After having an embarrassing accident involving the ’86 Ranger and my house, I was truckless again. I liked having a beater truck for odd jobs, and was on the lookout. A friend’s neighbor was getting rid of his truck, and it fit the bill.
It was an oddity, that’s for sure. The ’87 Chevy truck, I am pretty sure, held the distinction of being the last column-shift 3-speed standard truck made. The three-speed combined with the 4.3 TBI would make it a pretty uncommon truck.
While it didn’t look great, the body and frame were decent enough. It was a plain-Jane stripper, though. The only options it had was power steering and brakes. It ran well, and pulled along OK. As I had some home renovations to do, the truck would come in handy hauling stuff to the dump and what-not.
This generation of the Chevy truck must win some award for the largest warning lights ever put in a vehicle. Too cheap to buy the gauge package? How about some giant red reminders! At least there’d be no missing them if they came on. The comically big gas gauge was great for showing you just how much fuel you were using. Going around turns and hills caused it to bob and wander all over the place. Luckily the 4.3 was pretty decent on fuel.
The truck worked well enough I figured that I’d put some time and effort into fixing it up a bit. A new set of doors and a good set of fenders were gotten, as well as a nicer grille and rad support to match. I had sold the Coronet, and figured I would fix this up as something to use for the summer. After fixing it up, and having fixed up a ’70, I found these trucks, were a step down from the ’67-72 trucks. The cabs seemed a lot smaller, and a lot more cramped. The doors didn’t fit all that well. I read somewhere that the doors were installed on the cab, and the roof and back wall installed after the doors were on. I don’t know – but I could never get the doors to shut well in it. On a positive note, I really liked the stacked headlights on these. In my opinion, it was the nicest looking vehicle to ever have stacked lights.
We tried hauling the camper with this truck as well. It would do it, but it wasn’t happy about it. Paul sums it up in this article. There was way too wide a gap between second and third, and the 4.3 couldn’t make enough power to overcome the frontal area resistance of the camper. You’d have to wind the guts out of it in second, and jam it into third, and hope you’d gotten into the power range of the engine to pull it along. Another annoyance was that the shifter would hang up between gears. The ’70 didn’t do this. I’d tried putting new bushings in it, but that didn’t help it at all.
It wasn’t hard to sell. I wasn’t in love with it. I replaced this with another cheapish truck to haul the camper around. What can I say – It made sense at the time, though not so much now.