Perhaps it was the oncoming traffic, or maybe my attention was towards a convenient parking spot, but arriving on my birthday to a favorite restaurant with my wife, I was slow to notice a very familiar, not to mention favorable shape.
Favorable, because would you believe this just might be my dream classic, the one I’d like to own the most? Sometimes I’m baffled by it, knowing and adoring so many classics over the years, this is where I ended up; at a simple pickup. But I did come up with two very good reasons for owning a classic truck, both are self afflicted of course. More on that later- now I’ve parked so lets get closer to that Greeeeeen:
Crossing the street and looking into that aftermarket grill, I seem to detect the 1983 vintage ,unequal-sized stacked headlight+indicator either side of the front. A closer look reveals another pair of LED lights inside. License plate tell me it’s a “new” import, arrived to Israel very recently.
Other side looks very much like the first. Were those color-coded wheels offered originally?
Final look at the back of what appears to be an almost original Scottsdale. That tow-bar looks to me as an Israeli addition.
Back to my two reasons for owning a classic truck, and here’s the first;
You see, a truck is mostly devoid of that niggling responsibility you sense when you own a GTO or maybe even a Continental Mk V (just random examples). There’s a limit you “may not” cross in regards to changing the car to fit your needs. For example, I have no problem buying a 6 cylinders C/K10 and dumping its engine in favor of a better, 8 cylinders unit. same goes for its looks- why should it carry the high 4X4 stance if it’s a 2X4? Lower the thing, with no strings attached.
The Second reason is this:
I believe most of us know this well enough: That red C10 is one of the stars of the 1978 movie “Driver”. I’m not going to get into the plot which you can read on Wikipedia here. Just say that in my mind, the movie features some of the most realistic car chases’ scenes you’ll ever see on the big screen. Also, this has to be Ryan O’Neal’s best role, stepping out of his comfort zone (usually he would star as the likable hero in romantic dramas / comedies). In this movie he played the Driver without an ounce of sympathy. And you’ve got the magnificent Bruce Dern as the nasty Cop. In short- if you’ve haven’t seen it, you should, if only for its CC heaven.
The film’s final car chase has O’Neal in the C10 chasing the Baddies driving this:
First time I saw the movie, I (naturally) wanted this 1976 T/A, custom paint and all. I was a teenager after all, and Firebirds like this one were Da Bomb!
I mean, how cool is this? You can bet the tail will be swinging out in a glorious over-steer. Oh, indulge yourself in CC readers’ favorite past-time, identifying of the cars at the background.
But just as O’Neal was catching the T/A, so was I being convinced that I was rooting for the wrong car all along.
And this is what finally sold me the C10. Fresh after its showdown with the Firebird which ended with a clear result, I thought it looked so good, buttered as it was after chasing and ramming the T/A all over town. In short, the movie managed to illustrate that trucks were cool (and it probably didn’t even try to).
Now lets head to some Step-Side C10s I photographed in recent years (classic meetings). Can I find anything that is similar to my “dream” truck, or at least a more modern version of it?
Take this 1980 C10, which is much more to my liking (minus the red strip) than the green featured Scottsdale above. It’s my preferred body style (pre-1981 facelift) and rides on flattering wheels. But why does it have to be this high? It’s not a 4WD.
Here’s a 1978 C10. Forget about the paint job for a moment- yes, it has the older body, and (for me) a better fascia than the striped truck above. But again, it rides too high, has non-related modern wheels and those are too narrow.
At last, I find a truck which has a much better stance. And it’s yet older, from 1974 if I’m not mistaken, giving it the nicest fascia (yes, it’s a GMC Sierra but you don’t get to be picky when you live in Israel). But that’s still not quite it.
There! That’s just about it. I love the stance, the color and the minimalistic rear bumper. I even like the small, period sized wheels (although I don’t think their design is period).
As for the Chevrolet C10 / GMC Sierra trucks in Israel- those were imported pretty much regularly from the very early Apache days right up until now, being marketed as a (for lack of a better word) luxurious pickup truck than the rest of the competition, if only for their size and being “American cars” (I wrote about the position of US cars in Israel here). The competition was mostly Subaru Brat, VW Caddy and the immortal Peugeot 404/504 Pickup, all smaller and more spartan than the C10.
