Over the course of six decades from 1947 to 2007, Chevrolet trucks went through many changes. The most substantial of these changes serve as the dividing lines between Chevy truck generations. If you’re a classic truck enthusiast, you’re probably able to spot these body style cues and recall the corresponding model year ranges, but those who are new to classic trucks may not be so well-versed. With this in mind, we put together a clear and concise visual guide to 1947-13 Chevy truck generations.
1947-1955 Chevy Advance Design
The first of the Chevy truck generations we’ll discuss is known as the Advance Design. This was GM’s first postwar truck platform, and is usually listed as 1947-55 1st Series
• 1947-53 models featured a horizontal bar grille design, 2-piece windshields, with angle-topped bed sides.
• 1950 saw the introduction of modern tubular shocks.
• 1951 saw the introduction of door vent windows.
• 1954-55 models received rounded tail lamps, a crosstype bull nose grille, a 1-piece curved windshield, a redesigned dashboard, and a deeper bed with fl at-topped bed sides.
• Chevrolet 1955 1st series models were the last to be offered with 6-volt electronics. GMC continued to offer 12-volt electronics as an option.
1955-1959 Chevy Task Force
As Chevrolet tooled up for the “Task Force” platform, some factories continued to produce the earlier design as the 1955 1st Series, while the new design was produced as the 1955 2nd Series.
• 1955 was the first year for the optional 265ci Small Block V8.
• 1955 2nd Series Models featured a wrap-around windshield.
• The rare and desirable fiberglass-bed Chevrolet Cameo pickup is offered from 1955-58. 1958 trucks introduced dual headlamps.
• Fleetside pickups replaced the Cameo in late 1958.
1960-1966 Chevy C/K Series
The 1960 redesign featured a drop-center ladder frame, which allowed the cab to sit lower. It also marked the introduction of the C/K designations for Chevrolet, “C” for 2-wheel drive models, “K” for 4-wheel drive models. A more sophisticated suspension design provided a more car-like ride.
• Series 10, 20, 30, and 40 (C or K) were badged as “Apache”, etc.
• Series 50 and 60 series trucks were badged as “Viking.”
• The largest 70, 80, and 90 series models were badged as “Spartan”, etc.
• Chevrolet trucks were available with smooth Fleetside” or fendered “Stepside” beds. GMC called these “Wideside” and “Fenderside.”
• 1960-62 models used a torsion bar front suspension and a coil spring rear suspension.
• 1963-66 models upgraded to a coil spring front suspension.
• 1964-66 models changed to a flat windshield design.
• 1966 introduced the 327ci V8 and Turbo-Hydramatic (TH) transmission
1967-1972 Chevy C/K Series
The 1967-72 Chevrolet and GMC trucks were dubbed “Action Line.” Most models in this truck generation were built with coil spring rear suspension. All 1967-72 four-wheel drive trucks had leaf springs on both axles.
• 1967 was the last model year without side markers.
• In 1968, a 50th Anniversary package for Chevrolet trucks featured a distinctive white-gold-white paint scheme.
• The Longhorn 3/4 ton trucks debuted in 1968, adding an extra 6″ to the bed.
• The short wheelbase K5 Blazer debuted in 1969 along with the GMC version, known as the Jimmy.
• For 1970, the 396ci big block V8 was enlarged to 402ci, yet still sold as a 396.
• 1971 introduced the Cheyenne comfort trim package for Chevrolet and the Sierra package for GMC.
• 1971 brought front disc brakes on all light-duty trucks.
1973-1986 Chevy C/K, 1987-1991 Chevy R/V Series
For 1973, Chevrolet and GMC trucks were tested in a wind tunnel and designed for better aerodynamics. The wheelbase was extended and a dual rear wheel option was offered on one-ton pickups. Some enthusiasts refer to this generation as the “Square Body” Chevy truck.
• An all-new carbon steel ladder frame designed with a “drop center” was introduced.
• The fuel tank was moved outboard of the frame rails beneath the cab floor to offer up to 40 gallons of fuel capacity.
• 1973 introduced the Crew Cab option with the choice of 3+3 seating or lockable storage in the rear cab.
• Two-wheel drive trucks used independent front suspension.
• Power windows and locks were offered as an option in 1977.
• 1978 introduced the first diesel engines.
• For 1987, the C/K designation was changed to R/V to distinguish these trucks from the upcoming GMT400 generation.
1988-1998 Chevy C/K Series (GMT400)
All 4th generation C/K trucks, including four-wheel drive models, received independent front suspension. This Chevy truck generation was officially designated GMT400, but some enthusiasts refer to it as “OBS,” short for Old Body Style.
• From 1990-93, a performance model called 454SS was offered with a 454ci V8, sport suspension, and quick ratio steering.
• An updated fascia debuted along with the mandated center high-mount stoplight.
• A turbo-diesel was made available beginning in 1992.
• Vortec V8s debuted in 1995 with high-flow cylinder heads, new camshaft, roller valve lifters, and higher compression for increased power and efficiency.