Entry Level Square Body: 1984 Chevrolet Silverado

While I usually like to write about sports cars and prewar Fords, I do have a special place in my black little heart for trucks.  While I guess you could say I am a Ford truck man, having two of them, I cannot deny that third generation Chevrolet trucks are good looking, dependable, easy to work on, and easy on the eyes.  When I found this 1984 Chevrolet Silverado on craigslist in Cleveland, Tennessee, it had a few attributes that made a write up a necessity.  First off, it is a 1984 model with an automatic, so it has an overdrive for relaxed cruising speeds.  Second, it is a short bed with a Silverado trim package, which was one of the nicest trucks you could order.  Third, the seller claims that it has no rust and that it runs and drives great.  Finally, the price is just $2400.  It isn’t in mint condition, but it may be worth a look.

As usual, this ad is short on details and long on guessing.  Every written detail that we know is covered in the first paragraph, so whatever else we find out must be gleaned from the pictures.  As you can see from the photo above, the body looks to be straight and there is no rust evident.  The truck could use a thorough cleaning, but the paint may buff out with some work.  The styled steel wheels still have the trim rings and center caps, and the factory bed rails look to be in good condition.  The truck is even equipped with a set of towing mirrors, which may have been standard with the Silverado package.

In the back we see the ubiquitous chrome step bumper that nearly every eighties pickup had a variation of.  We also see that an aftermarket tailgate protector has been added.  The chrome below the rear window looks to have a few minor dings in it, but the rear window is a slider.  If the air conditioning is out, then you will really appreciate this feature.  Been there.  Done that.  A lot.

The biggest fault I have found is this minor shunt in the drivers front part of the truck.  The bumper is slightly bent inwards, which dented the fender.  Unbelievably, the marker light didn’t break.  Some work could probably get this area to the point it is not noticeable.  If not, there are tons of these trucks in the junkyards of America, and the aftermarket offers nearly every part as well.

Under the hood, we have no idea whether this truck is equipped with a 305 or 350 cubic inch V-8.  It does look like it has been modified a bit, with an aftermarket intake manifold, an Edelbrock carburetor, and a set of headers.  Other than that, everything else looks to be stock.  The air conditioning system is still intact, but the belt is off.

On the other side, we see what looks to be the original A/C compressor.  Unless there are problems elsewhere in the system, and there usually always are, then this might not be too expensive to get working again.  Nothing is finer than GM air conditioning systems from the 1980s, and they are usually pretty robust.  Otherwise, we see that this truck is also equipped with power steering and power brakes.  Overall, combined with the overdrive automatic, you have a very easy to live with truck here.

I wish I could tell you more, but the lack of detail in the ad is frustrating.  While I expect the worst inside, that is just speculation.  Many Craigslist ads appear to be written by Calvin Coolidge, and they have pictures taken from the space station.  At night.  In the rain.  Even if this truck is a train wreck inside, there is no part you cannot get for these pickups.  If it were black, I would be at the bank in the morning getting some cash, but the brown and tan color scheme is not very thrilling.  What is thrilling is the price and body condition.  A running, driving, rust free Silverado short bed is a nice truck, and this one is at a price a starting collector can afford.

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Comments

  1. Greg

    Garbage. you guy put lipstick on pigs like nobody else

    • Mark

      If ya ain’t got nuthin nice to say… For me, I always thought that this generation of trucks will always be timeless.

      1
    • David Ulrey

      Are you nuts?????

  2. jw454

    Rust free square bodies are gone around my area. This would be about a 4.5 to 5K dollar truck here in west central Ohio.

  3. geomechs Member

    I like what I see. Lots of trucks just like this one went through the dealership I worked for. The engine is a transplant, I’m sure. The original was likely a 305. I can’t figure out why so many people want to install headers in one of these. Deep-fried starters, super heated engine bay, and almost no noticeable increase in power (unless the engine is full race). You can get a lot of performance with a set of duals, and flip the crankshaft timing sprocket over.

    The R-4 compressor is easy to service. It needs a clutch and pulley. And that’s if it isn’t seized. I strongly advise running R-12 substitute and it will be colder than the ex-wife’s side of the bed.

    1
    • John

      Haha you have a lot of experience – what year early Silverados are better and which would you avoid? Thanks.

      • geomechs Member

        Hi John. Chevy really hit a home run with the square bodies. It’s hard to go wrong with any of them although there were some that were a little better. If I had to pick a favorite the ’78/’79 would be the best. GM got the rust control better in the rear fenders. 1977 was a really good truck; performance and economy were pretty good despite the EPA. 1978 was more of the same except that 4×4’s benefited from a set of brace rods between the lower bellhousing and the transfer case. Those prevented cracking of the transmission’s main case. 1980 was OK at first but emission controls started to get OUT of control. There was a clutch in the torque converter that sometimes wouldn’t let go while stopped at places such as a red light. The fuel tank switcher absolutely sucked slough water with its delay relay. Full time 4×4 was no longer available. For the first part of the production year the NP 205 transfer case was still used then someone chintzed out and the aluminum-housed 208 became the way to go. Axle ratios rivaled police intercepters so if you wanted to tow an RV, you needed a steady downhill with a tailwind. GM stuck its foot in it with some of its paint jobs. Some of them blew off with the first trip through the car wash; they only got worse in ’81. Other than the paint, the ’81 models weren’t all that bad. Positive fuel tank switcher that really worked. Badly retarded valve timing, thus, the flipping over of the crankshaft sprocket. Lift the metering rods in the carburetor up (1 1/2) turns and advance the timing until you’re just under the detonation level (that works on everything except ESC which you may be tempted to disable–I can tell you an interesting story about a Camaro with ESC). From that point on, GM steadily improved its trucks until they got as good (albeit not quite as tough or attractive) as the ’78-’79 models. But there you have it: the GM truck gospel according to Geo. Enjoy….

