The birth rate wasn’t the only thing that increased during the 1950s. Chevrolet’s popularity in the American automobile market rose up as well, thanks in part to its V8-powered pickups. By the start of the next decade, the company was ready to introduce a new body style of light pickups. This is the story of one of those baby boomer trucks: the Chevrolet C10.
1960-1966: Birth and childhood
When Chevrolet gave birth to its new generation of light pickup trucks in 1960, it also introduced many firsts. Apart from the drop-center ladder frame that allowed the cab to sit lower and the independent front suspension that gave a car-like ride in a truck, the company also introduced a new naming scheme for their models. The C10, got its name because it was a half-ton short-bed truck that ran on a conventional two-wheel drive model.
For the next few years, the C10 enjoyed getting minor changes to its body and several additions to its engine options. In 1961, it got its parking light ovals opened around its spinners. A year later, it got a standard 235 c.i. I6 engine which could be upgraded to a 160 hp 283 c.i. V8. In 1963, it got a coil-spring front suspension along with two engine options. Buyers could choose between the basic 230 c.i. I6 engine that could run up to 140 hp or the 292 c.i. I6 engine upgrade with 165 hp. The next year, engineers changed the C10’s cab by removing the wraparound windshield while adding a new front grille design and air conditioning. In 1965, a 220 hp 327 c.i. V8 engine option was added to the lineup. Before its generation ended in 1966, it got a 155 hp 250 c.i. I6 engine.
1967-1972: Teenage years
Teenagers are known to have their own sense of style, and Chevrolet’s brood of pickup trucks were no exception. They made the transition from being merely utilitarian to becoming personalized pickups with their refined and handsome styling during their second generation’s debut.
Like fickle-minded teens, the C10 got several engine option and styling changes that were often replaced the year after. In 1968, the rear window got a larger glass while side marker reflectors were added to its exterior. At the same time, the 283 c.i. V8 engine option became bigger at 307 c.i. In 1969, upper and lower side moldings and a two-tone paint option changed the exterior. Meanwhile, inside the pickup, the hand-operated parking brake was replaced by a foot pedal as a two-spoke steering wheel with a plastic horn button replaced the three-spoke chrome-horned version from last year. Finally, its 327 c.i. V8 became a 200 hp 350 c.i. engine. In 1970, the Chevrolet front grille got plastic inserts that highlighted the grille’s six separate sections while the 396 c.i. engine became bigger at 402 c.i. A year later, an egg crate grille design was introduced while AM/FM radios became factory standard. In 1972, the rear-view mirror got glued onto the windshield while flat door panels no longer became available.
The C10 and its fellow Chevrolet pickups came of age during the second energy crisis. Because sales dropped quite drastically, the company gave its pickups a dramatic mid-generation change in 1980 to make them more aerodynamic and fuel efficient. It introduced a small-block V8 with an electronic spark control, a four-barrel carburetor, and a 9:21 compression ration – the smallest in a Chevrolet truck engine in ten years.
Like many adults today, the C10 strove to shed excess weight and become relevant. In 1981, Chevy pickups shed anywhere from 115 to 309 pounds thanks to equipment changes, including a new instrument panel with international symbol-controlled switches. This generation of C10s settled down from annually making major changes after that until its next generation replacement came.
1989-1997: Old age and demise
During its final generation, the C10 came with a standard 262 c.i. V6 engine or the 378 c.i. V8 upgrade. It had grown to a wheelbase of 117.5 inches with a length of 194.1 inches and a width of 76.4 inches. Still, it looked much trimmer than it did during the 1970s. It kept the same styling and overall construction until the end of its 37-year run. In 1997, Chevrolet ceased production of the C10 model and moved on with other pickup trucks.