After a recent bout of two plus weeks of sub-zero (Fahrenheit) temperatures, Mother Nature is offering up springtime weather for the foreseeable future. Naturally, this turns one’s mind toward outside activities and needs around the house. Part of those needs involve my tiller, which was requiring some attention.
Leaving the repair shop, my face brightened when I saw this old Chevrolet backing up to the loading dock. Seeing the owner, I stopped and introduced myself, which led to a fantastic conversation with Jim, the second owner of our featured C10.
Jim bought his pickup in 1985 from Weidinger Chevrolet in the small town of Vienna, Missouri. About forty-five minutes south of Jefferson City, Weidinger, which has closed within the past year, also sold Jim’s C10 new in 1970. Jim said this pickup had about 70,000 miles on it at the time of his purchase.
Model year 1970 was the fourth year of this generation of Chevrolet pickup, the generation which is my unabashed favorite of all GM pickups. It was also a year prior to a significant update being made – and not just in the nose which would be modified ever so slightly but obviously for 1971.
Jim’s pickup is from the last year Chevrolet had drum brakes on the front axle as discs became standard for 1971. I was reminded of this change upon seeing the six lug wheel Jim had in the bed for his spare. With the transition to disc brakes for 1971, wheels on half-ton models like this one became five lug affairs.
Another element about Jim’s pickup that grabbed my attention is the wood floor of the bed. For 1970, as had been the case since 1967, one had the choice of a wood or steel floor with this availability continuing into the next generation which debuted in 1973. However, the availability of a wood floor was limited to a dwindling number of models as time wore on. Prior to 1967, GM pickups all had wood floors in the bed.
Chevrolet’s brochures for 1971 and 1972 state wood floors are preferable in some applications, such as moving livestock, stating it provides for more solid footing. Given this pickup was sold in an area in which crops are on hoof and not in rows, I would hazard a guess this could have been a consideration when the dealer ordered this pickup. Or maybe the dealer simply preferred wood. It could go either way.
Jim said he’s hauled many things in this pickup but he didn’t mention cattle.
If I were ordering a new 1970 Chevrolet half-ton to haul cattle, or anything else for that matter, Jim’s pickup is packing exactly what I would have chosen for a pulling engine. While there were two different six-bangers available, in 250 and 292 cubic inch varieties, along with a 307 cubic inch (5.0 liter) V8, what you see before you is the time tested and proven 350 (5.7 liter) V8.
The area around Vienna – and much of Central Missouri south of the Missouri River for that matter – was settled by German immigrants. The terrain of this area reminded them of home, thus why they settled there, and they sometimes named the towns accordingly.
In turn, if the terrain reminded them of home, it means there are hills. And there are hills aplenty for many miles in any direction of Vienna. So if hauling any type of load in such hills, a 350 would be just the ticket.
Interestingly, Chevrolet published both gross and net horsepower and torque ratings for 1970. The differences between the ratings are not consistent among these engines, with the 350 having a fifty-five horsepower and forty-five ft-lbs of torque discrepancy when going from gross to net. Of note are the peaks being 400 to 500 rpm lower in net measurement than was the case with gross measurement.
In net form, this 350 made 200 horsepower and 310 ft-lbs of torque when new.
But time marches on and all things age. Jim told me his C10 is using a bit more oil than it once did. Plus, the transmission drips.
Jim said he long ago realized it is far cheaper to keep adding oil and transmission fluid than it is to overhaul everything, especially for the 1,000 miles per year he has averaged since 1985. He knows a person who restores this generation of GM pickup, but he’s not seeing the need with his pickup.
A case in point is the seat. Time has not been kind to the cloth. Jim said he was quoted something over $1,000 to refurbish the seat. He opted to simply sit on a towel.
Similar was the case with the air-conditioner. Jim said it worked great but one day the compressor seized, causing the belt to smoke. A quick snip to cut the belt solved that problem.
This leads to another realization. This pickup is very well equipped for the time. With the 350, air-conditioning, a radio, power brakes, fancier upholstery, a three-speed automatic transmission (the Powerglide was still offered in 1970), and likely power steering (I didn’t look), Jim’s pickup was not a low-buck stripper when new.
For comparison, the 1970 Ford F-100 my father purchased new had the standard 240 straight-six with a three-speed manual. A heater and an AM radio were its only options.
A vintage pickup such as our featured C10 is a guaranteed conversation starter, at least in the Midwest.
There are many people who benefit from having a pickup. They’ve identified their needs and acquired accordingly. Jim did so and it’s been serving him quite ably for thirty-five years – and will undoubtedly continue to do so.
May we all find such a pickup if our needs call for it.
Found March 5, 2021
Jefferson City, Missouri
1972 Chevrolet C10 – Justified and Ancient by JS
1972 C30 Longhorn Camper by PN
Is that little label above the key something he added (Off-On-Start)? Doesn’t look factory.
