454-Equipped: 1975 Chevrolet C20 Pickup

More often than not, classic pickups tend to have a history of having lived a hard life. Therefore, finding an example that has been treated with respect is a nice treat. That is what we appear to have with this 1975 Chevrolet C20 Camper Special, and I have to say a big thank you to Barn Finder local_sheriff for referring this beauty through to us. It is located in Fort Harrison, Montana, and has been listed for sale here on eBay. Bidding has only reached $4,686 in what is a No Reserve auction.

The C20 is finished in Medium Gold (or Yuba Gold) Metallic and presents quite nicely. There are a few minor dings on the body, but given the fact that the paint is said to be largely original, the Pickup presents quite well. There is a small spot of rust on either side of the bed just behind the rear wheel openings, but this appears to be quite minor. Areas like the bottoms of the doors and lower fenders appear to be clean, while the supplied shots of the Chevy’s underside indicate that this is a very solid vehicle. The bed has some surface corrosion, but I suspect that this is from where the camper has been slid on and off over the years because there are none of the usual dings and dents that you would expect to see if the Pickup had spent its life as a true workhorse. The tinted glass all appears to be in nice condition, and while the vehicle is fitted with its original split-rim wheels, the owner is also including a set of later-model one-piece wheels in the sale. What he does say though is that the tires on both sets of wheels are now pretty old, and regardless of which wheels the next owner chooses to run, they should be fitted with new tires.

The interior presentation of the C20 is quite nice, with only a few faults to consider. The original carpet looks to be quite good, although there is some staining in a couple of spots. The dash pad sports some minor cracks, while the headliner is sagging, and will need to be reglued. The vehicle is fitted with an aftermarket seat cover, and this is said to hide some tears in the driver’s side of the seat. I actually quite like the cover and would be inclined to leave it as it is. The factory radio has been replaced with a radio/cassette player, and while this works, the radio tuner can be a bit odd in its operation. The thing about the interior is that there is nothing there that needs urgent attention, so it could conceivably be used and enjoyed as it is.

In keeping with its need to move a camper effortlessly, the C20 comes equipped with a 454ci V8 and Turbo Hydramatic transmission. Heavy-duty power brakes, power steering, and a factory engine oil cooler are also great additions. The Pickup has only accumulated 87,000 original miles on its odometer, but the 454 under the hood is not original. According to the owner, the original unit suffered a rod bearing failure at 68,000 miles, so it was replaced with a fresh 454 sourced from the nice folks at Goodwrench. The owner says that the Pickup runs and drives well, with the engine and transmission both feeling strong. He does suggest that the carburetor may require some attention because it isn’t happy when the vehicle is cold. He also states that the vehicle might require a new tank selector valve because it currently only draws fuel from one of its tanks. Otherwise, it sounds like it just needs the usual TLC that you would expect from a Pickup of this age.

For the person looking for a vehicle capable of towing a camper, or for someone who just wants a tow vehicle for other purposes, this 1975 C20 would seem to be quite a good prospect. It would certainly seem to possess the sort of DNA that would allow it to complete such tasks with ease. It is also in better-than-average condition for its age, so it will be interesting to see what it finally sells for.

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Comments

  1. Howard A Member

    Sheesh, sure is a lot of square body stuff. As the owner/driver of one, I don’t get the attraction. I mean, I like the truck, especially compared to what’s available today, maybe that’s the attraction, but they really aren’t that nice. With a 454, I highly doubt the tanks are full, so another gas gauge, bad color match on the door, and “you’ve got to be kidding” tires, these handle funky enough with radials, much less these bias-ply junk. Another chuckle, choke adjustment, cold blooded, HA! People are so used to F.I. today, they’ve forgotten all about carburetors. Again, I like the truck, but I only bought it for $1400 bucks, I wouldn’t spend much more for one. I think people that buy these, unfamiliar with 1970’s vehicles, get a rude awakening and TLC you will. I’ve replaced everything that hangs off the motor. Starter, fuel pump, water pump, PS pump and carb, so far. While parts are affordable and relatively easy to change, rest assured, as nice as this looks, you’ll be doing some wrenchin’.

    Like 9
    • petemcgee

      Good morning Howard! You need another cup of coffee. I’ve followed this seller for years, they have been on ebay since 1998, with nothing less than stellar feedback. If they say the fuel gauge works, it works. Everything else you mentioned, they said right up front. It needs tires, and the last line of the mechanical description says that old trucks do need wrenching, so adjust your expectations accordingly.
      Sounds like you got a very good deal on your truck. Have a great day!

