Muscle Pickup: 1969 Chevrolet C20

120816 Barn Finds - 1969 Chevrolet C20 - 1

Scotty GilbertsonBy Scotty Gilbertson

Thanks to Pat L. for tracking down this 1969 Chevrolet C20. This options-heavy Custom Camper pickup is listed on Hemmings with an asking price of $6,900 and that price is negotiable. If you live in Ottertail, Minnesota you’re in luck, that’s where this one is located. The seller calls this one a “muscle pickup” because of its 396 V8 engine.

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This Chevy C20 is a 3/4-ton Custom Camper pickup and it’s probably the minimum that you would want if you’re planning on sliding a big camper in the box. We had a 1969 Ford F-250 Camper Special with a big Winnebago slide-in camper and it probably should have been a one-ton, with dual wheels in the rear. That camper was probably too heavy for that 3/4-ton pickup. I don’t know if this truck has ever held a camper but it’s got a bigger engine than our Ford had. This one has a 396, ours had a 360.

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This almost looks like a K20 to me, a 4×4, but it isn’t. This pickup has been sitting for 25 years so it’ll have to be gone through. Hagerty lists a 1969 Chevy C20 such as this one as being valued at $4,500 in #4 “fair” condition and $9,100 in #3 “good” condition. This example may be somewhere in-between those two categories. But, you can see that it needs work, or it does if you’d want it to look like new again. This is a second-generation Chevy C-series truck made from 1967 to 1972 and they had the nickname “Action Line”.

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The interior looks pretty good but there are things that need to be fixed here, too. There’s no word on the AC working and I’d be 99% confident in saying that it isn’t working. That will be the last of your worries anyway, there’s a lot of work to do on this pickup before you’ll be needing that AC. This truck was made in Freemont, California and the seller says that it’s a western truck, but it’s still showing some rust-through spots that will need your help.

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Here’s that 396 cubic-inch V8. The seller says that it runs good and it has factory AC, quite a luxury for a pickup in the late-1960s. I’m not sure if this is a two-barrel or a four-barrel carb under that rusty air cleaner housing. I’m assuming that it’s a two-barrel carb which should put the horsepower in the 265 range and I believe that the 396 was only available in Chevy pickups in 1968 and 1969. In 1970, the 396 was enlarged to be a 402 cubic inch. The seller says that this engine runs good but any one of us would want to go through the usual routine on this truck to get it back in shape again. What do you think about this “muscle pickup”? It looks fairly solid but there will be a laundry list of things to go through before you’re daily-driving this one, or muscling those Ford pickup drivers!

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Comments

  1. Howard A Member

    You know, I look at this and think, almost $7g’s for something as basic as a Chevy pickup. 1st thing to come out would be that boat anchor of a motor.( while the 396 was an awesome motor, just not needed today) Pretty sure that is a 4 barrel, and somebody spec’d this truck out to pull something. I’m sure gas mileage is in gallons/mile with this. Pickups were just starting to get fancy, and GM led the way. Sorry, as good an example as this is, I could never justify paying this much ( or half this much) for this truck. They weren’t THAT nice.

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    • Steve

      Please elaborate on why a 396 is a “boat anchor”… IMO, “boat anchor” big blocks didn’t arrive until the early/ mid 70’s with the introduction of “peanut port” smog heads and compression ratio in the 8:1 range. I have a 70 “Longhorn” with a 400 big block. Not exactly a boat anchor in my opinion. I has a dana 60 rear with 4.10’s and a posi. It will boil the tires in the first two gears…Yes, a modern LS engine gets better mileage and makes as much power, but how about “torque”…A small block 350 would return better mileage, but if the truck were to be used as a tow vehicle, the big block is there for a reason. BTW, that is in fact a 4 barrel carb. Quadrajet to be exact.

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    • Howard A Member

      Oh, for crying out loud. This P A R T I C U L A R motor is a boat anchor. You want to spend $7g’s on the truck, and then put another $5g’s into this particular motor, just to have an inefficient, heavy, gas hog, go ahead. When gas was .35 cents a gallon in 1969, no problem, put ‘er to the floor, Louie! I think people forget how much gas these use, and it’s just not necessary today. If you must have a V-8, a small block should more than suffice. Personally, I’d want a small block. The 396 , as I said in my deleted comment, was an awesome motor, just not in a pickup. Sheesh.

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      • Fred

        The person buying this truck isn’t going to be interested in the gas mileage, they will appreciate it for what it is: A stylish truck with old school power.

        Bolt on some headers and it will be a rocket.

        Don’t buy it if you don’t like it

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      • MR

        I think that the magic of this truck IS the big block 396. A big block with A/C in a truck – the A/C is the icing on the cake. Plus, it is painted in a non-typical hue (for ’69). I LOT of greens and two tones that year, and this one is neither. Look a the mirrors – not the big camper style we expect to see on a truck with a “Custom Camper” emblem on the side. Probably NOT used for what is was intended for. Dual exhausts were standard with a big block. A great truck – great color, subtle chrome, big block, and a/c! If you buy for below the asking price, or the asking price, it will continue to appreciate. This truck isn’t about efficiency – it’s about simple big block fun!

