454 V8 and 4-Speed: 1982 GMC High Sierra 3500

Pickups may be the hottest market segment out there right now in the collector world. We all saw it sneaking up on us over the last few years and then all of a sudden, it’s here. Sort of like winter in the upper-Midwest (I’m not bitter for still living here).. This 1982 GMC can be found in Dubuque, Iowa and it’s posted on Craigslist with an asking price of $4,500.

I have evolved into liking pickups much more than I ever thought I would but I can’t think of how I would use a one-ton pickup with dual wheels. I know, it’s made for towing, and this one even has a fifth-wheel setup for towing a fifth-wheel trailer. Maybe pulling a car trailer so during my travels I could deliver and/or pick up a car and make some money on the side. It sounds easy but it’s probably much harder to do that than it sounds.

This big rig looks great to me, I don’t really see a flaw in it other than maybe some faded paint. Are those some sort of stickers or decals on the sides of the box? I would try to lose those asap. The tires are pretty new, to the tune of $1,400, and you can see the topper which is always handy to have. Being a High Sierra this is one step below the top Sierra Classic.

I’m somewhat surprised to not see power windows, but it is a truck and a 36-year old one at that. Still, for a higher trim level it would have been nice. It’s hard to really see what’s going on inside, it looks.. interesting. Are the seats ripped and worn or is that just the sun playing tricks? The carpet looks pretty bad and the dash looks faded and red? NADA lists an average retail value of $12,650 but that can’t be right with the owner asking $4,500 for this example. If it is, this is a flipper’s dream. Their low retail value is $5,800.

This is GM’s 454 cubic-inch V8, what a monster. It should have 230 hp and 360 lb-ft of torque. With 118,000 miles I’m assuming that it’s a fine runner but oddly there isn’t one word about the running condition, just the condition of the body. A diesel would be nice for both towing power and MPG but a 454 with a 4-speed would make for an interesting pickup. What are your thoughts on this one? It seems like a good deal to me!

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  1. Howard A

    Nice truck! Of course I’d be attracted to it, it’s my truck on the inside, but that’s about where the similarity ends. While $4,500 is still a chunk of change to me, if you’re looking for small time hauling or camper, without going the new $50 grand for a dually today route, can’t go wrong here. This setup is thirsty, but will haul the mail. During the summer here in Colorado, LOTS of tourists. Gone are the behemoth motorhomes, and EVERYBODY today has a dually pulling a gooseneck trailer, and for good reason. People found out these big motorhomes don’t do well at the Sonic drive in.

    • jdjonesdr

      I’ve seen some incredible goose neck trailers for sale. A little more cramped than the motorhomes, but extremely well organized. I think that’s the road I would take as well.

  2. stillrunners

    Is it gone yet ?

    • Dean

      I’m surprised it hasn’t sold.

  3. chrlsful

    “…A diesel would be nice for both towing power and MPG but a 454 with a 4-speed would make for an interesting pickup. What are your thoughts on this one?”
    the same, he/she traded in 4 a diesel’s performance/economy.
    Still like it: wheels, bed cover, 5th wheel, color, yr, etc. but if owned by a friend, not me…

    • Danno

      I recall the consumer-level Chev diesels of this era to be not so great? I think the gas big-block was the durable choice of the time.

  4. CanuckCarGuy

    I would buy it, for no other reason than to oblige myself to the RV I’ve always wanted.

  5. Maynard Reed Jr

    Nice truck. Towing with that big block engine is a expensive endeavor. The one I had got 6 mpg on a good day

  6. grant

    NADA prices notwithstanding most people aren’t going to see this as a collector vehicle but as an honest truck. The price he’s asking is about right for a solid old 1 ton, assuming it’s as solid as it looks

  7. Lroy

    Nice truck, looks like it was ridden hard but never put up wet. Cant keep paint that nice after all these years without trying. Reclear coat the hood get rid of those stickers. 454 love to breathe, efi and headers will go a long way to mpg. By all mean keep working this truck.

  8. Gay Car Nut

    That’s my idea of a work truck. I’ve always loved dually trucks, trucks you can tow a 5th wheeler trailer with, etc.


    Awesome!! I would jank out that 454 rebuild it with 350-400 HP, put at least a 5 speed manual in it. They don’t make pick up trucks with manual transmissions any more.

  10. Wrong Way

    My thoughts are get rid of that topper nothing looks worse or clashes more than brown and black! Minor issue, but I can’t help myself commenting on it! If I were to stoop so low as to buy a GM it would definitely be a GMC! Heavier frame than a Chevy!

    • Howard A

      Is that true, heavier frame? I didn’t think so, and by this time, GMC was just a badge engineered Chevy, or vice-versa, geomechs???

      • Wrong Way

        Not to argue with you, but that’s what I have always been told by pretty good sources

      • Rd

        Early fifties GMC had a bigger n better 6 than Dada Chevies

    • Scotty Gilbertson Scotty Gilbertson Staff

      Wrong Way, that reminds me of an old George Gobel line, “I feel like the world’s a tuxedo and I’m a pair of brown shoes…”. Ha.

      • Wrong way


    • David Ulrey

      In days of old a GMC was built more heavy duty than a Chevrolet pickup but unfortunately for a segment of the buying public it hasn’t been that way for several decades.

  11. Bill569

    I love this truck! I’m sure at least one repaint has occurred. The “High Sierra” and “Camper Special” emblems were never held on with screws. Might be worth the road trip from Minneapolis!

    • Scotty Gilbertson Scotty Gilbertson Staff

      Bill, good eye, I should have mentioned that. It’s not exactly concours quality the way those badges were put on, or back on. I don’t know what the heck I would use that truck for, it’s tempting, though. I sure don’t need a one-ton with a 454 and duallys to haul a handful of minibikes around.

      • Bill569

        Agreed. Not super practical but cool as hell!

        I’m pretty sure you write from Minnesota….is it just me or do all the cool old rigs that pop up that haven’t been riddled with rust, are just a little ways out of reach….

        Oh well! 😊

  12. 4 Barrel

    It is about time for an overhaul on this 454.

  13. PatrickM

    Nice rig. But, 454 c.i. is a killer. Drinks gas like crazy. This will tow almost anything and get it there in fine fashion. But, this whole set up is a financial nightmare. Not only gas, but insurance, too

  14. theGasHole

    This is priced about right. I just recently had a 78 GMC Camper Special, bit nicer shape than this, with the 454ci but a non-dually that I sold for $4,200.
    In my experience NADA is always very optimistic when it comes to their valuation.


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