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1960-66 Chevrolet/GMC Truck Vehicle History


1960-1966 Chevrolet Trucks

The 1960-1966 Chevrolet trucks marked the first generation of the C/K series, a significant evolution in Chevrolet's approach to pickup design and functionality. This era introduced several key innovations and design shifts that set the stage for future developments in the truck industry. Below is an overview of the highlights and key developments of Chevrolet trucks during this foundational period.

Introduction of the C/K Series

  • C/K Naming Convention: The series introduced the C/K naming convention, where "C" stood for two-wheel drive and "K" for four-wheel drive. This clear distinction helped buyers understand the basic configuration of the truck, a practice that would continue in Chevrolet's truck lineup for decades.
  • Modern Design: These models featured more modern and car-like designs than their predecessors, with a lower profile, integrated cab and bed design (in certain models), and more attention to driver comfort and interior aesthetics.

Model Variants

  • Wide Range of Models: The lineup included a variety of models, from light-duty to medium-duty trucks, catering to both personal and commercial use. The most popular models were the C10 and K10 for half-ton pickups, with heavier-duty options available in the C20, K20, and the one-ton C30.
  • Body Styles and Configurations: Chevrolet offered these trucks in several body styles, including fleetside (smooth side) and stepside (with steps behind the cab and exposed wheel wells) beds. Additionally, there were various cab configurations, such as the standard cab, the "Suburban" carryall, and the panel truck.

Engine Options

  • Diverse Engine Lineup: The engine options ranged from inline-six engines known for their reliability and economy to more powerful V8 engines. Initially, the 235 cu in (3.9L) inline-six was a carryover from the earlier series, but it was soon replaced by the more efficient 230 cu in (3.8L) and 250 cu in (4.1L) inline-six engines.
  • Introduction of the Small-Block V8: A significant development was the introduction of the Chevrolet small-block V8 in these trucks, starting with the 283 cu in (4.6L) V8, providing superior power and performance for those needing more than what the six-cylinder engines offered.

Technological and Design Innovations

  • Independent Front Suspension (IFS): For the first time, Chevrolet offered independent front suspension on its trucks, improving ride quality and handling over the traditional solid axle design. This feature was a major selling point for those using their trucks for daily driving.
  • Safety and Comfort: These models saw improvements in safety features and interior comfort, including better seating, heating, and ventilation systems, as part of Chevrolet's effort to make trucks more appealing for personal use.

Legacy and Impact

The 1960-1966 Chevrolet trucks represent a pivotal moment in the evolution of the pickup truck, blending utility with increased attention to design, comfort, and performance. These trucks laid the groundwork for future innovations and set new standards for what drivers could expect from a pickup. Today, they are celebrated for their classic design and are highly sought after by collectors and enthusiasts, marking a fondly remembered chapter in Chevrolet's truck history. This era's trucks not only met the needs of their time but also anticipated the growing trend of using trucks for both work and leisure, a concept that has become central to the modern pickup truck market.


1960-1966 GMC Trucks

The GMC trucks of the 1960-1966 era paralleled Chevrolet's offerings in many ways due to both brands being divisions of General Motors. However, GMC trucks did exhibit several key differences that set them apart, catering to a slightly different market segment with a focus on more power and durability for commercial use. Here’s an overview of the differences for GMC trucks during the 1960-1966 period compared to their Chevrolet counterparts:


Model Naming and Range

  • Model Naming: GMC used a different naming convention for their trucks. While Chevrolet branded its trucks with the C/K series for two-wheel drive and four-wheel drive respectively, GMC used numbers like the 1000 series (equivalent to the C10), 1500 series (equivalent to the C20), and so forth, to differentiate their models.
  • Commercial Focus: GMC trucks were often marketed towards more commercial and heavy-duty applications, which is reflected in their model range and available options. GMC offered models that catered to a wide range of commercial needs, including heavier-duty trucks not directly paralleled in the Chevrolet lineup.

Engine Options

  • V6 Engines: One of the most significant differences was GMC's use of V6 engines during this period. GMC introduced the V6 in 1960, with sizes that ranged significantly, such as the 305 cu in V6, providing more torque for heavy-duty use. These V6 engines were unique to GMC and were known for their durability and power, especially suited for towing and hauling.
  • Power and Performance: While both GMC and Chevrolet offered a range of inline-six and V8 engines, GMC's engine options were typically tuned for higher output, reflecting their focus on commercial and heavy-duty performance. The GMC trucks with their V6 engines, in particular, offered a distinctive performance profile that was different from Chevrolet's more widely used inline-six and small-block V8 engines.

Styling and Features

  • Exterior Design: While sharing the basic design language with Chevrolet, GMC trucks often featured unique grilles, badging, and trim options. These stylistic differences were subtle but allowed GMC to maintain a distinct brand identity.
  • Interior and Options: Inside, GMC trucks could be equipped comparably to Chevrolet models, but there were differences in upholstery options, instrument panels, and trim levels. GMC aimed to offer a slightly more upscale or utilitarian version depending on the model and target audience.

Market Positioning and Brand Identity

  • Brand Identity: GMC has historically positioned itself as offering more rugged and durable vehicles, which was evident in their marketing and product strategy during the 1960-1966 period. This positioning complemented Chevrolet's broader appeal, allowing General Motors to cover more market segments.
  • Commercial and Heavy-Duty Use: The availability of heavier-duty models and the unique V6 engine options underscored GMC's focus on vehicles that were suited for more demanding commercial applications, in contrast to Chevrolet's more general consumer approach.


The GMC trucks from 1960 to 1966 shared much in common with their Chevrolet counterparts due to their shared General Motors heritage. However, GMC distinguished itself through unique engine offerings, specific model differences, and a focus on commercial and heavy-duty applications. These differences allowed GMC to carve out a niche within the truck market, appealing to customers who needed robust performance and reliability for commercial use, while Chevrolet continued to cater to a wide range of personal and light commercial needs.