Nicely appointed – dash air vents, actual gauges for battery, temp, and generator, it is only missing a dash mounted clock in front of the steering wheel. A large glove box is important.
Still in remarkable shape too. Hard to find a trace of rust.
Is that key fob in the shape of the State of Missouri?
Great shots, thanks!
Yes, the label above the key was stock. The small space in the middle of the dash was for an optional tach rather than a clock. I notice that the steering wheel is black. They were originally color keyed, but only black replacements were sold in the parts department. I had a cracked one, in green, and only black was available.
Yes in regard to the key fob. It’s a not uncommon key fob in this state as I think we have one somewhere; when I grew up in Illinois, I never saw similar.
Nice article and great truck! I wrote up my 2000 Sierra recently, which was purchased with far more miles (230,000) but same general intent….a work truck. We had a 1970 GMC work truck when I was growing up, this brings back a lot of memories of it. No A/C, but pretty well loaded up otherwise. We did have the same label/emblem above the ignition switch too…..maybe that was a government edict? Our 1970 had the disc brakes and I remember a fairly large emblem on the exterior announcing that, maybe on the tailgate.
My buddy’s dad had a 1970 Chevy pickup with front disc brakes. There was a black, silver, and yellow sticker on the upper part of the tailgate proclaiming “disc brakes”. I think his truck was a C-20, which may explain discs on a 1970 edition, if they weren’t available on the C-10.
I’m sure it was a ’71, possibly titled as a ’70 if is was sold in 1970. Power assist was optional on the 10 series. I had one.
Were discs not even available on the C-10 until ’71, or were they optional for a few years before that, then became standard in ’71? I don’t know the answer, but would guess the latter. My sense is that most American vehicles from this era went through that type of progression, rather than discs suddenly going from unavailable to standard in one fell swoop.
It occurred to me when writing this Jim purchasing his pickup in 1985 is comparable to buying an ’06 now. That’s sobering.
That’s a beauty. I grew up with a ’69 C20 in the same color combo. Ours was 4WD with a floor mounted manual transmission with “Granny” low. The bed had pretty much disintegrated by 1980 or so, and was replaced with a flat bed made from creosote coated rough oak planks. It was used from new on our 10 acre hilly wooded plot for plowing snow, spreading sand and salt in the Winter, hauling building materials, moving topsoil, etc. etc., etc. I learned to drive on that truck at the age of about 13. No power steering, manual drum brakes. It never saw a wash or wax, it was a trusty battered workhorse. Dad eventually replaced it in ’84 with a new Bronco II with all the creature comforts. An old snowmobile trailer was then used to replace the bed that was immediately missed. The pickup was purchased by a family friend who restored it and continued to use it for lighter duty work. I think it had about 40,000 miles on it by 1984. I missed it, but the automatic Bronco II with fully automated Fisher plow rig on the front made winters a lot easier without having to manually flip the plow from side to side. The first really heavy late winter snow proved the V6 Bronco only adequate for heavy plowing duties, but it did the job. I always missed going out plowing at night in the drafty cab of that Chevy though, and the roar of its unmuffled 350 climbing the snowy hills. Great truck.
My uncle was a grave digger. He worked hard. This was his truck. Same color. Same wooden bed. In the back of this truck, he hauled the tools of his trade – various types of shovels, a wheel barrow and propane lanterns for night digs.
A simple attractive handsome truck. Sweet find.
Very nice! This was the last generation of Chevy truck that I really, really like. And this one is equipped in one of the two ways I would want one. The other is a strippo 6 with either a 3 on the tree or the 4 speed on the floor.
Air conditioning in a truck was really rare in my part of the world back then. The first truck I ever saw with it was a 72 Chevy.
Thinking about it, this is the oldest pickup I’ve ever seen with a/c.
Whoa, love to have this one. Loaded too.Power steering reservoir and pump are really buried.
Optional auxiliary leaf springs for the rear coils. Very interesting.
He bought it the same year I bought my ’66 F100. But they’re polar opposites in terms of how they’re equipped, which is pretty unusual, in the case of this Chevy.
His truck is in better shape, especially the interior, than my truck. But then I drive mine about twice as much per year. 🙂
The the brake light wire lead, seen connected at the bottom of the proportioning valve, sure has an afterthought look to its routing.
Just a great looking truck. This one would be a great candidate for a restoration, factory air is a big plus. I’ll bet the next owner will fix it up. My buddy still had a 3/4 ton model like this with the 400 CID engine, it’s still with his family. Old trucks are great for hauling stuff, at least for short trips. I traded my ’66 F250 for a new truck when I started going to LA every month for my swap meet business. That ’66 was a beauty too, though it wasn’t restored either. Lot’s of fun with these, especially if they fit your needs.
Interesting about the wood bed being promoted for livestock hauling. I can’t remember when I last saw livestock being hauled in a pickup bed – it’s always in a trailer now.
