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What Is a C10?


Long before the Chevrolet Silverado & GMC Sierra became household names and turned out to be the company’s best-selling pickup trucks of all-time, there was the C/K Series of trucks that debuted in 1960 when the first generation C10 hit the market. Succeeding the previous Task Force Series, the C10 opened the door to a new generation of pickup trucks for GM that would later evolve into what the Silverado & Sierra are today. While there are technically four generations of the C/K Series, there are only three generations of the C10. And here they are…


What exactly is a C10 and what does it mean?

The Chevrolet C/K Series came in two different drivetrain configurations: 2WD (RWD) & 4WD.
The “C” in C10 specifies that a particular truck is a two-wheel drive model. On the other hand, trucks that were equipped with four-wheel-drive were identified with the letter “K”. The two-wheel-drive half-ton variation within the C/K lineup was designated as the C10 while the four-wheel-drive version was dubbed K10. The K10 also had a different suspension setup suited for off-roading that allowed for higher ground clearance than the 2WD C10.

First Generation C10 (1960-1966):
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.

When the 1st Generation C10 debuted in 1960, it was a completely new platform for Chevrolet. It was available in a short bed configuration with a 6.5-foot bed with 115-inch wheelbase and a long bed version with an 8-foot bed and 127-inch wheelbase. Over the years, many C10 owners began to convert their long beds into short beds. Available at the time, the C10 came in a multitude of variations like Fleetside, Stepside, K5 Blazer, and even the larger Suburban SUV.

The early model years (1960-62) of the C10 came with torsion bar independent front suspension (IFS), which replaced the non-independent straight axle found on Chevy and GMC trucks from the previous Task Force Series from 1959 and earlier. Starting for the 1963 model year, the torsion bar front suspension was changed out with conventional double A-arms with coil-spring IFS which massively improved road manners.

A 236 cubic-inch inline 6 that produced 135 horsepower was the standard engine for Chevrolet trucks, with a 305 cubic-inch V6 that made 150 HP was standard for GMC counterparts. A 283 cubic-inch V8 engine was optional, producing a whopping 160HP.

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.

The second generation of the C10 dubbed the “Action Line” was updated from the ground up from the previous generation. The new exterior design was so good looking that the 2nd gen was often referred to as the Glamour Pickup and for good reason.

Just look at it…

Along with the new exterior styling, the suspension was further developed - receiving an independent coil-spring trailing arms for the front suspension. The front drum brakes were ditched in favor disc brakes, a first for the C/K series. There were eight engine options available for the second generation with various inline-6, V6, and V8 configurations to choose from.

When it comes to the exterior, a highlight included a double-walled pickup box made of steel and rust-resistant body and sheet metal. In 1971, the trucks were given an egg-crate front grille and tailgate trim for added style. The interior got some upgrades as well, such as increased padding and insulation to decrease noise, vibration, and harshness. Other interior bits included the option for an AM/FM radio, carpet, and chrome trim pieces.

Third Generation C10 (1973-1987):

The 3rd generation and final iteration of the C10 was introduced for the 1973 model year and had a long run until it stopped production in 1987. Famously know within the C10 community as the “Squarebody” for the large boxy/square-like body style. Not only was the 3rd gen bigger than its predecessors, but also longer too with two bed configurations – short bed with a 6.5-foot bed with 117.5-inch wheelbase while the 8-foot bed had a 131.5-inch wheelbase.

For a more comfortable ride, the Squarebody C10 received rubber control arm bushings. In the rear, leaf springs were chosen in favor over coil springs with finned rear brake drums – rear discs were not available at the time. Two-toning was a common thing to do back in the 70’s & 80’s and became an actual paint option for customers.

More trim levels were added for the third generation like the Longhorn Edition, Cheyenne, Cheyenne Super, Custom, and Custom Deluxe. The Silverado became the luxury high-end trim level. In 1981, the C10 received what today is called a mid-model refresh with a newly designed front end, grille, and headlights.

Then later in 1985, the C10 went through another front end redesign that gave it a sportier look. For 75th anniversary of Chevrolet in 1986, the Squarebody C10 received its most powerful engine to date - the Vortec V6 with fuel injection. The last year for the Chevy C10 happened a year later in 1987.

The C/K trucks began using the 1500, 2500, and 3500 naming structure the following year in 1988 and then was renamed to the Silverado starting for the 1999 model year.

Even in 2022, the enthusiasm and love for the legendary C10 is as strong as ever. With so many produced during its production run, many can be found on the used market, but prices are beginning to skyrocket as they are becoming popular among builders and resto-modders.

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