402 Big-Block V8! 1981 GMC Sierra 1500

The Sierra is GMC’s version of the Chevrolet Silverado full-size pick-up. From 1960-02, it was part of a line of trucks known as the C/K series (C=2-wheel drive, K=4-wheel drive). Their job was to compete against the Ford F-Series and Dodge D Series (aka Ram). This 1981 edition has a recently rebuilt big-block V8 and was professionally repainted, although there is some damage behind the driver’s side rear wheel. It looks like a truck that was destined for the drag strip and still might be with the NOS set-up this seller sends along with the deal. Located in Blaine, Ohio and available here on Barn Finds Classifieds, the asking price appears to be $20,500 although a typo is present.

Third-generation C/Ks were introduced for the 1973 model year. Called the “Rounded Line” by General Motors, these trucks were growing in popularity with folks wanting to use them as personal vehicles, so cab features and options became more like GM’s sedans. This generation would be the longest-produced version of the C/K model line, running through 1991. The Sierra 1500 is GMC’s full-size pickup, positioned above the midsize Canyon and below the Sierra 2500 and 3500 heavy-duty trucks.

This 1500 has a 402 cubic-inch V8 under the hood, commonly marketed as the SS 396 motor in the early 1970s. Fitted with a 4-barrel Holley carburetor, this powerplant has just 1,000 miles on it. Accompanied by a TH-350 automatic transmission, this truck has a 9-inch Ford rear end with 4.11 gears. It’s said to run well and has a NOS set-up the seller says has never been used. The overall pickup has less than 58,000 miles.

The body and red paint look good, although an area on the left rear quarter panel is going to need patching, and that area resprayed. The interior looks to be in terrific condition with several custom touches in terms of materials used and a leather-wrapped dash with working gauges. If you were looking for a hot truck for show duty, this might just be the one with a bit of work.


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  1. Howard A Member

    No comments on this squarebody? ( sound of air hissing from deflating balloon) Not sure about the dragstrip, and a bit overkill for stoplight express but a really nice truck, I’d love to have those seats in mine, hey, you know something, maybe I will. It’s by far the worst part of these vintage trucks, is the seat. But, as strange as it may seem, in 1981, trucks were actually meant to haul bricks, rocks, lumber, and the occupants usually were covered with filth. A plastic bench seat worked fine. It wasn’t until these things turned into grocery getters and food delivery for the elderly, cushiness was the rule, not what it could haul. I get a kick out of that Wheeler Dealer guy, Mike, I think. He buys a Ram pickup with a Viper motor, and his British wit was hilarious. He just couldn’t understand the American mindset of having a pickup truck that has 600hp and burns rubber, he said, “Blast, how fast do you Yanks have to get to the jobsite?”

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