A Guide To 1967-1972 Chevy/GMC Pickups
The 1967-1972 Chevrolet/GMC C/K series of pickups is well on its way to achieving icon status, just as the 1955-1957...
The '67-'72 Chevrolet/GMC C/K series of pickups is well on its way to achieving icon status, just as the '55-'57 Chevy passenger cars have. Neither the tri-five Chevys nor the '67-'72 pickups ever became unpopular. They maintained a solid popularity over the years, and that popularity rose steadily throughout the 90s. The demand for nice C/K examples has intensified as the most desirable trucks are quickly snapped up.
The progression of prices and availability has many parallels to the tri-five Chevys. The most deluxe, high-performance examples tend to take off first. As prices for high-demand models rise, so do the prices of less deluxe vehicles. When either the price or the availability raise the bar too high for the average enthusiast, people move on to their second and third choices. In the case of the passenger cars, the convertibles, Nomads, and fuel-injected or dual four-barrel Bel Air hardtops took off first. Then people went after the nicest 210 models, followed by premium 150 models.
With '67-'72 C/K trucks, the fully-loaded, big-block-powered shortbeds lead the price parade. The small-block-equipped versions of loaded trucks quickly followed. Then most people went after plainer shortbed trucks, while some free-thinkers started buying loaded longbeds.
Now that almost every enthusiast knows about the strong prices for nice '67-'72 Chevy pickups, the quest has split in two directions. One faction seeks the best condition truck regardless of trim level because they know they can add factory accessories or customize their trucks with modern components. A smaller group still seeks the top-of-the-line models, but they've had to make serious compromises regarding condition and completeness.
Most people tend to modify or restify their trucks. The amount of people doing factory-perfect, numbers-matching restorations is considerably smaller. Most builders favor a basically stock outward appearance, but it doesn't bother them to drop a 454 big-block into a truck that originally housed a 250ci six-cylinder. This egalitarian attitude has extended to people turning longbed trucks into shortbeds and making 4x4 trucks (and Blazers) into two-wheel-drive rigs. The finished product seems to matter more than the pedigree.
As the popularity of these classic pickups has increased, so has the availability of high-quality reproduction parts, which has made it easier and generally less expensive to restore a truck. This has also made it possible to restore trucks that might have been parted out in years past. The mechanical side of the parts equation is very favorable too. There's a great deal of interchangeability among Chevy engines, transmissions, and rearends. These trucks have cavernous engine compartments, so engine swaps are easy.
Like the previous Chevy/GMC installments of this builder's guide series, we refer to the trucks as Chevys, but everything applies to GMC trucks as well. The differences between the two brands are mostly cosmetic. The most noticeable difference is the grilles. Some people prefer Chevy grilles, some like GMC units, and many owners opt for custom billet or tube grilles.
These trucks use the popular C/K designations to signify two-wheel-drive (C Series) and four-wheel-drive (K Series). Chevrolet trucks follow the letter with the numbers 10, 20, or 30 which correspond to 1/2-, 3/4-, and 1-ton models respectively. Sport truck enthusiasts lean heavily toward the C10 models. GMC trucks also use the same C and K prefixes, but follow them by 1500, 2500, or 3500 to signify 1/2-, 3/4-, or 1-ton models.
The trucks were available in Fleetside and Stepside styles with either a short 61/2-foot bed or a long 8-foot bed. There has been an increase in the interest in loaded longbed Fleetside trucks, but forget about longbed Stepsides unless you're looking to win an ugly truck contest.
Fleetside trucks seem to have a popularity edge over the Stepside models. It's much easier to find loaded Fleetsides than similarly equipped Stepsides. If you find a big-block, air conditioned, full power accessories Stepside, that's a rare truck worth preserving.
Over the six-year run, more shortbed Fleetside trucks were produced than Stepsides. That's especially true for the '70-'72 models. Production numbers by bed style were pretty even for the first three years. Then in 1970 the Fleetsides took a considerable lead. That lead continued into 1971 when the Fleetside to Stepside ratio was about 3:2. In 1972, the ratio jumped to 2:1. The production number differences between Fleetsides and Stepsides was even more pronounced for longbed trucks. The differences grew yearly until 1972 when longbed Stepside production was only about 3 percent of the total run.
Besides their numerical advantage, Fleetside trucks were much more likely to have higher equipment levels. The Stepsides tended to be ordered as no-nonsense work trucks or fleet trucks, and many shortbed Stepside base model trucks were used by utility companies. We bought one of those former utility company trucks that didn't even have a radio, but we were pleased that it had a heater.
There's nothing particularly wrong with buying a stripped C10. They make fine starting points for a ground-up custom project. The bad news is that the price of a stripped truck is rarely less than the cost of adding the features found on a loaded truck. You might save a few bucks up front, but unless you intend to drive the truck "as is," a stripped truck will cost more in the long run.
Obviously, you can't order a new '67-'72 C10, so you have to deal with what's available. If you have several trucks from which to choose, our advice is to buy the best combination of condition and equipment. We rate body condition first and equipment level second. When comparing two similar trucks, the condition is the most important factor, especially if the differences are substantial. If the conditions are pretty equal, we'd pick the slightly worse body if it had a lot better equipment.
The completeness is important too. If a truck was a big-block, air conditioned, bucket seat truck, it doesn't mean a whole lot when those items are missing. The trim items are often missing or badly damaged. Lots of people used to throw away (or sell for pennies) Cheyenne trim pieces. Now that a basically stock exterior appearance is very popular, those trim pieces can be tough or expensive to replace.
It's a good idea to order as many reproduction parts catalogs as possible. Use the catalogs to learn what parts are being reproduced and how much they cost. When a seller suggests that you can easily buy new Fleetside woodgrain lower-side moldings for a few bucks, check the catalogs. Yes, you can buy the trim pieces, but at about $300 per side. Each little trim section runs about $40 to $60 and it takes lots of sections to do a truck.
Catalogs can also tell you that some parts are amazingly inexpensive. Fleetside taillight bezels are commonly dented or badly scratched. Reproduction bezels are available for approximately $15 each and that seems like a real bargain to us.
Many parts aren't presently being reproduced. Those parts need to be purchased at swap meets or through publications like Hemmings Motor News. Check the ads before you hit the swap meets so you'll have a reasonable idea of prices. You might not be able to get a seller to drop an outrageous price, but you'll be able to spot bargains when you see them.
As much as prices for '67-'72 Chevy pickups are rising, there isn't any reason to panic. They made about 3 million of these trucks and lots of them survived. Supplies are ample, so you can take your time to find a good truck at a fair price.