Of course, most C/Ks or Sierras were purchased as Fleetsides rather than the Step-side shown above. Here are some photos of Fleetsides that were more common in Israel:
This 1975 Sierra is probably the most common way those trucks were sold, as a long bed Fleetside. Most buyers reckoned that more loading area was essential.
This is another example of an original, unmolested Fleetside (I believe from 1979), although it sports a short bed, and needs a bit of TLC.
And here we have a very original, imported when new 1981 C10. Very well kept, this looks like the owner hasn’t changed anything at all. Oh, again I spot a tow-bar.
Some K10s arrived in Israel too, but those were extremely rare (besides the IDF’s surplus purchases, of which very few found their way into the civilian market. And that was later, in the 1990s). Buyers who considered Ks, would mostly prefer the much loved Blazer. This 1983 K10 is an exception, and as you can see is tooled up for occasional off-roading.
I’ll finish off with this 1983 Fleetside, a much cared for truck I’ve known and seen for years, over which the owner replaced the wheels, bonnet and front grill (like the one on the featured green truck- must be a 1983 favorite). Other countless add-ons adorn this C10 which has had a much better fate than some of its peers.
This is one of my favorite movies too. At least 2 trucks were used for filming, as in some shots you can clearly see a 3-on-the tree and in others it has a floor shift.
This ~ I was watching the video and ! .32 saw the up shift on the column & thought ‘WTH ?!’ .
These also bent hoods like mad .
The step-sides appear to have congregated in Israel as these were generally thin on the ground even when they were newer.
The ’75 Sierra is the most typical of what I remember, with it being a two-wheel drive with an 8 foot bed. However, that particular one appears to be a 3/4 ton given the number of lugs.
Yohai, there is one thing scandalously missing from these pickups – none of them are rusty. These GM pickups, especially prior to about 1980 to 1983, rusted like there was no tomorrow.
This is a random picture I found but it gives a good idea of how these usually looked. And, where I live is not an area for much rust.
Wow, you found one of the really nice ones. And I’m not kidding.
The worst ones were from ’73 to about ’78. They would have wheel well rust
before 3 years in my area, and we didn’t even use salt then. The facelifted ’81 models were better,though that’s not saying much.
My uncle bought a 74 Chevy 3/4 ton crew cab for his construction business. By 1980 it was undriveable due to severe rust issues. His next truck was a Ford.
Yup definitely 8 lugs so a C20.
Thanks for the correction, both you and Jason.
Most step-sides you see are new imports from the US, already restored- hence their good condition. And yes, I’ve heard about the terrible rust problems those older C/Ks suffer from.
As for the red pickup, those are clearly bullet holes. 🙂
A BIL owns an 81 just like the green subject, a 6/auto (and painted brown, just to keep that thread from yesterday going). His brother bought it new. It has had a lot of body and paint work over the years to try and stay ahead of the tinworm but has been a reliable workhorse for decades.
I have such mixed feelings about these. They drive very nicely but the interiors may be the worst ever in an American pickup with huge swaths of molded plastic that turns color and crumbles with age.
Good point on the interior. My grandfather’s ‘79 had a red interior. Y the mid 1980s the plastic was faded and looked like it had acne due to the pockmarks.
He then bought the Ford he still has.
When I was in Jedda, Saudi Arabia in the early 2000s, the only ones I ever saw were the long-bed stepsides, and all painted in the same dark red color. Before that, I had never seen a long-bed stepside, anywhere .
Lovely trucks, thank you. I appreciate the movie clips. I vividly remember the brutal T/A chase scene when I saw the movie as a kid on TV, but never knew the title, and always wondered what it was.
I owned two of these trucks. One was a yellow 6 cyl stepside longbox, an unusual combination. It was an ex- Toronto Transit Commission fleet vehicle because they seemed to be the only owners of this combination that I ever saw.
It appeared in several scenes of the movie “Half-Baked” (starring Dave Chappell) because it looked so dilapidated. The movie producer rented the truck for several days, and paid more in rent than the truck was worth at the time.
From the time. My 76 Fleetside it was just a 2wd, but went most places friends took their 4wd trucks…..I say “Most’ because I was not an idiot. It served me well when rehabbing my old Edwardian home in St. Louis, Mo. and for weekends at the farm in the Ozarks I also had the 74 Audi Fox for those more civilized times.
That 1981 single-headlight Chevy grille might be one of the nastiest ever seen on a pickup. It looks like something off an industrial air conditioner. Chevy’s brochure photo makes it look even worse.