      Like 10
      • Howard A Member

        Hi pete, can’t drink coffee anymore,( maybe THAT’S the problem) although, in all my trucking years, I drank enough to put Juan Valdez’s kids through college. I’m not ripping on this truck proper, it’s a fantastic example and mine isn’t near as nice( but not bad either) I’m just saying, people that haven’t driven trucks like this, may be in for a big surprise. Again, I repaired my own, the stuff I can anyway( no clutch jobs) but for many, they have to take it somewhere, and that’s where the costs add up.

        Like 4
    • Will Irby

      I agree! I bought a ’77 C20 for $2,000 in ’89, dropped the engine and transmission from my ’77 C20 Suburban into it, and sold it for $1,500 after it spent 10 years attached to my ski boat trailer. It served its purpose, but had the usual GM body cancer, etc. I rebuilt the old Quadrajet a couple of times, and it still ran well when I sold it, but I wouldn’t want to go back there again.

      Like 2
    • local_sheriff

      So what’s wrong with doing some wrenching…? At least GM trucks of this era are designed to be worked on and a well-assorted toolbox with basic hand tools will help a DIY perform 95% of any work needed, even in your own driveway. No need for expensive keys,sockets or diagnostic tools here!

      Like 3
      • Howard A Member

        Nothing really, if the knuckles can still handle it. Today, most people couldn’t tell you the difference between a 14mm and a 9/16″ ( nothing) and very few people do their own wrenching. Like I say, there’s rarely a line at the auto parts counter, but try and get your vehicle in for service ANYWHERE. “We have an opening 2 weeks from next Friday”,,,and $90(?) bucks an hour, kills the fun for these in a hurry.

        Like 1
  2. Rex Kahrs Member

    Maybe I’m on this Elwood Engel/61 Lincoln/slab-side Chrysler C-body kick, but the front fender treatment on this truck is reminding me of that whole design paradigm.

    It’s a squared-off front fender, and the moulding follows that same theme, which Chrysler, Lincoln, and Mercury used from the early 60s through the mid 70s and beyond…the mid-70s Lincolns were totally using that theme up to 1980 at least. Old Elwood sure must have been pleased that the design of the 61 Lincoln inspired car (and truck?) design for twenty years.

    Like 1
  3. vespaholic

    I love the “square body” look as it’s what I remember when I was younger and first getting into cars & trucks.
    I had a 1979 Blazer through college and loved it.
    I’ll be watching this one closely as I have a mostly original 1979 C20 for sale right now on Facebook. Mine has working AC though!
    I was at a Cars & Coffee a couple weeks ago parked next to a McLaren.
    Folks were swarming over my C20 and virtually ignoring the McLaren.
    People dig these trucks!

    Like 6
  4. geomechs geomechs Member

    I guess I shouldn’t be such a critic. In this case I immediately saw that the engine color was wrong (orange until ‘77 when Corporate Blue took over).

    Shouldn’t be too hard to sort out the fuel tank switch problem; the switch valve opened the LH tank when it was energized; it defaulted to the RH tank otherwise. They continued this until someone noticed a drop of gas coming out of the overflow after the engine was shut off. If you were on the LH tank and started/stopped a lot there would be a residual back flow to the RH tank when power was disconnected from the switch valve every time the engine was shut off. If the RH tank was already full then it would dribble the excess on the ground. Some snowflake saw that and threw a major hissy fit and went to the nearest AOC-mentality congressman/congresswoman/congresscan’tseemtodecideperson screaming ‘Evaporative Emissions!!!!!’ The result was the (mandatory) PITA relay in 1980 which kept the power to the switch valve for enough time to allow the return fuel to bleed down before the switch valve defaulted to the RH tank. The PITA relay lasted until ‘81 when the bulletproof positive switch came out. OKAY (deep breath), that’s our object lesson for the day…

    Like 12
    • Howard A Member

      You know, I’ve been running off the left tank, for fear if I switch it, the motor will kill, plus I can barely afford the left tank, much less both and it’s more convenient at stations. Sometimes I smell gas from under the truck, but it never drips anything, or obvious leak. Haven’t crawled under to see closely, and I’m thinking of taking all that off, and just have it draw off the left tank forever. “Say geomechs”, ( like Say Smokey, remember?) think that would be a problem?

      Like 1
      • petemcgee

        Howard, one additional problem with these trucks is that the short rubber fuel line rots out, and it’s on top of the tank(s) where it’s not accessible to be easily replaced. At least that’s been a problem for me.

