Dusty Camper Special: 1978 Chevrolet Silverado

We love estate sales here at Barn Finds as there are inevitably some hidden gems that pop up, often from outside the glare of the public eye. And while we may not be talking about Lamborghini-levels of exotica that get discovered, you can reliably count on there to be a good, solid work truck like this dusty 1978 Chevrolet Silverado Camper Special. The Chevy is listed as part of the “Junior Freeman Estate Farm Equipment Auction” in Indiana, and it is said to be a one-owner example with 31,421 miles showing on the clock. Find it here on the Indiana Hi-Bid site with the high bid at $10,300 and thanks to Barn Finds reader Mark S. for the find.

We all know by now the Camper Special wasn’t necessarily always used for the purpose of camping but rather purchased as a workhorse thanks to its heavy-duty hardware that could support a camping lifestyle should you decide to pursue one. It’s far more common to see a truck like this used as it was here, as a farm implement that likely had hay in the bed more than it ever did a camper shell. The low mileage listed isn’t confirmed, and it gets harder to validate as the original eight-foot bed was replaced with the one you see here, and the whole truck was repainted brown. Do my eyes deceive me, or is this Chevy now sporting a short bed?

The interior deflates some of these hopes, however, with a torn bench seat and sagging map pockets on the doors. Now, this type of wear-and-tear is certainly possible in a low-mileage vehicle of this vintage – I swear, the map pockets fall apart if you look at them wrong – but it does raise some questions as to whether the odometer has rolled over. Throw in the respray and the non-original bed and it makes you wonder if the low mileage being authenticated really even matters considering the truck is no longer original in other ways. But at the end of the day, it’s a 4×4 pickup in a desirable spec with just one recorded owner.

The bigger question to me is whether there’s any rust present. We have seen vehicles from Indiana show up with considering body rust in the lower sections of the panels, and if it was used as a farm truck typically is, there’s a good chance it wasn’t protected from foul weather. The good news is the photos of the front end appear to show solid fenders on both sides, and the replacement bed looks to be in good shape. The engine compartment doesn’t show much in the way of surface rust covering the rad support or brake booster, two areas where rust can collect if a vehicle is driven in snow and slop every day. This one could be a sleeper find if there aren’t too many eyeballs on the listing for this Indiana estate sale; do you think it will sell cheaply?


  1. Cooter914 Cooter914 Member

    Like the old Dodge from Pasadena, this old girl could have only gone a couple of miles a day. Those miles were done over 16 hours of back breaking labor in the fields of a working farm. Hauling God knows what in the bed and some giant 2-legged implements in the cab. If that’s the case she has earned every scratch, rip and dent she has many times over. Honest labor does not a beauty queen make. Lol
    And sorry Jeff, she still has all of her original booty in back (still a long bed).

    Like 6
  2. FordGuy1972 FordGuy1972 Member

    Not a bad looking 4×4 but I’m not convinced that it has only 31,000 miles on it. It has had some restoration, but the seat is really torn up, much more than I would have expected for a low-mileage pickup. Plus, the registration shows it was registered up to 2019. That’s over 40 years of use for only 31k miles. I’d like to know why the bed was replaced. Because of an accident? Or maybe terminal rust? The truck looks pretty good now though you’d better like brown, but it does have A/C which most folks want these days. I had a ’78 3/4-ton 4×4, 350 with a stick shift and an 8-foot bed, very similar to this one. A very tough truck but a thirsty one. 60 bids so far shows a lot of interest so I’m thinking this might have a pretty high final bid.

    Like 3
  3. PaulG

    It can’t go cheaply since it’s already priced higher than I’d pay…and the mileage claim is iffy to boot. It’s definitely a long bed with moldings from a later year.

    Like 3
  4. J D

    A patch of putty ( bondo) has fallen off behind the left headlight. I believe the odo has rolled over on this and put together cheap with a hodge -podge of parts and cheap bondo.

    Like 1
  5. JC

    People are nuts… after watching that video, I’d stay far away from this truck. It must have fluids pouring out of it with that catch can and cardboard underneath it. Engine sounds weak… probably 231k. Def NOT 31k…

    Like 1
  6. chrlsful

    ok, came here to say – the cover page shot (pic on today’s page) of this 1 can B found no where I looked (2 or 3 different ways to access) as
    “…fallen off behind the left headlight…” may prove some are seeing a front view of the rig. All I see for that 1 pic w/this write-up is the bluebx w/question mark. The other 3 come thru easy. Also I am not currently a member & the softwear is letting me edit my post for the 1st time in 3, 4 yrs. No changes to my system (sure have been alot to yours) in 3 yrs…

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