Since the 1960s, Chevrolet has manufactured modern, light duty pickups that have been called the C/K trucks because of how the company gave its model-variants’ class designations depending on their wheel drives. If any one of these pickups had a conventional two-wheel drive, it would be given a C designation and if it had a four-wheel drive, it would be a K. After two decades of calling its pickups a 10, 20, or 30, depending on their weight, Chevrolet decided to change its naming system again. For almost 20 years, one of its pickups was known as the C3500. This is what happened to it during that period:
Late 1980s–Early 1990s: Debut
In 1988, Chevrolet debuted the new versions for its pickup model-variants with their new names. From then on, the half-ton truck would be called a 1500, the three-quarter a 2500, while the heaviest one would be a 3500. During its very first appearance as the Chevrolet C3500, the buyers of this one-ton, two-wheel drive pickup could choose either a larger engine with a smaller seating capacity or a smaller engine with more seats. The 6.2-liter V8 diesel engine with 143 hp and 257 ft-lb of torque could seat up to three passengers, while the 5.7-liter gas engine with 185 hp and 285 lb-ft of torque could seat up to six. However, both engine options had a three-speed automatic transition and anti-lock brakes.
By 1993, more engine options were added to the lineup. First, there was the 7.4-liter V8 engine that could run 230 hp and 385 lb-ft of torque on either diesel or gasoline. There was also the 6.2-liter engine that went at 150 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque that ran only on diesel. Finally, the 6.6-liter turbo engine could produce 190 hp and 380 lb-ft of torque. By this time also, Chevrolet had turned the truck’s automatic transmission into a four-speed.
Late 1990s-Early 2000s: Demise
By 1998, Chevrolet had already added several items to the C3500’s safety equipment, including side door guard beams and a passenger-side airbag with a deactivation switch. Furthermore, it added electronic controls to the automatic transmission. Meanwhile, the engine options were upgraded so that the 6.5-liter V8 could do 180 hp while the 5.0-liter V8 could now do 230 hp and the 5.7-liter could do 255.
In 2001, the Chevrolet C3500 got a redesign. Its exterior looked rounder and more modern, while the cab became roomier, and the truck itself became stronger at towing. Larger wheels, four-wheel disc brakes, and a hydro-boost brake application were added to it. There was also a new engine option: an 8.1 V8. However, it was also during this time that Chevrolet’s one-ton, two-wheel drive pickup ceased to become a C3500. Instead, it became a heavier Silverado variant because the company decided that it was time for another change in their naming system.