Perfect for an LS swap?: 1983 C-10 no reserve

Described as being a perfect candidate for an LS motor swap, this 1983 Chevrolet C-10 shortbed is offered here on eBay where bidding is at $1,225 with no reserve!  Thanks to Tyler L. for the tip.  While not necessarily a rare truck, these short box Chevys are getting increasingly harder to find and the prices are rising.  If a short bed C-10 build is on your bucket list, then this may be the perfect truck for you.  Then again, if what you desire is a reasonably priced work truck or cruiser, this unmolested driver quality truck should fit your needs as well.  With a 305 cubic inch V8 and a TH350 automatic transmission, this truck won’t win any races in its present form, but will have no problem getting you from A to B comfortably.

Appearing mostly rot free, this angle shows the few small areas of rust that are present behind the rear wheel wells which is a very common problem spot on these trucks.   True to this trucks ’80s styling, you can see accesories such as a windshield visor, bug guard, and entry handles screwed to the cab.  The presence of these outdated add-ons backs up the sellers claim that the truck has not been messed with since it was new.

Here lies the small but capable 305 cubic inch motor and Turbo 350 transmission, both replacement units with unknown miles according to the seller.  Since the original drivetrain is already long gone and replaced, I don’t think it would be too sacrilegious to swap in a newer and far more powerful LS motor as is suggested in the ad.  What do you think?

The dented bed of this C-10 reflects a life of a truck that was obviously worked hard on occasion, but also maintained and cared for.  Its hard to tell if the rust on the rear edge of the bed floor is just on the surface, or if there are holes forming.  However if this is the extent of the bed rust, it shouldn’t be a major concern either way.

Showing some wear from decades of use, the interior of this truck could definitely use some detailing and refurbishment, but is still usable as-is.  So what would you do if you won the auction on this C-10?  Keep it original and drive it, or go with the sellers original plan of swapping a turbocharged 4.8 LS motor and making a hot rod hauler?

Fast Finds


  1. Ken Carney

    Definately use it as a work truck. I could create two jobs for my disabled BILS by using it to haul scrap. Other than that, the truck would
    be well maintain and well loved.


    Mid 1970″s to early 1980’s Chevy trucks are rare because they rusted out right on the showroom floor. The Japanese aftermarket sprang up and mushroomed into what it is today because of this single model. Where I am from you could buy the ill fitting replacement fenders at the local department store and wheel them out in your cart! That is the time when Dodge trucks started really selling well

    • Howard A Member

      Hi AMCFAN, that’s true, but I heard the reason these rusted so quickly, was because GM bought contaminated steel from Japan in the 1st place ( probably ground up rusty ’65 Chevy’s) Dodge did gain popularity around this time, but look what happened to Dodge. Seen some pretty rusty newer Dodges lately.

      • AMCFAN

        Howard I never relate to “hearsay” even though fiction is more believable at times then the truth.

        So what you are saying is GM bought cheap foreign steel? How come just the Chevy and GMC trucks turned to powder? Wouldn’t everything else GM made do the same? Funny I have never heard that. So my question is why did those cheap Japanese replacement panels last longer then the GM OEM panels? Came from the same source from what you said….you heard….right? I am pretty sure it was more of a quality problem. GM rushed it to production knowing the public would buy anything with a bowtie mentality.

        Your second statement. Just so I know. You are referring to what Dodge truck? Daimler, The holding company after or Fiat?

      • Tyler

        Let’s face it, everything GM built from the 60’s on, including vehicles being built this century, have premature rust issues. My 04 GMC has rust developing in the rockers, & I have seen a 07 Silverado that was Swiss cheese. The engine & tranmission in my 67 C10 came from a 02 Avalanche from Indiana that the frame had broken in half from rust.

  3. DrinkinGasoline

    I worked with a guy who kept his father’s 83 after he passed and drove it daily. It was literally rotted up to darn near to the tops of the fender wells all the way around as with most of these in the northeast. It started, ran, and stopped but there was nothing left of the body. GM held onto this body style way too long and ended up being kicked in the sack because of it. And AMCFAN is correct that during this time, the “Asian” LKQ aftermarket parts market began to thrive. Albeit, this example seems to have carried itself well…..don’t expect longevity of the sheet metal should you choose to expose it daily life in a 4 seasons environment.

