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35-46_1truck

Modern Era (1934-46)

• From 1939 and up, the GMC six cylinder was a high pressure insert bearing engine – initially 228 and 248 cubic inches. Chevrolet trucks did not adopt the full insert bearing engine until 1954. This results in their similar appearing dash clusters with the of maximum oil pressure gauge reading of 80# for GMC and 30# for Chevrolet.

• Dark green was the standard exterior paint color. Most other colors, including black, were a non-cost option.

• The GMC with six-volt system uses a positive ground electrical system. Chevrolet uses negative ground.

• The GMC and Chevrolet pickups share bodies, most suspension, transmissions, etc. – not engines, grilles, tailgates, exterior colors or hub caps.

• In 1946 the 8 hole split rim was introduced on the 3/4 tons. Prior to this, the 3/4 tons used a heavier 6 bolt wheel than the ones on the 1/2 tons. These are often referred to as the artillery or scalloped type wheel.

• Early trucks were titled on either the body ID plate or engine number. If your title used the engine number and it has been replaced over the years, you may have major problems in selling or licensing.

• The famous Chevrolet high pressure 235 engine was used between 1954 and 1962. Its big brother, with some larger internal parts, was the 261 engine. A low pressure Chevrolet 235 was available on larger trucks only between 1941 and 1953. This earlier 235 has little in common with its later 235 relative.

• Whitewall tires were not available from the factory during these early years.

• The pickup running boards were black painted steel. The rubber covering was reserved for cars.

• Sealed beam headlights were first used on new trucks in 1940.

• The 4-speed transmission (optional on 1/2 ton) during these years is not synchronized. The driver must “double clutch” between shifts. The 3-speed was synchronized, but only in second and third gear.

• Electric wiper motors were not available from GM.

• The first year of the 1939-46 series had a different dash. Therefore, the 1939 glove box and windshield crankout assembly is used this one year only.

• These body style changes are grouped into the following years. 1934-36 high cab, 1936-38 low cab, and 1939-46.

• The right taillight was an option. Very few trucks had these dealer installed options.

• The Chevrolet 216 engine was used in both light trucks and cars between 1937-53. For the roads of the early years, they were great little engines!

• GMC began light truck production in 1936. Before this their primary market had been large trucks. With the “Great depression” GMC need to help sales!

• The pickup bed floors were oak until about 1940. From approximately 1941 until the last wood bottom stepside in 1987, the material was hard yellow pine. It was painted, not varnished. On at least 1946 and older the wood was painted black. Between 1941-1946, GMC pickups used metal bottom beds, not wood.

• During 1939-40, the Chevrolet 1/2 and 3/4 ton tailgate displayed its lettering in script style. The other years between 1934-46 had plain tailgates with no letters. GMC however, always used their logo on the 1936-46 tailgates.

1950_truck

Advanced Design (1947-55)

• From at least 1955 and before, the raised letters on the tailgates were not a contrasting color. They remained the same color as the overall gate.

• The bed planks were not varnished or given a related finish to show off the wood grain. Trucks were produced for work and the planks were normally painted black on the 1955 and earlier. After this, they were body color or black. This better protects the wood.

• The bed planks have not been oak since the late 1930′s. From then to the newer GM step pickups, the wood is hard yellow pine.

• From 1939 and up, the GMC six cylinder was a high pressure insert bearing engine – initially 228 and 248 cubic inches. Chevrolet did not adopt the full insert bearing engine until 1954. This results in their similar appearing dash clusters having an exception of maximum oil pressure gauge reading of 60# or 80# for GMC and 30# for Chevrolet.

• Almost all Canadian built GMC pickups prior to 1953 used the Chevrolet 216 engine, not the 228 and 248 GMC type placed in U.S. trucks. The Canadian Chevrolet using the larger GMC 228 and 248 was the “Maple Leaf”!

• Between 1947-53 on light trucks, the cabs and fenders were the same color. On this series, two-tone cabs were not available until 1954. Only then was a white top available as an option and only on the more deluxe cabs.

• Most 1/2 ton pickups prior to 1955 used 16″ wheels not 15″ or 14″.

• Radios were first available as an “in dash” option on the 1947 “Advance Design” body style.

• Right taillights were an option until the late 1950′s.

• Full wheel covers were not available until 1954 and then only as an option.

• Dark green was the standard exterior paint color prior to 1955. Most other colors, including black, were a non-cost option.

• On the 1947-55 series, the door panels match the seat material. They are not similar to the headliner cardboard.

