(first posted 9/4/2011) So did these folks who commissioned a fine woodworker neighbor of ours to build them this fine custom camper seek out a Chevy Custom Camper because of its name? Actually, they know their way around Chevy pickups, because the Longhorn had an unusual aspect itself; an extra six inches in the bed, making it an eight and a half foot long. Perfect for…custom campers.
This vintage of Chevy truck is one of my favorite, and a C30 Longhorn the cream of the crop. It was added to the pickup line in 1969, in both 3/4 ton (C20) and 1-ton (C30) versions. To see one topped of with this woody topper makes me both jealous and happy for the folks that are living out their fantasy.
The Custom Camper was built during the heyday of the slide in camper, a package with all the goodies a serious slide-in camper devotee would want.
And the Longhorn was the top-dog of the bunch,
thanks to that six inch bed extension, clearly visible here. That means a correspondingly longer wheelbase, to better balance out the long loads it was meant to handle.
And this one can take the heavy loads, with an 8000 lb max GVR, as some states require trucks above a certain weight category to make quite public.
Power to haul that? No problem, with a 402 cubic inch version of the big block motor. For some reason, Chevy called it a 400, perhaps to confuse the public with the 400 small block that also came out about then. But it seems only the big block was used in the trucks exclusively through 1974 or so.
Teamed up with the turbo-hydramatic, this powertrain is ready to haul, as long as one isn’t shy about paying at the pump.
Enough with the heavy metal; how about that fine woodwork. This truck belongs to some folks who live a few blocks away, so this is buying locally at its finest. I see it driving around regularly now.
This is not a slide-in unit, but a “topper”, mounted on the tops of the bed. I don’t know how they’re going to use it exactly, but there’s plenty of potential.
Time to hit the road.
Oddly enough, Chevy dropped the longer-bed Longhorn after 1972, and Ford picked up on the extended-wheelbase camper-special truck theme the following year, 1973. But they went about it differently, pushing the rear axle further back, but not extending the length of the bed. The resultant F350 Super Camper Special (CC here) had the same benefit, in reducing overall total rear overhang with a big camper mounted.
Does the topper front overhang actually touch the cab roof, or is that just how it looks?
By sheer coincidence, well before this posting I am very impressed with, I wrote of my longing, my lust for the Longhorn.
Sure, there are minor differences but the longing for both exists within my withered mind and body.
Gas station food is for display purposes onlyObbop, unless at a proper truck stop where suitably attired[singlet& shorts] patrons will be fed. Love the woody pickup Paul Wooden house trucks abound in Aotearoa some with 2 storey lofts etc are built to within millimeters of the regulations and show real artistry must get some pics at the next gypsy fair youd like em.
Could you tell us if that is redwood? And what does it weigh?
I’m pretty sure its old-growth clear cedar, which is more plentiful here. Weight? Actually, cedar is quite light, so probably not too bad.
Geez, it’s even got a figurehead on it. Cool!
I see that the truck once had an auxiliary gas tank. It seemed to me in the 70’s and 80’s that every long-box pickup had an extra tank or two. I have to wonder how many of those extra gas tanks fell into disuse and ended up containing something more like waterlogged kerosene.
Factory tach even! I may bleed Blue Oval, but even I have a soft spot for these, as I had 2 friends with them in high school, both ’68 2wd 3/4 tons. One was a Chev with 396, other GMC with 327, both TH400 trannys…fun times had by both! 🙂 Liked the Jimmy better myself, less nose heavy, rear leaf springs instead of coils, and all metal bed instead of the Chevs wood floor.
Isn’t it funny how some of us see a factory tach as being really special?
I was at the Pull-A-Part junk yard today and was looking at trucks, and the ones with the factory tachs seemed…better. My dad had a ’86 F-150, and it was a very nearly completely loaded Lariat regular cab long bed 4×4, quad shock front end, automatic front hubs, trailer towing package, dual tanks, power doors, seemingly everything but the tach. I always felt it was a stupid place to go cheap.
My 2004 el cheapo mostly bare-bones Silverado W/T (work truck) pick-up with the smallest V8/Auto inexplicably has a tach.
Tech advances likely resulted in a reduction in cost to allow inclusion in the cheapest Chevy pick-up sold.
Manual windows and door locks. Manually engage 4-wheel drive.
A basic machine with what to me was a very affordable extra hundred bucks for the long-bed that allows extra living room when the need for such does arise.
Oh how the truly homeless will envy me but I am still waiting for a possible used-vehicle price plummet so I can grab a long cargo van for conversion into an abode… better at stealth living to hide from the jack-booted thugs intent upon keeping society’s “riff-raff” moving along.
Youll be livin high on the hog with winders and roof
This truck appears to be loaded-AC, tilt, buckets, can’t tell if has Cruise.
In university I worked for an outfit that delivered newspapers to the kids, who would in turn deliver them. They had one of these Longhorns in the fleet that I would drive periodically. Full Hillbilly, complete with missing grill. Very scary looking to normal prosperous folk.
Do love the cheap tacked on bed extension: GM at its finest! (that the bean counter would allow!) And these cabs are amazingly short on space, if you haven’t sat in one lately…
Is it to replace the VW van in the yard?Good choice if so.
