A Brief History of the C-10
When GM released its C-series pickups in 1960, little did they know that they would be laying the groundwork for what pickup trucks would come to be decades later. Even though Chevy had outsold Ford for eight out of ten years during the 50s and seemed to be doing well against the new offerings from Ford and Dodge, the success of the F-1’s fourth-generation Styleside pickups was cause for concern. When Ford announced it was working on a new fifth-generation truck that would be released in 1967, the folks at GM grew not just concerned but worried. They rushed a new truck into production, C/K (C for 2wd and K for 4wd), and hoped for the best.
Part of the beauty of the second generation of C/K trucks is that GM recognized the ever-changing dynamic for pickup sales. Consumers were not just buying their light-duty trucks for work or farm they were using them as family daily drivers. To help attract potential buyers (and please wives who they knew often had the final buying decisions), they loaded up their C-10s with many amenities and conveniences only found in sedans. The effect was so impactful that this generation became known as the “glamour era.”
The 1970 Chevrolet/GMC C10
The decision to add comforts and amenities to their trucks was a radical idea. Ford and Dodge were stuck in the “truck is a truck” mindset and refused to enhance their trucks over essential utilitarian functions. While they concentrated on payload and towing capacity, GM was building a whole new kind of truck that, in many ways, ran more like a luxury sedan than a half-ton truck.
Pickup Style And Trim Levels
The 1970 C10 was offered in both “Fleetside” and “Stepside” configurations, matching Ford's Styleside and Flareside offerings. According to production records, the Fleetside with an 8’ bed was the top seller with over 234,904 units sold. (The 8’ Stepside sold only 11,857). About 80k customers chose the Stepside and Fleetside pickups with a 6.5 ft bed, with 40,754 produced of each variant.
Beginning in 1968, GM streamlined its trim levels to the Base model, which could be improved by adding a Custom Appearance Option. The Custom Comfort and Convenience option, with the Custom Sport Truck Option.
The “Custom Appearance” package added exterior features like unique moldings around the radiator, front and rear bumper, and front and rear windows. Inside, the company offered vinyl floor mats and spots for instrument control knobs.
The “Custom Comfort and Convenience Option” included extra padding on the seat, a cloth seat with vinyl trim, padded sun visors and armrests, a cigarette lighter, and ashtray.
The “Custom Sport Truck Option” was the top line with everything from the previous packages (except the seats were vinyl). It also had wall-to-wall carpeting, with an option for bucket seats with a center console should the customer wish.
There were many choices for the customer as to what engine they preferred. While the 250 slant six was standard on six-cylinder models, the 307 V8 was standard on V8 models. Other engine choices included the 292 Six and the 350 and 400 V8s.
A 3-speed manual transmission with overdrive was standard for C10 trucks, but there were other options. A 4-speed manual and the 2-speed Powerglide Turbo-Hydromatic 350 were also available.
The Chevrolet C10's independent front suspension with coil springs offered a smooth ride and easy handling. Strategically placed shock absorbers help with recoil and rebound, The rear suspension had two-stage coil springs with heavy-duty leaf springs as an option. The truck handled the road surface well to provide a soft ride when empty, but the suspension strengthened to give a firm ride when a load was being carried.
The most popular C10 was the Fleetside version with an 8’ cargo bed. The straight, square contours of the truck gave the truck a simple, rugged look. For Chevy C10s, the front grille contained six slat-panels sides bookended by square chrome-wrapped headlights on either side. A center Chrome cross-member with the Chevrolet name was across the midsection of the front. The Blue Bowtie logo was affixed to the front of the hood.
The regular cab configuration was the only one offered in 1970 (crew cab would not begin until 1973 - even though both International Harvester, Ford, and Dodge already had them on their trucks). The C10 cab was double-walled and insulated to keep noise levels from entering the cabin and ensure strength.
The trucks were offered in both 8’ and 6.5’ cargo beds. Stepside trucks had a small footstep built into the side behind the doors, allowing owners to access the cargo area from the truck’s side. The sides of the Stepside trucks had square flared-out rear fenders.
Side marker lights have been a requirement since 1968 and are visible on the side of the front and rear quarter panels. Wide panoramic windshields (both front and rear) offered good visibility for the driver, (The small rear window was replaced with the second generation C10s in 1968). Small rounded side mirrors were standard, with three-point travel mirrors offered as options.
GM offered 15 different exterior paint colors for their Chevrolet trucks. Many of the colors were offered in unique two-tone combinations. Some of the most popular colors were Medium Blue, Olive Green, Medium Gold, Cardinal Red, and Jet Black.
As mentioned, Chevrolet offered amenities inside their trucks to make them more comfortable to ride in. Seats were made with deep foam and covered with easy-to-clean vinyl in one of four interior colors (the middle trim option had cloth seats with vinyl trim). The cab offered excellent interior volume with plenty of room to stretch out. Other comfort features included a heater and defroster, a dome lamp, rubber floor mats, a padded dash, and sunshades, with bucket seats and a center console, which were options customers could order. The sales brochure from 1970 summed it up nicely when it read, “Hard-working trucks shouldn’t be hard to work in.”
The 1970 Chevrolet C10 offered several safety features on the C10, including push-button seat belts, a non-glare finish in all necessary areas, and safety locks on the doors. The instrument panel consisted of three easy-to-read dials that displayed the speedometer on the left, a fuel gauge on the right, and a tachometer in the center. Temperate and oil pressure gauges were clustered in small circular gauges below.
Chevrolet offered air-conditioning as an option for the C10 with low-profile vent plane latches and easy-to-use controls. An AM/FM radio was optional (though it would become standard the next year), and an 8-track player could be added should the customer wish to have one. A large push-button glovebox sat in front of the passenger seat.