It is undeniable how incredibly popular the Chevrolet C-series pickup trucks have become in the last ten years. The line was launched in the fall of 1959 for the 1960 model year, as was common practice by the manufacturers. The C/K series actually included a wide range of vehicles, from two-wheel drive light pickups to medium and heavy-duty trucks. Also included in this series were the Suburbans that would eventually become known as full-sized SUVs.
Despite the variety of vehicles in the C-series lineup, most enthusiasts associate the C-series with the light pickups. Of these, the most curious and in demand is the first generation C10 – primarily the 1964-1966 models.
The first year C10/C20 pickup was designed with several new features to make the GM trucks more driver-friendly. The goal was to make the trucks drive more like automobiles. To accomplish this, GM developed a drop-center ladder frame to lower the truck’s cab. A new independent torsion bar front suspension and a trailing arm rear coil suspension added to the “car-like” ride.
These were available in a smooth “Fleetside” or a fendered “Stepside” version in Chevrolet models. GMC designated them “Wide-side” and “Fenderside.” Both were available in long and short bed versions.
Spotters can quickly identify the 1960 C10/C20 pickups by the hood. Two very pronounced “nostrils,” one on the left and one on the right were new features. These were officially called nacelles as the space age was hitting high appeal in the public. Nacelles are a streamlined enclosures on an aircraft or spacecraft for housing an engine.
The 1960 nacelles were divided into three sections with a turn signal blinker in the middle section. The company name “Chevrolet” was stamped into the bottom of the slatted grille.
In 1961, the “Chevrolet” stamping moved to the middle of the grille and the nacelles adopted horizontal dividers. These are the only exterior differences from the earlier model.
This was the last year of the front torsion bar suspension. GM designers also moved away from the huge hood nostrils in favor of a more conventional rounded and flat hood. The “Chevrolet” stamping moved back to the bottom of the grille. Also gone was the four-eyed look in favor of single headlights with wide-eyed bezels on each side.
A coil-spring front suspension debuted in the C10s in 1963, with a redesigned front grille and circular front headlight bezels.
This year marked a significant change in the body style of the pickup by eliminating the wrap-around windshield of the previous models. Another grille redesign was incorporated with square headlight bezels, and several interior changes were made to the truck.
The big changes for 1965 included a larger V8 engine option (327ci) with optional air conditioning. As far as visual indicators go, the emblem was moved from the front to the cowl panel on the side of the truck with a redesigned side-by-side rectangle emblem.
In preparation for the second-generation redesign, very little changed in the 1966 model year. The only “tell-tale” model-year indicators are the emblem change back to a rectangular bowtie with the Chevrolet name on the bottom, and the emblem moved to the side fender.
We hope this simple spotter’s guide helps you to identify these popular trucks. With any luck, you will look like an expert to dazzle and amaze your friends.