to collectors.

Growth of interest in these trucks is reflected by sales of parts for 1973-up Chevy trucks. According to Susan Berkowitz of LMC Truck Parts, her company sees late-model Chevy trucks as a growth area. Little has been printed about these trucks, but it's time to review them at PickupTruck.com.

1973-1983 Chevrolet C/K Pickups

Chevy’s light trucks for 1973 were totally restyled. The look was modestly bigger, wider, boxier and airier than before. The lower sheet metal was updated and soft-cornered, rectangular wheel wells added o the new look. The body sides had more lower  "tumble home". The basic style lasted until 1987.

The new trucks looked bright and luxurious and offered fancier trim packages. Two-toning was common. Woodgrain accents dressed up fancy models inside and outside. Chevy followed the trend towards increased use of plastic and vinyl. Some called this “cheapening” the product, but these pickups had plenty of durability built into them and would prove sturdy over the long haul.

A simple "egg crate" grille, an in-the-windshield radio antenna and curved window glass were new. The cab doors now opened into the roofline and roof drip rails were no longer used. A new easy-to-open tailgate was introduced.

A widened interior featured power, flow-through ventilation. A new dash grouped all instruments and controls in a semi-circular cluster in easy reach and view of the driver. To start the truck, you inserted the key into a switch on the steering column. It had an interlock to combat thieves. The steering wheel was reduced in diameter and a new energy-absorbing steering column was adopted.

Chevys had longer wheelbases. The C10 (two-wheel-drive) and K10 (four-wheel-drive) with a 6-1/2-ft. box came on a 117-1/2-in. wheelbase. A six-passenger version of the ½-ton pickup was new. The fuel tank was moved to a spot outside the cab, on the right frame rail. C10/K10 pickups with an 8-ft. box had a 131-1/2-in. wheelbase, also used for many 1/2-ton chassis models and C30 models. C20/K20 trucks, except Suburbans, were on a 127-in. wheelbase.

Longer wheelbases were provided for Chassis-and-Cab models and Crew-Cabs. Six-passenger Crew-Cabs could be had as an option on all 3/4- and 1-ton pickups for $1,000. Used with Crew-Cabs was the 8-ft. Fleetside box.

A 454-cid V-8 was an option. Although the 454 used more gas than smaller engines, collectors who love their trucks “loaded” with options consider it desirable. C10s used rubber control arm bushings for a quieter and smoother ride. Leaf springs replaced the rear-coil springs on C10/C20s. Four-wheel-drive models were fitted with longer front springs and a standard front stabilizer bar.

All pickups now used a Salisbury rear end. On C20 and C30s an Eaton locking differential was optional. It locked in upon a 100 rpm difference in the rear axles with a governor keeping it from locking-in at above 15 mph. Full-time four-wheel-drive was available with a V-8 engine and Turbo-Hydra-Matic.

All trucks offered in 1972, except the “Longhorn,” continued into 1973. The C10 with 6-1/2-ft. bed took the Cadillac-like “Fleetwood” name. Available trim levels included Custom, Custom Deluxe, Cheyenne, and Cheyenne Super.

Chevy trucks were virtually unchanged in 1974. There were four new colors, improved "below-eye-line" mirrors and optional new bright roof drip moldings. Full-time four-wheel-drive came on all V-8-engined 4 x 4. Brakes were now computer-matched to the GVW rating and included a front lining sensor. All pickups had larger front disc and rear drum brakes and Hydro-boost.

Interior refinements included foam dash padding with all trim levels. All models had an energy-absorbing steering column and, on all models with automatic transmission, an anti-theft ignition system was used. Model-year production for 1974 was the second best in Chevy history at 925,696 trucks.

Page: [1] [2] [Part 2: 1984 to 1998]