        Like 1
      • geomechs geomechs Member

        Howard, I’ve seen a number of people take the RH tank out of the system and just use the LH. Just route the supply and return from the LH tank directly to the supply/return of the truck and you’re set. If that was my truck I’d just unplug the switch valve but leave the leads to the gauge intact. Plug off the spigots to the RH tank and carry on.

        Now a dormant fuel tank reminds me of a funny story: There was this wealthy bachelor in Northern CA who travelled extensively in his super behemoth motorhome. When the gas crisis hit back in the 70s, he just spent more time at the campground. He switched one of his fuel tanks over to a sewage holding tank. Well, one morning he gets up early and heads out for his morning jog. He comes around the side of his motorhome and sees the filler cap is off, a siphon hose is in the neck and there is evidence all around of someone being violently ill…

        Like 16
  5. Todd Fitch Staff

    These were everywhere in my youth, and I drove a handful. My favorite was nearly identical to this one, a 454 Trailering Special with the 16″ white steel wheels, dog dish hubcaps, and trailering mirrors. Don’t let the reduced HP numbers fool you – these trucks have prodigious torque. Most cars and trucks of the day needed to go around a corner to squeal a tire, but you roll 10 MPH and drop the hammer on that 454 and it would roast both tires in a straight line. With good tires and replacement stock suspension components these trucks have a nice ride, corner well, and take a lot of abuse. Throw on a carb-style EFI unit and I’d daily-drive it. Add AC and AOD I’d drive it cross-country.

    Like 3
    • Classic Steel

      I agree Todd.
      I have a light brown / yellow cream farm truck 74 3/4 ton sports a NOM 401 BB .
      Its driven mainly on a farm but hits the road sometime and punches hard.

      The original diesel died pre ownership and the engine was swapped.

      Its got great torque and used to have a connect on the bed for a goose neck . It pulled many round bails in past never bogging down on hills.
      Ironically the one tank unit on the switch tank quit also and sets empty too.

      This truck looks nice and decent
      shape for age and the seat cover is avail at LMC trucks.

      Like 1
      • Johnny

        Do away with the electric switch and put in a manual switch. Look at about anything electric control and you have more problems then you do with manual. Like the electronic these new vehicles have now days. A friend of mine was cruising in his new Corvet in heavy rush traiifin. Doing about 80 mph. When everything quit working. He got it off the road and called the dealer about it. They got the car.Took it in and checked it out. The problem was a little wire CAME OFF the third brake light. He sold it. I would much rather set points any day then have a shut down. I had one driving a dump truck loaded with gravel, I,ll stick with a point distributor and day. Ilike this truck and would much rather have it then a new one anyday. I,m not afraid to get my hands dirty.Besides the older vehicles are more dependable. These new one has too many electronics to depend on to many switches and relays.

        Like 3
      • geomechs geomechs Member

        Hi Johnny. I can agree to some extent over electrical versus mechanical switches. But I have to say that these Squarebodies were quite trouble free. I worked for a GM dealer for a number of years and I can safely say that the majority of problems I saw with the tank switch were self inflicted. They worked well. The aforementioned PITA relay that came out in ‘80 gave problems at first but the General got it right. The switch gear that replaced it was very good…

  6. TimM

    Great truck and a really good lesson in duel tank problems!! I like the square body like Todd said there were plenty of them around!!! These were low horse power but there are definitely ways to wake it up if you can afford the fuel!!!

    Like 1
  7. the one

    i used to own this exact truck! never passed a gas station… But it would pull a house off of it’s foundation. My son used it for his Eagle project. During Hurricane Katrina Our local food bank was running low so he collected through donations 2000 pounds of food! This old truck had no problem delivering the goods.
    Interesting side note. At the time, my eldest daughters friends father was in charge of naming hurricanes. Her name, Katrina!! I kid you not…

    Like 5
  8. David G

    Great and clean C20. Only drawback would be the lack of A/C. I have never had any issues with the fuel tank switch on my ’78 GMC C35 pickup. Fuel gauge works accurately on both tanks, also. These 454s are awesome. Only way to go in a 3/4 or 1 ton pickup.

    • vesoaholic

      @ David G.
      I have a 1979 C20 454 w/ AC on FaceBook right now if you are looking.
      Extra nice!!

      • David G

        @vesoaholic,
        I already have a ’78 GMC C35 with a 454 and A/C, but thanks for the heads up. Will let a friend know about your ad.

        Like 1
  9. vespaholic

    @David G That would be great. Thanks

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