This truck’s high level of equipment suggests to me that it may have been someone’s retirement vehicle when new – a few cushy luxuries like a deluxe upholstered seat and air conditioning, but nothing too newfangled like FM radios or all-steel beds.
Great find; I hope Jim and his truck enjoy many more 1,000-mi. years.
Like you, it’s been years since I’ve seen anyone haul livestock in the bed of a pickup. Cattle racks used to be common, not so much anymore.
However, I do remember my grandfather going to the sale barn and purchasing a cow and her calf. He had both in the bed of his ’79 Scottsdale but it was sitting rather low.
Some artistic license was practiced in the chassis advertisement drawing…
Front hub seems to depict the 6-bolt 10 Series design.
Rear hub is a floater, which was only offered in 8-bolt 20 Series.
I think 1970 might be one of my favorite years for trucks – I like the Chevy, the Ford, and perhaps to a lesser extent the Dodge. Of the ’67-’72 generation, I think the ’69/’70 had the most attractive grille (as did the ’70 on the Ford), but all this is of course subjective. No wonder the owner just keeps driving it as is – it’s perfect!
An honest, working truck. This generation of C10 has become very popular with truck fans. I wish my one uncle still had his basic 67 long box. But being a well used farm truck, It has been a pile of parts for a couple of decades at least.
Well optioned, Jim’s pickup doesn’t look like it requires much attention on the exterior or the interior except for the bench seat. Rebuild the engine and tranny, polish the paint and maybe replace the wood in the bed. That’s what I would do if such a pickup was willed to me.
My ’71 C10 was green, but a stripper with a radio block off plate, three on the tree (excellent late all-sychro version) and the 250ci six. Stylish basic work truck. That dash is my all time favorite in its modern simplicity. It is far away from you and makes the cab seem roomier than it is. Gas tank behind the seat limited travel for long-legged drivers.
Terrific find and feature, Jason. Until I read this, I had no idea that trucks came with wooden bed floors like this one. I wonder what kind of care had to go into to maintaining it.
I also love dealer stickers like this one. It’s hard for me to put into correct context what this then-15 year old truck would have looked like in 1985 with only 70,000 miles on it, given that vehicles of this vintage tended to rust / disintegrate quickly.
I also like this generation of Chevrolet / GMC pickup. When I was growing up, I was always curious about them, only because I was born toward the beginning of the very, very long run of the C/K pickups that followed.
Joe, from what I could tell, the wood had been painted body color at the factory. The wood in Jim’s bed was showing some deterioration near the tailgate (not captured in the pictures) and I’ve seen older wood beds in which little of the wood was left.
I would think maintaining them would require periodic painting. That would seem to be easier than replacing the planks.
I’ve noticed that older pickups sometimes have wooden beds, but had never really given much thought to how pickups transitioned from wood to metal. How long was wood available in GM pickups? When did other brands begin offering/go exclusively with metal?
The narrow bed style with exposed fenders (Flareside, Stepside, etc.) always had a wooden floor, and would be available until the respective companies quit making them: 1985 for Dodge, ’86 for Ford, ’87 for GM.
As for the wide beds, Ford used all-steel construction from when they started making them in 1957, and Dodge and IH did the same in ’59. GM was the odd holdout in only using wood floors from 1958-66, then offering a choice of floors on the ’67-72s.
The ’73 and ’76 brochures say Fleetside beds had steel floors standard, with wood available on the 8′ bed only. The ’77 brochure makes no mention of a wood floor, so ’76 must have been the last year.
Jason, you’ll get me to choose a pickup one day, if you keep offering vehicles like this…
And I guess the Weidinger family could likely have come from Vienna to Vienna….
Moving from Vienna to Vienna could make the transition easier. Other than the name, I’m thinking there isn’t much in common between the two…
This area has some really great last names, although I would have hated to have been a youngster having to learn how to spell such a name. There are Stuckenschnieders, Schaefferkoetters, and another family by the name of Sydenstricker has a chain of John Deere tractor stores.
The 71’s/72’s with their egg crate grills looked best IMHO. I had a ’71 with a 307 and 3+granny four speed, a stripper in phone company white. Excellent truck but at 100K miles it burned some oil and didn’t have A/C. Not a spec of rust on it, I ended up selling it to a hot rodder.
“With the transition to disc brakes for 1971, wheels on half-ton models like this one became five lug affairs.” So from 1960 to 1970 all half-ton Chevrolets & GMCs had 6-lug wheels regardless of drivetrain? And I think the 4×4 (“K”) models always had 6-lug even after the ’71 brake change as I’ve never seen a 5-lug 4×4 model.
Five-lug half-tons were apparently discontinued after the end of the C/K line (on the GMT400 platform) as every half-ton I’ve seen from the GMT800 series & onward uses a 6-lug design. I guess history repeated itself after 40 years!