  4. boxdin

    Drive it and take care of it and it will never lose value. May even go up !

  5. George

    Cost more to ship it 2 OR than current bid. That’s why it will never see my back yard.

  6. Howard A Member

    Jim Rockford’s dad ( Rocky) had a similar GMC, only 4 wheel drive.( notice clever placement of grill guard to hide the “GMC”)

  7. jdjonesdr

    Gotta love those wheel spinners! Looks like an honest truck to me.

  8. geomechs geomechs Member

    Speaking from experience in a service department, these were good trucks overall. The rust issues coincide with the amount of salt used on the roads. In the Chinook belt serious rust-outs were not all that common. It also helps immensely if you wash out the fender wells and undercarriage when you wash your truck. My ’79 developed a couple of blisters in the same places as this one but those are also where it’s impossible to get to.

    LS swap? Not for me. The 305 will do the job just fine. Flipping the crankshaft timing sprocket over will advance the valve timing. Up the main jets a size or two and it will chirp the tires when you take off. The late version THM 350 has a torque converter lock-up that works very well NOT plugged in. This will have ESC. It works great until you have a loose nut rattling around on the intake manifold. That sensor in the water jacket is SENSITIVE! I can tell you a story about a Camaro with a pill bottle rattling around on top of the transmission from the factory.

    Good luck to the buyer. Run it, fix on the go and enjoy….

  9. gaspumpchas

    I’m with Geomechs—buy it cheap and use the heck out of it. Beats the hell out of paying 30k plus for a new stripped 2wd work truck. Hated to get rid of my 83 but it was ready to break in half- frame,,,, good luck!

  10. UPSManMike

    I have seen and drove this truck. It’s solid, but my wife wanted a jeep… no truck for me.

  11. Luke

    You have a lot of people who just don’t take care of their vehicles. If you wash them and made sure you got the under carriage your chances of premature rust just didn’t happen. My 76 C-10 was in great shape when I sold in in 83. Bought a 84 C-10 and kept it until 1990 but also took good care of it, used it to for fishing trips to the beach in Florida but always washed it good to remove all salt. That’s all you have to do is keep it clean. that goes for any truck or car. in my life as a mechanic I have seen frames rust in to, vehicles from Michigan and New York and any state where they use salt on the roads is vehicle murder.

  12. Dixiedog

    These trucks were originally built from an uncounted steel. In some plants they had only a spray primer and were not ELPO coated (google this process). In fact all Saint Louis plant built trucks of this series never had ELPO, only spray primer.
    In 1979 the exterior panels were switched to Zincrometal, (Google this)this steel has a zincdust in a plastic coating on one side. In 1988, the GMT 400 trucks switched to two side coated galvanized steel, using a coating weight of 90G/90G on underbody parts and 70G/70G on exterior sheetmetal (goggle what this means), along with ELPO primer.
    As federal Crash standard changed the rocker sections had more reinforcements added and getting ELPO coverage in these sections became far more difficult. The best thing to do is to wash out all rocker sections, and doors, through the drain holes in the spring also wash over the rear wheel wells. Then in mid summer when you are sure everything is dry spray fogging oil in all holes.
    Then park in your neighbors driveway for two days, or the empty lot next door until it stops dripping.

  13. Dixiedog

    Correction to above: uncoated steel, not “uncounted”

  14. Luke

    I like the part where you park the truck in your neighbors driveway, you are right about the uncoated metal and I have seen this in many trucks in those particular years. What I forgot to mention is a quirk that I always did after purchasing a new truck was to go to the inside of the cab behind the seats and where the dirt would accumulate and fill it with undercoating also on the outside under the truck where most of the damage occurs, I always kept the truck clean underneath and did not experience the problems others had.

Leave A Comment

RULES: No profanity, politics, or personal attacks.

Become a member to add images to your comments.


Notify me of new comments via email. Or subscribe without commenting.