• Shortages during the Korean War are the primary reasons for the eliminating of bright work on the 1952 and 1953 truck. Therefore, painted items on these trucks included: hub caps, bumpers, grille, radio speaker horizontal trim, glovebox door, etc. Interior window cranks and wiper knobs changed to maroon plastic.

• During 1947-48, the Chevrolet painted grille bars and “back splash” bars were body color. In addition, the leading edge of each painted outer bar had a horizontal stripe matching the cab stripe. On the 1949-51 Chevrolet, with a painted grille, the “back splash” bar was white. In 1952-53 this changed to light gray to match hub caps and bumpers. On chrome grilles, only the outer bar was plated. The “back splash” bar was as the painted grille.

• The cabs on both the pickups and the larger trucks are the same. The front fenders must be different due to the increase in tire size on the larger trucks. On 1947-59 trucks, even the hoods and grilles are larger to adapt to these bigger fenders.

• The GMC with six-volt system uses a positive ground electrical system. Chevrolet uses negative ground.

• The GMC and Chevrolet pickups share bodies, most suspension, transmissions, etc. – not engines, grilles, tailgates, exterior colors, or hub caps.

• Early trucks were titled on either the body ID plate or engine number. If your title used the engine number and it has been replaced over the years, you may have major problems in selling or licensing.

• The famous Chevrolet high pressure 235 engine was used between 1954 and 1962. It’s big brother, with some larger internal parts, was the 261 engine. A low pressure Chevrolet 235 was available on larger trucks only between 1941 and 1953. This earlier 235 has little interchange in common with it’s later 235 relative.

• Whitewall tires were not available from the factory prior to 1955.

1956_truck

Task Force (1955-59)

• Beginning in mid 1955 with the introduction of the “Second Series” trucks, Chevrolet introduced the “big one” of the decade – the modern V-8! This light-weight, overhead valve 8 cylinder was an immediate success. It weighed about the same as the existing 235 six cylinder but its 265 cubic inches gave extra power not available before in a Chevrolet truck. With limited changes this small block V-8 engine continues to be used by GM in several of its new vehicles 44 years later! To stay competitive, GMC also introduced a V-8 for 1955. It shared no parts with Chevrolet’s 265 V-8 and actually was a modified Pontiac V-8 with a GMC logo on the valve covers. For several years as Pontiac made slight changes in their car V-8, GMC would also have to follow their supplier.

• The introduction of the true fleetside pickup occurred in 1958. It was available in 6′ and 8′ models. The 1958-59 fleetside bedsides are different from the 1960-66 style. Horizontally on the outside is a long “spear” type protrusion giving extra strength to the sheet metal. To better call attention to this new design the chrome letters “Fleetside” are on the top rear corner on each side.

• General Motors followed the industry trend and introduced dual headlights in 1958. This continued on trucks through 1961 on Chevrolet and 1972 on GMC.

• With the introduction of the new 1955 body design, Chevrolet began with the 12 volt electrical system. GMC carried the 6 volt system one more year on their inline six cylinder.

• Due to increasing popularity of 4-wheel drive, General Motors introduced a factory installed unit in 1957. Of the several aftermarket add-on 4-wheel drive companies at that time, GM choose NAPCO of Minneapolis, MN as their supplier. Of course NAPCO is not mentioned in GM shop manuals or sales booklets, however, the 5 N-A-P-C-O letters are always cast and easily visible in the front axial housing. GM used the NAPCO system exclusively between 1957-59.

• Due to the dash design in the cab, there is no place to mount the optional radio speaker in 1955-59. Therefore, it is placed overhead between the inside sunvisors and is protected with a special metal cover.

• The Chevrolet Cameo and GMC Suburban carrier were marketed 1955-58. This “boulevard” 1/2 ton pickup was designed for a growing population with more disposable income. Its retail price was almost 30% higher than standard 1/2 tons. This nicely appointed pickup had most options but used the same suspension as a standard 1/2 ton. The most visible difference is its fiberglass smooth bedsides. As almost all domestic pickups were stepside, this fleetside design was very radical for its time. No doubt, it received much attention during its beginning years!

• During 1955-59, Chevrolet marketed the 3200 pickup – a long bed 1/2 ton with a 123″ wheelbase. It’s suspension remained as the shorter 3100 as well as keeping 6 bolt wheels. The 3600 remained a 3/4 ton with 8 bolt split rim wheels but had the same wheelbase as the 3200.

