No Reserve Short Bed: 1980 GMC Sierra

Even with short bed C10 and Sierra pickups commanding increasingly stronger money, you can still find driver-quality examples for a fair price – but you’ll have competition. The smart way to buy one of these is outside of the glare of eBay, as they’re still fairly prominent in small towns and rural areas. That being said, paying a bit more for one that is running and driving is never a bad decision, especially if it’s rust-free. This 1980 GMC Sierra appears to be all of those things, and although it left the factory with the dreaded diesel, it now sports a Chevy small block V8. Find it here on eBay with no reserve and bidding to just over $4,000.

The color scheme is far from eye-popping, but it is pretty typical for a 1980s-era farm implement. That’s what’s so ironic about these short-bed pickups: they were bought to be a workhorse, not a fashion statement, and certainly used that way for many years. They eventually become just tired, used trucks that parked outside and beat on, but now there’s a groundswell of collectors who want them in any form: restored, daily driver, restomod, you name it. The seller reports that this Sierra remains in driver-quality condition, with an average paint job and straight body panels, but an interior that needs some work.

Ah, yes – the cabin is somewhat tired. The GMC is located in Alabama, which can get fairly hot, but I don’t know if the damage we’re seeing here is due to the sun beating down on it for years or just weathering a lot of entrances and exits over time. The bench seat will need new upholstery and the dash is cracked, and it looks as if the door panels are pretty tired, too – certainly, the map pockets have given up the ghost. If the indicated mileage is accurate, it seems quite low for the year, as the listing pegs it at 53,000. Still, these odometers are known to be wonky, and with engine swap, who knows what we’re really working with.

Now, the diesels weren’t awful, but they weren’t great, either. While some of these trucks are still running around with the original 6.2L engine bolted up, that’s not exactly a testament to their reliability. Among a variety of issues was the glaring fact that Detroit Diesel didn’t have a lot of experience with four cycle engines, and they were seriously underpowered. If you don’t replace the harmonic balancer, it can turn the entire engine into a paperweight fairly expeditiously, which is perhaps why this truck now has a gas-powered small block under the hood – or, the owner simply got tired of maxing out at 40 miles per hour on a hill. This Sierra isn’t the prettiest one out there, but it could likely be transformed with a fresh interior and some paint correction.


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  1. CCFisher

    Someone correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe that a 1980 GMC diesel pickup would have had an Olds 5.7 diesel, not the Detroit Diesel 6.2. The DD engine wasn’t offered until 1982.

    Like 8
    • Tom

      I believe you’re correct. It was common back then to see these trucks with a 455 Olds swapped into them because the 5.7 Olds based diesel was so bad. The Detroit 6.2 was no powerhouse but it was a good, reliable engine that was infinitely better than the 5.7

      Like 3
    • Steve R

      The VIN decodes to a 5.7L diesel.

      Steve R

      Like 2
  2. Howard A Member

    Hmm, I guess I should, nay, must get in on this one. It’s clear, the great folks of Alabama aren’t out to bilk the public, and a far more plausible price for this truck. The fact it’s not gone yet ( and bids of $5 dollar increments) makes me wonder if all the “squarebody” hype, is really just that. This truck has a zillion miles, I bet. The diesel had it’s shortcomings, especially in the north, but in the south, I bet they put several HUNDRED thousand miles on the diesel alone, easy. It was the cold that wore them out prematurely. This truck is almost like mine, except mine has the 4 speed, Geomechs can clarify, but I think the “Sierra Classic” was the cheapie, followed by mine, the “High Sierra”, and the top of the line, the “Sierra Grande’,,( whistles,, GRANDE!! What’s with the Sierra, anyway?), all the same truck, and bidding shows, much more in line for this truck, so there’s some hope, I guess. Moral of story, DON’T buy anything in California.

    • Jeff Boyd

      I remember the Sierra Classic as the top of the GMC food chain. My Dad had a 1974 2-tone cream and white 2 wheel drive Sierra Classic. Light-duty trucks at that time were exempt from some of the smog regs of the day. He ordered it with every option available, I think. Saddle brown interior, factory buckets with console, in-dash tachometer, white-painted rally wheels and wide tires to provide better traction for the power produced by the 454 with dealer-added Hooker headers. The truck was beautiful and hauled a$$! The one time I saw him take on another truck resulted in seeing the grille of a Dodge Little Red Express in the rear view mirror in very short order!

      Like 4
      • Charlie

        Correct. The Sierra was the entry level with rubber floor mats standard. I had a 79 Sierra Classic Heavy Half. I thought the high Sierra’s were typically 4 wheel drive. Can anyone confirm?

    • Tom

      Several hundred thousand miles on a 6.2 is believable, but I seriously doubt that hardly any 5.7 diesels made it half that far. I workedat a GMC dealership back then and I can promise you that the 5.7’s were awful. And it didn’t help any that none of the mechanics knew how to work on them

      Like 1
  3. Bruce

    These came with 350 old diesels. I refit mine a 78 and my brother in laws a 80 with 1970 310hp Olds 350 gas engines. Drop in replacement, manifolds, all accessory brackets. Even used the hd diesel starter and radiator and the dual HD’s batteries. It gave them a lot of power. But the fuel mileage dropped from about 24 mi to gal on diesel to about 12 miles per gal on gas. Remember when these were built gas had just jumped over a dollar per gal., and diesel was 50 cents a gal.

  4. t-bone BOB

    Ended: May 17, 2021 , 5:27PM
    Winning bid:US $7,100.00
    [ 48 bids ]

    Item location:Haleyville, Alabama

    Like 1

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