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Fresh 350: 1978 Chevrolet K20 Silverado Camper Special

Finding an accomplished tow vehicle that can also take you deep into the wilderness can be challenging, but that is what awaits the buyer of this 1978 Chevrolet K20 Silverado Camper Special. Its presentation is quite tidy for a vehicle of this type and age, but its solid nature would make it a satisfying restoration project. It is mechanically sound, and with a fresh 350ci V8 under the hood and four-wheel drive, it should easily take its occupants into some pretty remote territory. Located in Chase, Michigan, you will find the K20 listed for sale here on Barn Finds Classifieds. It has plenty to offer its next owner with a sale price of $20,000.

The Silverado would have turned heads when new in its combination of Cordova Brown and Cream. The paint shows its age, and there is evidence of corrosion across the vehicle. Relatively little of this has progressed to penetrating rust, and the next owner should be able to address these issues utilizing patches rather than resorting to panel replacement. For a workhorse of this age, the panels and bed are remarkably straight and free from any evidence of abuse. There are some holes in the bed where a previous owner fitted a fifth-wheel hitch, which leaves the buyer with a decision to make. Installing another hitch would be straightforward, although patching the holes should prove pretty easy. The tinted glass shows no signs of damage, and the chrome wheels add to this classic’s sense of presence. Returning this Silverado to its former glory should be a satisfying process for its new owner.

One aspect of this K20 that requires little attention is its interior. Hiding under the slipcover is new seat upholstery, with the seller making the wise decision of selecting cloth that should offer greater comfort on warm days than the original vinyl. The dash pad sports a crack, but the seller has concealed this under a cover that should prevent further deterioration. The carpet looks excellent for a vehicle of this type, and the owner recently installed new door trims, new window seals, and a console. There are a few smaller tasks for the buyer to tackle. The factory air conditioning doesn’t blow cold, and the radio/cassette player doesn’t function. Apart from those minor flaws, this interior needs nothing. The original owner ticked a few of the more desirable boxes on the Order Form because, apart from A/C, it features cruise control, a tilt wheel, a factory tachometer, and intermittent wipers.

The seller is this classic’s third owner, with the K20 demonstrating a long-term ownership history. When it was new, its drivetrain included a 400ci V8, a three-speed automatic transmission, a dual-range transfer case, power steering, and heavy-duty power front disc brakes. The 400 would have produced 185hp and 300 ft/lbs of torque, making it easy to understand why a previous owner fitted a fifth-wheel hitch. The seller has improved its performance potential by swapping the original V8 for a 350ci Crate Motor with a 4-Barrel Edelbrock carburetor, headers, and a dual Flowmaster exhaust. With the motor breathing efficiently, it should offer the buyer plenty of performance under their right foot. They elected to rebuild the original transmission and fit a new starter, with all work performed by a professional. Since completing these tasks, this pickup has clocked a mere 3,000 miles. They say the K20 runs and drives well, with the four-wheel-drive system, power steering, and brakes working as they should. The seller indicates that the sweet little small-block sounds fantastic breathing through its dual exhaust, which is a claim I find easy to believe. It is a turnkey proposition awaiting some summer fun.

While it would benefit from a cosmetic refresh, this 1978 K20 Silverado Camper Special has no urgent needs. The buyer could immediately hit the road for some fine weather fun and attack it as a restoration project once summer ends. Its rust issues are limited, making it an ideal candidate for someone considering a DIY approach. The next owner could install a new fifth-wheel hitch, and the small-block under the hood should allow it to tow a decent load without raising a sweat. With classic pickups continuing to grow in popularity and value, this K20 could easily command a value of $30,000 with its rust addressed and a fresh coat of paint. That makes it worth a closer look.


  1. FordGuy1972 FordGuy1972 Member

    I had the exact same truck quite a while back; ’78 K20, same color, a 350 4wd though with a 4 speed. I used it mostly for hunting and snowmobiling to Northern Maine. It was a very tough truck, good in the snow and mud with my only complaint being that it drank copious amounts of fuel. This ’78 K20 appears to be a good pickup though I think $20k for a truck needing rust work and paint is a little steep. For that money, the A/C should be working as well. Still, what do I know.

    Like 18
  2. john

    I kinda like the GMT800 wheels on a squarebody. price seems a bit steep for what it is, but there’s a butt for every seat and a wallet for every project.

    Like 3
  3. geomechs geomechs Member

    This was a popular color combo back in the day. Dooey Brown and Calf Scour Yellow. We ordered in a diesel pickup in that color scheme. I liked it so when I ordered my new 4×4 I didn’t hesitate. Trouble was, within a year, brown and neutral was almost as popular for a truck as black was for a Trans Am.

    OK, this truck. I don’t blame the guy for taking out the 400 and putting in a 350; the 400 in a 4×4 was tempramental as it was. But why the devil does everyone think they need headers? They don’t last and they turn up the engine bay temperature to somewhere within spitting distance of nuclear meltdown. You don’t see the benefit of headers until you’re up to 5K+ rpm with WOT throttle and even then you won’t see much unless it’s on a graph on the dyno. The bone stock 400 has got enough power to blow the chain right out through the bottom of the 203 transfer case as it is. Obviously the stock A-C compressor was either damaged or they lost all the mounts during the installation. If I came across this truck I would want all the stock A-C mounts and the original manifolds. Even the original Quadrajet; I’m not afraid of those. Otherwise the truck brings back a lot of memories from days gone by…

    Like 1

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