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      • Joey Enlowe

        Mild cam, headers, well matched dual plane intake and it will anchor your spine to the seat back

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    • Dave Wright

      I too would prefer a good small block but nobody here buys this truck for fuel economy. Even if it is driven daily, it won’t be driven far. If mileage was a concern this forum would not exist…….we would all be driving something small, new and oriental. This truck is owned for fun and nostalgia like the majority of the vehicles we talk about……….this one would be great as is.

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    • Thomas H.

      I grew up driving one of these as a farm truck. I’d have to agree that the 396 is a complete waste in these trucks. Ours was the same year/model with a 292 straight 6, 4 speed with granny on the floor and a hefty .456 gears in the back. That truck wouldn’t go over 75 mph down hill but it would tow anything you put behind it. We hauled hay with it for years and that little 292 was indestructible.

      As for the 396, if you want to yank that motor and go through it top to bottom, then drop it in a different project car, it would make a fantastic toy. As any kind of daily use driver, it’s just a gas guzzling ego stroker.

      Also, to the guy that mentioned the paint color: hate to break it to ya but this particular shade of purple/burgundy was used in excess during the 67-69 run of these trucks. We had a ’67 this color with the 302/powerglide package. My neighbor had a ’68 this color (lots of jokes were told) and I see these trucks all over the Midwest with the same color. This and that bright Chevy Orange are everywhere!

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  2. Rock On

    Wheather you need a 396 or you want a 396 in a pick up can be debated all day long. I would take this over a six cylinder every time.

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  3. Blyndgesser

    By the mid ’70s they were offering a 454 even in the lighter duty C10. That would be a fun truck. This, on the other hand, is just a dated-but-handsome workhorse (C20, long bed, all torque and no horsepower). Fit for hauling, but not for hauling a**.

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  4. geomechs

    Nice truck all around. There were a few ’69 models out west that sported the 396 motor but I can think of maybe (1) that had factory A-C. They weren’t great in economy but weren’t that bad either. Most reports I got back were actually similar to the 350. Of course there were those who couldn’t keep their foot out of the radiator. The advent of the 402 was when things started to slip, with lean fuel mixtures and retarded advance curves. A little tweaking (UAM) here and there got them working just fine. It wasn’t an unrealistic expectation to see these eventually approach the mid-teens for fuel economy….

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  5. boxdin

    Some of these had a 8.5 ft bed instead of 8 foot. I don’t see the seam on this one but the pics aren’t that good either.

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    • geomechs

      Hi Boxdin. The super long beds (Fleetsides) were called ‘Longhorns.’ I always thought they were a nine-foot. The power company always ran 1-ton pickups with 9-foot stepside beds. 292’s, some 283’s, and later, 307’s (now that’s your real boat anchor, Howard), which quickly gave way to 350’s across the board.

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      • 70kingswood

        the 307 was a much better engine that the 305 with a better rod lenght/bore/to stroke ratio, 305 tended to detonate in that configuration the 307s had a much better rod lenght/bore stroke ratio and could make a lot of power if you had deep pockets. to build an albtross. better to spend the money on a small journell 327.point being the 307 was never the slug it was made out to be. build a 307 and a 283 idetically and the 307 will produce more power.

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  6. JW

    I would love this truck for minimal use as in Lowes / Home Depot / Menards lumber runs, not a Daily Driver.

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  7. Steve

    I have a 70 Longhorn with a 400/400/ 4.10 posi Dana 60. The bed is in fact 8.5 ft. This truck is not a Longhorn.

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    • geomechs

      I stand corrected. I always thought they were a 9 ft. But I never owned one. Worked on a few but never had call to measure them. That 400/400 setup was a good match although my first case of automatic transmission failure due to electrolysis happened on such a combo.

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    • Morgan Hill Fan

      Wow Steve, I am always on the lookout for a Longhorn with the 402.
      In the mid 70’s my dad purchased a 70 Longhorn with M20 4-spd and 3.55 gears. It was on the 1ton chassis(blown rear axle bearing told us). Holley on Eldelbrock and short glass packs on Headman Headers still makes great noise in my dreams.
      Someday I hope to find another to give to dad as a retirement surprise. Keep on Truck’n!

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  8. boxdin

    There were some 12 foot beds too beginning in 1973 or so.

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    • G.P. Member

      I have never heard of a 12 foot long truck box and now I see I really see a picture of one. Thanks, that’s a first for me.

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    • M1008

      If I had one of these around, I would sell my trailers.
      Carpet delivery?

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    • Jason

      Longfoot or Longhorn?

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  9. Rock On

    Sorry Howard A, the people have spoken. Big block lovers are very set in their ways!

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  10. Rustytech

    I agree with Howard (sorta) the 396 is not very practical in this day and age for a daily driver truck unless your planning on pulling something very heavy. If I needed a 3/4 ton truck, and were inclined to buy this one, I’d swap in a 350 and save the 396 for a Chevelle or Camaro project.

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  11. Jeffro

    If I’m towing, I’d prefer a diesel.

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