        1
  4. Todd Zuercher

    Was Calvin Coolidge a poor writer?

    • MSG Bob

      Taking your post seriously – He was known as “Silent Cal” for a reason.

  5. Daleone3

    As the owner of a low mileage 86 short bed 2wd squrebody I can tell you these are the next generation to take off. I bought mine for 11k at Carlisle after an hour of grinding down the guy from 15k. Crate 350, 67k miles and a Carolina truck with no rust ever and one repaint I have been offered 16k for mine a couple years ago and would ask 18k if I wanted to move it. With an LMC catalog and some labor this could be a nice build for low entry point. As someone once told me “there is an ass for every seat “ and this will sell. A rust free beater in Boston would pull 5k all day. Not everyone has the vision for getting one of these done. Unless you want to open your checkbook for 16-20k this could be a decent buy.

  6. JimmyJ Member

    My buddy’s has a mint restored cab rotisserie resto and painted but can’t find a short bed he’s real stubborn cuz it has to be fleet side and there impossible to find.
    Don’t ask why he did the cab with no box but a rough box out here in British Columbia Canada is $1500 for a POS
    If anybody knows where a good one is please let me know

    • Tyler

      There are some out there. I recently sold a rust free short fleet box from a 87 that I had gotten in a deal with some other parts.

  7. JimmyJ Member

    BTW daleone3 is right these squarebodies are the next hot item
    Huge following….

    1
  8. Tyler

    As stated, the ad is low in details, but if what is there is correct, this is a really good price on this truck. Doesn’t say, but by 84, power windows & door locks were generally standard on a Silverado. Engine is most likely a replacement as the original would have been blue. I just did an AC repair on my 86 this past summer, a new compressor & dryer is less than $200. Using r134 gets the temp down to 37 degrees, plenty cool for me.

    The most beautiful thing about the 73-87 square bodies is they are a piece of cake to swap a late model LS engine into. Generally, if you buy a wrecked donor, can actually do the complete swap for less than the cost of a new small block crate engine. And gets 1/3 or better mileage.

    If I didn’t have so many projects going on already, I’d be seriously interested in this truck. It would fit in well with the 83 K10 I’m working on.

  9. Tyler

    I’ve put about 10k miles on this 85 Sierra since bringing it back from a decade long slumber. Somebody else took a rust free truck apart to restore, & lost interest half way through. Has a 5.3 from a 04 Tahoe.

    • Tyler

      The 5.3 with the 3.42 rear gear, gets mid 20s gas mileage while cruising effortlessly at 70-75.

    • carsofchaos

      Nice work man! It looks awesome!

  10. Tyler

    I picked up this 86 Silverado survivor with a bad transmission at an auction last year, has only the smallest amount of rust in each cab corner. Has the original 305 which still runs strong for almost 150k miles, but truck was optioned with a th350 instead of the 700r4 for some reason. 32 year old truck, & everything still works the way it is supposed too, just needs new weather stripping.

  11. cudaman

    1981 100% with worn paint. Cheyenne model. High one owner miles. For sale on CL https://valdosta.craigslist.org/cto/d/1981-chevy-cheyenne-short-bed/6331887033.html.

  12. 68 custom

    seems like the late 80s models did not rust out as bad as the early ones, and yes I agree these are the next hot thing. looks like a good start but the gap between the cab and the bed seems to big? the motor might be a decent early 70 400/350 but the LS swap is the way to go!

  13. Stu

    I ordered a new 1984 Scottsdale K20, 350-4bbl, 4-spd standard ($12,600 including tax). I had “Rusty Jones” rust preventative applied during the first week of ownership (You may know the story about “Rusty Jones”). I intended to purchase a slide-in camper but this truck had no power whatsoever. The useless creeper gear actually made it a 3-speed (In a typical standard transmission, first gear in 4L would suffice). During the second month or ownership, the truck developed a clunk in the lower end which turned out to be the wrong crankshaft bearings from the factory (The original dealership couldn’t find a problem after 3 visits and said that the noise was normal). The body started rusting out after the first two years. This was my last Chevy pickup.

  14. James Horner

    I like it. I too am more of a Ford truck guy at least for the 60s to 1980s. But I like all the big 3 trucks and this is a prime example of a great driver. For the price one could just drive it as it is and work on it piece by piece. If I wasn’t in the middle of a Harley build I would seriously consider buying this. Good luck finding any truck from the 80s here in Buffalo N.Y.

  15. Ryan

    The Square Body is the new Classic. Real work horse. Takes a beating and looks good when doing it. New trucks are made of Reynolds Wrap. Only good for grocery shopping and a 5th wheel pull. But the older square body trucks are the way to go!

  16. Maestro1

    I would try the Seller at $2000. even or less, not knowing what has to be done mechanically. But Jeff is right: It could be a very good value and a great place to get into the Hobby. You can also use it and drive it. I know how good these trucks were. I own one.

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