1963 Chevrolet 3100 Truck

V8 Era (1960-66)

• The famous high oil pressure Chevrolet 235 six cylinder engine (since 1954 in trucks) was mostly discontinued at the end of the 1962 year. Only the 4×4 carried it through 1963.

• With the 230, 250, and 292 series of new Chevrolet six cylinders in 1963, came the introduction of the alternator. The cast iron generator was history. A separate voltage regulator was near the radiator support core through 1975.

• For 1960, GMC introduced their own cast iron V-6, 305 engine. This very dependable, powerful worker was carried until 1969. GMC made this their only power plant through 1965 when they also used Chevrolet’s inline six.

• Both Chevrolet and GMC in 1960-63 and in 1964-66 cabs came from the same tooling. However, each brand has their specific style of dash board welded to the cab.

• From 1960-62 both Chevrolet and GMC 1/2 and 3/4 ton came with torsion bar for front suspension (no front coil springs). This is an excellent system and gives a smooth ride in comparison to the straight axle system from 1959 and older. It is said that high production costs resulted in a change to a more conventional coil spring design in 1963.

• Chevrolet park light lenses were from the same mold between 1960-66, however, federal regulations required an industry change from clear to amber in 1963.

• GMC park light lenses in 1960-61 are different than 1962-66 (neither are like Chevrolet). Due to the change to the amber color in 1963, the 1962 GMC clear lens is a “one year only” style. GMC park light lenses have the words “Cats-Eye” molded into the plastic.

• In-dash factory air was available on new Chevrolet trucks in 1965, though GM dealer installed under-dash air had been used since about 1958. GMC did not offer in-dash factory air until 1967. Dealer under-dash air was a GMC option.

• Only AM radio (non-push button) was available in either Chevrolet or GMC between 1955-69.

• All pickup bed bottoms remained the proven yellow pine with metal bed strip design.

• An excellent example of standardizing pickups (they were designed as work vehicles) is the step bed. Almost no changes between 1954-87.

• Large back windows in cabs were an option. Some buyers in warmer states preferred to always stay with the small window to lessen interior summer heat.

• In 1961, 1/2 ton wheels changed from having spring clips to hold the hub cap. Three raised spots on the center wheel hub now held a new hub cap design. This reduced both hub cap and wheel production costs.

• The dual sealed beam headlight design of 1958 GM trucks was replaced in the 1962 Chevrolet with the single light system. In GMC, their dual lights were used to the end of the 1972 series.

• To lower costs, pickup rear bumper brackets in 1964 changed from a forged design to stamped steel.

• Chrome grills were not available on Chevrolet trucks between 1960-66. The deluxe trucks used a high shine anodized aluminum. Due to the rarity of this grill, restorers today usually chrome the standard white grill. GMC offered chromed grills – not anodized aluminum.

1968_truck

Custom Series (1967-72)

• Wing vent handles on the 1967 are carryover from the 1960-66. Therefore, the vent glass on the 1967 is correct only for this one year of the model series. It was not until 1968 that GM introduces the glass with a hole to hold the wing vent hardware.

• During 1962-72, the deluxe fleetside trim was bright anodized aluminum, rather than stainless steel in 1961 and older.  This newer trim had been adopted throughout the automotive industry and saved in production costs.

• In 1967, GM offered both the small window and large rear window cab. However, between 1968 and 1972 the small window cab was only available on the C-60 or 2 ton truck.

• The 1967-68 cabs continue to have a park brake handle secured at the left under the dash. This system and handle had been used since 1955. Beginning with 1969 the park brake was activated by a foot pedal at the left side in the floor. This “new” position is almost the exact foot pedal location as used on light GM trucks between 1948-55 1st series. History repeats itself!

• General Motors, as most other manufacturers, were caught off guard when federal regulations began requiring side marker exterior lights. The 1967 truck (the first of the six years series) was already in the market place. GM’s only option was to stamp marker light rectangular holes in the vehicle sides to hold these new lights. Thus, the 1967 is the only truck of these series to not have these lights. It was not until the new 1973 body that designers added marker lights which would flow with the bodylines.

• With few exceptions during 1967-72, Chevrolet 1/2 and 3/4 tons used rear coil springs. Except for the Suburban, most all GMC’s had rear leaf springs. These leaf springs were an option on Chevrolets.

• The “Longhorn” 133” wheelbase pickup was available during 1968-72 and came in both 3/4 and 1 ton models. All had leaf-type rear suspension. Chevrolets are given a chrome die cast “Longhorn” emblem near the bedside marker light. GMC’s display a “Custom Camper” chrome emblem on each door. To save production costs, GM used the chassis from their current 1 ton stepside pickup. Its 133” wheelbase made it a natural for this longer fleetside bed. Prior to the Longhorn, GM had not placed a fleetside on their 133” wheel base pickup chassis.

