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Segment Seven: 1960-1966 Fleetside Pickups

Chevrolet’s Early V-8 Pickup Era ended after only a five year run, which compares to nine years for the Advanced Design Pickup Era. The only 1959 pickup carried over was the car based El Camino. This was the El Camino’s last year until 1964. One of management’s key motives for a new truck series was to get improved market coverage. That coverage had mostly to do with medium- and heavy duty trucks. Historically Chevrolet was always known as a light-duty truck builder and only second as a medium duty producer. In 1955 with the addition of truck V-8 engines Chevrolet’s engineers began to build bigger trucks. The only change of note concerning pickups was that the one-ton 4 wheel drive model was dropped, Chevrolet continued to build half- and 3/4-ton 4WD trucks only. Maximum GVWs for the half-ton 4 wheel drive models was increased to 5,200 lbs. from 5,000 lbs.

Model Series designations for 1960 were completely revised. The new system began with a letter prefix. For example, a “C” prefix indicated a conventional cab; a “K” indicated a 4 wheel drive model; a “P” model was forward control; an “L” was a low cab forward; an “S” was a school bus and an “M” was a tandem.

A half-ton pickup was now either a model C1404 or C1434. The “C” designated a conventional cab; the “1” half-ton; the “4” a 6 1/2-foot body and the “04” and “34” were for Stepside or Fleetside body types.

The C/K designation became well known over the years and continued in use through the 1997 model year.

Chevrolet engineers worked overtime changing the proportions of the new light-duty truck line for more favorable weight distribution and lower overall heights. First of all, they increased the front axle loading by up to eight percent by adding 5.6-inches to the CA dimension (the back of the cab to the center of the rear axle) and by moving the front axle back by 1.88 inches.

Wheelbase length for the half-ton was increased by one inch to 115 inches and on the the 3/4-ton by 3 3/4-inches to 127 inches, but the one-ton was decreased by 2 inches to 133 inches. The half-ton and 3/4-ton cab models utilized a new, drop-center, X-type frame assembly. This construction was necessary to beef up the frame because of the new four-wheel independent suspension system, especially for the front torsion bars. The new frame construction coupled with the new cab styling, which was 3.88-inches lower than the previous cab, reduced overall vehicle height by up to seven inches. This substantial reduction in height provided a lower center of gravity and improved vehicle stability. A second benefit of the reduced height was the lower seat-to-ground dimension, which made the cab entrance and exit easier.

The new cab dimensions resulted in greater driver and passenger comfort. Cab width (hip room) was increased by 5.8 inches; shoulder room by 5.1 inches; interior height by 1.3-inches and legroom by 1.9-inches. For all-around visibility for easier, safer driving Chevrolet engineers offered an extra-large rear window as an option on all pickups. The “dog leg” windshield returned for 1960 except that it was wider and higher. Total glass area was increased 263 square inches. Side door glass and ventipanes were reduced because of the new styling.

All 1960 Chevrolet trucks, including mediums and heavy-duties, featured new independent front suspensions with the exception of 4 wheel drive and forward control models. The pickup’s front springing was by extra heavy and durable torsion bars while rear springing for half- and 3/4-ton pickups employed coil springs. One-ton pickups retained the use of leaf springs in the rear but with torsion bars in the front.

For 1961 Chevrolet introduced the Corvair 95 lie of short wheelbase, rear engine light-duty trucks. The line included a van, wagon and two pickups – with or without a swing-down side ramp called a ‘Ramp-Side’. Corvair pickups were designed for light and bulky loads. In no sense were they expected to replace the hard working conventional half-ton pickups.

The 1962 Chevrolet pickups featured a new hood and grille style. An optional alternator and directional signals were made standard equipment in all but one series. The pickup line continued to consist of the Corvair, 6 1/2- and 8-foot Fleetsides and Stepsides, the 8-foot Stepside 3/4-ton and the 9 foot Stepside one-ton. Engine options for Series C10 through C30 included the standard 235.5 cubic inch six and the optional 283 cubic inch 160 horsepower V-8.

Major engineering changes for 1963 included replacing the light-duty model’s torsion bar front suspension with coil springs and replacing the former standard six cylinder engine family with all new 230 cubic inch and 292 cubic inch sixes. The former 235.5 and 261 cubic inch sixes remained the standard engines for K10 and K20 pickups only. A restyled grille freshened up all pickup’s front appearances.

The most significant improvement for 1964 was the change from the dogleg windshield to the conventional curved type. It provided easier entrance and exits for driver and passengers and looked much better too. The 230 and 292 six cylinder engines continued as the standard engines for all 2 wheel drives and beginning in 1964 for all 4 wheel drive pickups also. The 235.5 and 261 sixes were dropped. The 283 cubic inch V-8 remained optional for all C/K pickups. The El Camino returned after a four year absence. It was built on the Chevelle’s 115-inch wheelbase chassis.

The 1964 models continued through 1966 without any changes worth noting. The Corvair 95 pickups were discontinued after 1964 when the new front engine Chevrolet van replaced the Corvair vans. The El Camino pickups continued as a staple of the Chevrolet line. Chevrolet continued to be America’s favorite pickups throughout the years 1960 to 1966. Chevrolet sold 588,320 trucks in 1966, which was its biggest year ever.

Only the 1960 and 1961 Chevrolet pickups had the front styling shown on this 1961 C10 Fleetside pickup. The only appearance to differentiate between the 1960 and 1961 trucks were that the parking light ovals were open around the spinners in 1961 whereas in the 1960 models this area was entirely closed. The C1434 truck shown is powered by the 283 cubic inch Trademaster V-8 engine. Its transmission is the Powerglide (Photo: Don Bunn)

The Greenwood, DE Volunteer Fire Dept. owned this 1963 K2534 3/4-ton Chevrolet Fleetside 4×4 brush fire pickup. It had a 250-gallon water tank and a 300 gpm pump. It was rated for a max payload of 3300 lbs. Its standard engine was the 230 six (Photo: Don Bunn)

Chevrolet pickups were given a restyled grille for 1964. It’s a little difficult to detect in this photo but its top grille bar has the Chevrolet name displayed in black block letters. This grille continued through 1966. One has to distinguish between model years by the location of the model numberplate seen here on the lower section of the front fenders. A 1964 model C1534 half-ton Fleetside pickups is shown. (Photo: AAMA

The 1962 Chevrolet Corvair 95 Loadside pickup, shown, was one of two Corvair pickups. The other was the Rampside. It had a side gate with a hinge, which doubled as a ramp when opened. Corvair’s load height was only 16 1/4-inches. The 95 in its name comes from its 95-inch wheelbase. Corvair pickups had a huge cargo area in terms of cubic capacity but is maximum payload was limited to 1850 lbs.

Note how this 1965 Chevrolet model C1534 half-ton Fleetside pickup shown has its model number placed high up on the cowl. Standard engine was the 230 six; the 292 six and the 283 V-8 were options. (Photo: AAMA)

The 1966 pickup’s model number plate was moved to low on the front fenders. Its shape differs from that of the 1964 model however. The 1966’s plate was horizontal in shape versus the “T” shape of the 1964. Shown is a 1966 Chevrolet C1504 Stepside half-ton pickup. Its standard engine was the 250 six. The 292 six and the 283 and 327 V-8s were options. (Photo: Don Bunn)

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