1973 to 1998 Chevrolet Pickups Grow Collectible
Part 2: 1984 to 1998

By: John Gunnell Posted: 05-19-08 01:50 ET
© 2008 PickupTruck.com

Page: [1] [2] [Part 1: 1973 to 1983]

Chevy's 1984 pickup had a bold new bi-level grille. Two galvanized steel interior door panels were a new rust-fighting feature. Also new were semi-metallic front brake linings on C/K10 and C/K20s. Non-asbestos rear brake linings were used on most models. The U.S. Army purchased nearly 30,000 full-size Chevrolet 4x4 pickups with 6.2-liter diesel V-8s. The trucks were said to be "like the ones you can get, except for a few specialized military adaptations."

The 1985 Chevys had another front end redesign. A new custom two-tone body-color treatment was seen. It had a sportier look with a tapering color panel on the cab and fender sides. GM's Vortec six was standard. A real "Country Cadillac" was the "Big Dooley" with flared rear fenders and dual rear wheels.

Every new 1985 light-duty truck sold by a U.S. Chevy dealer came with a one-year, $10,000 seat belt insurance certificate at no additional charge. Under the policy, $10,000 would go to the estate of any occupant suffering fatal injuries as a result of an accident involving that vehicle while wearing a GM seat belt.

Chevrolet kicked off a 75th anniversary celebration in 1986. By year’s end, the company would make 1,174,217 trucks. New was a high-tech instrument cluster. The Vortec V6 had electronic fuel-injection and swirl-port heads for a nine percent power boost. It was Chevy’s most powerful base truck engine ever.

Chevy’s full-size pickups (the ones called C/K models in 1986) were R/V models in 1987. New full-size pickups based on the so-called GMT400 platform were introduced in mid-1987 as the “1988” C/Ks. Throttle body injection was fitted to all. Engine-mounted mechanical fuel pumps were replaced by electric units in the gas tank. This, along with a fuel pressure regulator, provided instant and constant fuel pressure for precise fuel control during starting and driving.

The 262-cid Vortex V6 remained base engine. It came with lower-friction roller-hydraulic valve lifters that upped engine efficiency, while providing a three percent fuel economy increase. Chevrolet also installed new lower-weight Delco batteries with higher cold-cranking current for all gasoline engines.

1988-1998 Chevrolet C/K Pickups

Chevy introduced all-new pickups on April 23, 1987 as 1988 models. The new trucks were produced at three plants in Fort Wayne, Ind., Pontiac, Mich. and Oshawa, Ontario, Canada. Adding sales appeal, as well as representing a new avenue of versatility, were extended-cabs with optional six-passenger seating.

The wheelbases of the new models were 117.5-in. for standard models, 131.5 in. for long-wheelbase and extended-cab models and 155.5 in. for extended-wheelbase models with extended cabs. These dimensions were unchanged from 1987, although the new trucks were longer than the old ones.

The exterior was 3.5-in. narrower, but the interior had more leg and shoulder room and seat travel. The new models had larger doors that extended into the roof line and down nearly to the bottom of the rocker. These, along with a low step-up height and high headroom, made for ease of entry and exit.

Fleetsides had a box that measured 49.15-in. between the wheel wells and 63.8-in. between the side panels. Flush side glass, a modular-assembled bonded-flush windshield, single-piece door frames and robotic welding made the new trucks very advanced. Hidden roof pillars and built-in drip rails eliminated matching problems on door cuts. The back of the cab and front of the box were mounted on a single, one-piece fixture, eliminating mismatch of the two sections.

A new single-piece grille eliminated potential molding mismatch. There were single headlamps. The Silverado was equipped with dual halogen headlamps. Structural rigidity was improved by double-panel construction on the roof, hood, fenders, doors and box. Glass area was a third larger. A bonded, angled and curved backlight cut glare. The windshield wiper sweep was larger.

Improved anti-corrosion protection was a high priority. The all-welded box had a seamless floor without bolts to fight corrosion. Two-sided galvanized steel was used for major exterior panels, except the roof. All exterior sheet metal was primer dipped. Anti-stone protection was used. The windshield and backlight were made without mitered corners.

The front bumper had no attaching bolts to improve appearance and eliminate a source of corrosion. Prior to painting, all sheet metal panels were immersion-washed to remove contaminants for better paint adhesion. A uniprime ELPO dip treatment drew the protective primer into recessed areas. The color coat/clear coat paint gave a hard, high-luster finish.

The base trim was Cheyenne, a new value standard in full-size work trucks. The mid-range Scottsdale was described as, "a big step up in a sensible blend of function and form." Silverado was the top-of-the line trim package.

Two-wheel-drives used independent coil spring front suspension in all weight classes. C1500/C2500s used a semi-floating rear axle and C3500s had a full-floating one. Four-wheel-drives had a new independent front suspension with a hypoid driving axle and torsion bars. It utilized a wire-form design for upper control arms with lighter, stronger parts. The torsion bar springs and jounce bumpers were connected to the lower control arms. The torsion bars were computer selected to match a truck’s GVWR and balance with the rear springs.

The 4x4 frame had an additional cross member under the transmission. Their new "Shift-On-The-Fly Instra-Trac" system allowed shifts from 4x2 to 4x4 high and back, without stopping, at any speed. The front axle disconnect system locked the front hubs automatically when a lever operating the 4x4 system was pulled back. The shifter connected directly to the transfer case. In 4x2 mode, the front-axle disconnect allowed the front wheels to turn freely. In 4x4 mode, the transfer case split the power equally to the front and rear wheels.

Rear axles on 4x4s were of the same type and capacity as on 4x2s. The K1500 had off-road option with a front differential carrier, engine and transfer case shields, front stabilizer bar, gas shocks and heavier jounce bumpers.

The standard V6 for K1500-K2500s had a new one-piece rubber oil pan gasket to help prevent oil leakage. At midyear, Chevy introduced a new K1500 Sportside model on the 117.5-in. wheelbase. It had a 6.5-foot long pickup box. The fiberglass rear fenders or side panels were flanked by functional steps.

Page: [1] [2] [Part 1: 1973 to 1983]