I will confess a soft spot for this series of Chevy truck as well. A friend of the family bought a new 72 pickup. A loaded dark green high-end model (Cheyenne?) that was the nicest pickup I had ever seen up to that time. These always felt more solid than the series that replaced them in 1973. Certainly better against rust.
As for the woodwork, you have to admire the craftsmanship. However, it would seem that a boatbuilder’s input would have been helpful on the aerodynamics side of things.
Beautiful wood working.
I had a customer that had a Longhorn, a perfectly preserved, one at that. The guy he bought it from put a camper in it, only drove it for camping and kept it in a garage. IIRC it only had 40 or 50K on the clock.
A friend of mine had a C20 with camper shell (or what we would call a canopy) that he used escorting over-dimensional trucks. He had the 350 running on LPG and 2x 300L tanks running across the front of the bed behind the cab, one on top of the other, which was enough to cover 600mi or more – he had to have at least the same range as the trucks he was working with. Not quite as fancy as this one, but a good set-up nonetheless
Sweet looking combination truck/camper! Did GMC offer the same for its trucks?
Yes, there was a GMC version as well.
It is ashamed the excellent woodworker didn’t cut some extra cedar to replace the cheap woodgrain on the dash and doors. I am sure that was the deluxe interior in 1972, but I think it would look better with just the simple metal dash.
“But it seems only the big block was used in the trucks exclusively through 1974 or so.”
Not actually, the 402 (or a 396 with a .030 overbore) was dropped at the end of the ’72 model year. It was replaced, in trucks anyway, by the 454 in 1973. There was a 4 Bbl, version of the existing 400 CI small-block introduced in ’74 to help fill the void but it was a weak substitute.
Nice truck. Even nicer canopy/camper shell. Craftsmanship is to be admired.
Did GMC offer a similar Longhorn model?
I recall throughout the 60s, Chevy/GMC, Ford and Dodge offered a 1-ton pickup with 9-foot pickup bed in their Stepside/Fenderside/Flareside/Utiline beds but not in the Fleetside/Wideside/Styleside/Sweptline beds. Always wondered why.
I suppose tooling was a lot cheaper on the Flare/Step/Fenderside/Utiline, which was just a steel box surrounded by fenders that had probably been in use since the mid-50s. One-ton trucks of the time rode like murder, and the vast majority left the factory bedless or with provision for a flatbed, stake body, dump box, tow body, etc. The higher-ups decided if they really needed a bed, an “ugly” step-type box would be good enough.
But Ford did offer a 9′ Styleside on the ’57-60 F-350s (see the third pic of this brochure: http://www.lov2xlr8.no/brochures/ford/57ftr/57ftr.html), which was carried over for the ’61-66 models (see the second-to-last pic of this brochure: http://www.lov2xlr8.no/brochures/ford/66pick/66pick.html).
The Longhorn was essentially replaced by the Big Dually in ’73, GM’s first factory dual rear wheel pickups. The Dually was marketed towards the large slide-in camper customers.
Nice truck with a little plastic wood grain on the dash, a tach and buckets with centre console. Worth restoring I would say.
That interior is fantastic. High class stuff for a truck back then.
Funny thing about the 402 is that they still called it a 396 when it was installed in cars from 1970 onward.
Wonder if this rig is still around?
Sweet! Glad to hear.
Just realized the wheels are barely turned, but yet the steering wheel iis cranked to the right a bunch; iintereting.
Given that these old vehicles were 6-7 turns lock-to-lock, 90 degrees off-center means little.
Awesome looking truck. My dad had one like this when I was a boy. He might still have it. If only he’d taken better care of it.
I have a 1970 chevy c30camper special 2wd. Was these truck made without park mine just has neutral and the e break.
I used to see a 72 C30 with a custom camper driving around Wichita all the time in the 1990s. Man named Mike had restored it, gave it a new orange and white paint job, and mounted a very special custom built camper on the back. I wish I knew where he was now, and where the truck was as well.
I’ve seen this rig around here a bunch over the years but it’s been a while.
They can’t move the camper to another truck, so they’ll have to keep it running.
I wasn’t expecting the full-size door–it looked like a duplex from the side.
The woodworking is very impressive (only a teeny bit less so when I realized it was a “topper”), but the truck is cool if only for being nearly a half-century survivor.
Tons of specifications here, but the brochure also had a couple big surprises for me: (1) Enamel—-when I thought everything GM was then lacquer; was this not true for trucks? (2) Engines could run on no-lead, low-lead, or regular—-I don’t remember anything of the sort back then: https://www.lov2xlr8.no/brochures/chevy/72cv/bilder/9.jpg
I’d be shocked if GM were using anything other than enamel in 1962, let alone 1972.
There was a mandate in the US that all auto engines be able to take unleaded fuel—I don’t recall whether this was a phase-in over the three model years from 1971-’73, or if it took effect all at once for ’72, but it was one of those.
45 years ago my sister and new brother-in-law departed on their cross country honeymoon in something resembling this, and made it.
Too bad I can’t find the photo of it.
Or the look on Mom’s face.
I’m happy to say they are still together.
Tachometer, AC, Tilt…
The real unadvertised “camper special” was C30 with 11,000 # rear axle; a brute.
Serious suspension, 10-bolt wheels, tires up to 19.5″…
Ideal for chassis-mount camper.