To me, that single headlight design looks “wrong” because it looks like some kind of mistake. It could almost work if the turn signal was moved from the bumper to a position under the headlight, or if the grille’s boxes had fewer “teeth”.
As it is, it looks like a mish-mash of two styles that were never intended to be used in one grille.
Actually I thought every version of that post-1980 square light front end looked wrong. Single lights or double, it just didn’t matter. The first few years of this series looked so much better.
While it’s jarring I’ve grown to kind of like this front end, I never liked the stacked headlight version of it any better and the later grilles became a bit too fussy, and still had that dreadful stacked headlight treatment. The later suburban grille with the slim lights was the best post facelift grille IMO
As much as I like this series of Chevy trucks (and the design that preceded and the one that followed are also quite attractive) one of the things that spoils this particular series for me is the instrument cluster of most examples. Many of these trucks had a great instrument panel, but with about 5 or is it 6 “holes” to fill, they were equipped with warning lights for just about everything besides speed and gas unless you specified full instrumentation from the factory. (Though I guess real gauges can be added now thanks to the aftermarket?)
For some reason, Chevy trucks always rusted earlier than their competition, at least on the rear bottom corners of the cab. Still, very attractive trucks with these step sides giving early 50s Fords a run for their money, looks wise.
Love them stepsides with the right stance! The rear fenders remind me of the pick up trucks of yore.
The vent windows in the doors on these Chevy’s were the worst ever. Fully opened, they were too small to grab any amount of air to channel into the cab. They were only good for venting cigarette smoke.
I always lusted after the trucks Jim Rockford’s dad drove on The Rockford Files. Yohai’s story and examples made me smile when I remembered that.
In the 70s, one of my best friends dad had a ’73 and then a ’78 Chevy Scottsdale. The ’73 was the first truck I remember that had air conditioning — and it rusted like nobody’s business!
The ’78 was a “Big 10” with a 454, automatic and air. It’s a small miracle that both my friend and I are still walking the earth after some of our teenage escapades in that truck! His dad is gone now, but my friend still owns it. It’s badly in need of restoration.
I love these old stepside/fleetside trucks, Chevy’s in particular with their lower beds and matched fenders were very attractive to me. Ford and Dodge beds looked clunky and mismatched, they were very tall, and the fenders were recycled from the rounder 50s trucks. I like this generation C/K the best too, I never understood the love the 67-72s get over the 73-87
and the driver may very well be the greatest least known car chase movie ever, great cars and a great cast.
Muscle truck on roadkill is another good one
Oops, can’t edit. I meant stepside/FLAREside trucks.
I have to admit there is a certain appeal to a short bed step side truck.
I had a red on red 1976 Cheyenne short-wide-box truck from about 1977 to 1979. A trip to Hawaii in 1977 where I saw quite a few wide-box trucks with rust lines above the rear wheel cutouts taught me where to always hose down every time I washed it. In most ways it was a neat truck, great looking and problem free. The main thing about it that irritated me was its small gas tank, which assured that I would be in a gas station every 200 miles or so, bending over to put gas into the too-low filler neck, at the slowest speed because otherwise it would spit back. But at least the tank wasn’t in the cab, like the 68 Chevy short narrow box truck I had.
I think there was a color coded wheel option for a few years. My good friend in high school father had a beat up 1977 GMC High Sierra that had them. There is a early 1980’s Chevy truck with the regular bed that has been sitting in the same spot in a person’s driveway for 20 years and it has them also.
I actually prefer the version with the round lights as the early square lighted ones had the lights placed that looked odd.
Thanks for all your comments.
BTW, I forgot to write in the article, how these C/K’s design stood the test of time and when you think of it, was the template for most GM full-size trucks that followed- just look at the current Silverado.
I have an ‘83 C10 with a 6 cylinder and a 4 speed granny low transmission. I think it’s kind of a rare combination. Also, the truck at the top is a K10. See the locking front hubs?
Posted that from my iPhone. Here it is right side up.
That’s a pretty one Daniel ;
When these were new that was a very common base model for farms .
The Muncie SM465 was a sturdy box and the compound low gear was useful when over loading it or pulling stumps out of fields .
My self I preferred the earlier grilles .
Thanks! Every other one I’ve seen with the 250 came with a 3 speed on the column. Most of the SM465s I’ve seen were on C20s and up. I like the look of the 1973/74 model. The simple grille and no gutters over the doors look nice.