• The panel truck with double rear doors had been a part of Chevrolet and GMC’s lineup since the early 1920’s. It experienced its final year during 1970, never to reappear again on a truck chassis. The increased popularity of vans is said to be the main reason for the decline in it’s sales. Today, seeing a 1967-70 panel truck is a rare occurrence!

• The wood bottom stepbed pickup (a standard since the 1920’s) continued to be available between 1967-72. The customer could still order stepbeds in 1/2, 3/4, and 1 ton sizes with wheelbases of 116”,127”, and 133” inches. In keeping with tradition, wood bed bottoms were still available on all fleetsides during 1967-72, however, they had now become an option over the standard metal corrugated style. The wood floors and bed strips were painted body color – never varnished or given a related clear coat.

• The stepbed body style was sold as the base price pickup. This kept GM competitive on their low price end and was often chosen by government agencies that were required to take the lowest price bid.. The deluxe side trim did not relate well to a stepbed with its rear fender. Therefore, horizontal side trim was not offered on this body style truck.

• Rear air conditioning on the suburban body made its first appearance in 1972. This was a recirculator unit with its own independent three speed fan control and evaporator.

• The factory installed AM – FM radio was first available in trucks in 1970, not 1967. It used a single under dash speaker. This was not a stereo unit.

• With the introduction of front disc brakes on 1971 light trucks, a small reflective decal was placed on the left corner of the tailgate, advertising this new advancement. On 1/2 tons, these new brakes changed the wheel bolt pattern from 6 to 5 holes. GM then began using pre-existing 15” wheels from larger cars, such as Pontiac and Oldsmobile.

• The top of the line Chevrolet pickups in 1967-70 were referred to as the CST (Custom Sport Truck). This changed in1971. The new term Cheyenne now related to their most luxurious vinyl interior and best wood grain exterior trim package. By 1972, an even more deluxe interior option was offered and designated the Cheyenne Super. It included a cloth pleated houndstooth pattern nylon seat cover with supple vinyl edging. A small red and chrome “Super” emblem is attached to the fenders under the Cheyenne nameplate and on the glove box door.

• The GMC equivalent to the 1971-72 Chevrolet Cheyenne is the Sierra. The 1972 GMC top of the line is the Sierra Grande and is identical in most areas to the Chevrolet Cheyenne Super.

• The 1972 year was the first for attaching the inside rear view mirror directly to the windshield.

• During 1972, a unique Chevrolet promotional pickup was introduced for a limited time in 1/2, 3/4, and 1 ton models. This truck was designated the “Highlander”. It did not have side emblems or related nameplates that would cause people to remember this special model. GM only listed the word Highlander on the glove box door inside ID sheet.

• The ralley wheels so often seen on restored 1971-72 1/2 tons are actually from the 1973 and newer pickups. Full wheel covers were the extra on the deluxe trucks.

• Doors on the 1967-72 body style interchange, however, the 1972 units are different. Where the wing vent vertical post meets the lower window opening, the 1972 only has a 1/4″ dimple! This is an improvement! Here, a horizontal metal screw helps better hold the two door halves together when exposed to rough use. Holes on the inside upholstery surface are also different because of the change in door panels.

1975_truck

C/K Rounded Line (1973-87)

  • 1973 also introduced the 1 ton crew cab pickup.
  • Full-time 4WD was available on all V8 models.  New braking system sounded an audible signal with the pads needed replacement.
  • New, revamped grille with a larger grillwork, clear parking light lenses, and new front fender model identification combination model nameplates and series identification plaques. Restyled tailgate with a quick-release control.
  • In 1977, for the first time trucks were offered with power door locks and rear defroster.
  • Catalytic converter added to trucks up to  8,500 gross vehicle weight (GVW) in 1979.
  • Seat back angle was changed for greater comfort in 1980.  New thermostatic-controlled cooling fan.  Single inlet dual exhaust system was new for the 292 six cylinder engine.
  • New for 1984 were two galvanized steel interior door panels for better rust protection.
  • A new custom two-tone paint treatment introduced in 1985 used as the secondary color above the beltline on the Fleetside box, on the rear of the cab, doors, and fender sides.  Introduction of the Vortec V-6 engine.
  • In 1987, carburetors were replaced with fuel injection for all models.