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Survivor Truck: 1997 GMC Sierra 1500

Although this Sierra is “only” 20 years old, finding one in this nice of condition is an uncommon occurrence. Although this body style was manufactured from 1988-1998(2000 for some Suburbans and 2500s), many of them saw lives of heavy work and abuse. A great many of them (likely majority) can still be seen in most towns and cities toting ladder racks and service beds towing heavy loads. The cab corners and beds are the first things to go in rust-belt states and very few people have started “restoring” these trucks as of yet, but their time is quickly approaching. This clean 1997 Sierra can be found here on eBay in California with bidding at $3,050. 

This truck has a full bench and not the split bench that was available. This is also an SL model, which was the lowest model available on GMT400 Sierras. That combined with the crank windows and manual transmission confirm that this is a base model in disguise. I personally own a low-mileage 1996 Sierra that is also a base model with a pretty paint job, and this is the first SL I have come across besides my own that wasn’t white. This one does have a tilt column though! You’ll notice the floor is vinyl, not carpet which is yet another base model signature. This material is a breeze to clean and when shined up really makes the interior.

Some consider these to be the last of the “real” trucks, as it was this body style that was available initially with primitive fuel injection that eventually became Throttle Body Injection. Not only did these trucks see the transition from carburetors to computerized fuel injection, they were the transition. By 1997, both ABS and an ECU were in use in all models, and dual airbags became standard in 1/2 ton models. Starting in 1996, all engines were switched to GM Vortec engines which were designed for increased performance. Because this is a base model, what we are looking at here is a 4.3 liter V6 which is actually quite a tough and powerful little engine.

As can be seen in this picture, the body on this Sierra is as straight as can be. While these trucks can be easily found on the road just about anywhere in the US and Canada, very rarely are they in this nice of original condition. This truck is a one-family vehicle and has clearly seen lots of love and care. This truck isn’t quite a collector’s item, but it is a nice original example. Hopefully the new owner takes care of this Sierra the way it has been so far, because when maintained properly these trucks will last almost forever.


  1. Chebby

    Saw a really nice one of these: turquoise, 350, Flowmasters, get turned in to Cash For Clunkers. It was only worth 2,500 or so and they took the 4k credit instead to destroy a nice Chevy truck, I can only assume a lot of these disappeared that way.

    Same with a lot of the big Benzes and Lexuses and now a few short years later they are “collectible”.

    • Tony S

      “, I can only assume a lot of these disappeared that way.”


  2. Dave M

    Sold this 91 with the same mileage for 4800.00 last year.

  3. edh

    I had a 1996 C1500 red extended cab, manual transmission, with the POS 4.3L. I was very happy to unload it in 2001 with very low miles as the engine was blowing white smoke, thankfully it was a really cold day and the white smoke was not noticeable. It was the beginning of the end for GM with me, although I bought 2 more I should have learned my lesson with this one.

    • Andre

      That’s a shame you had a bad go. My experience with these was that they were some of the best trucks made.. they’d eventually rot away from what was seemingly always a stout driveline… worked to the bone, so to speak.

      This would be a great little DD truck to tool about in.

  4. whmracer99

    Sold this fully loaded 1992 Silverado earlier this year for $5k. Would suspect that this will go for about the same or a little more. These are great trucks and with decent options and fuel injection are reliable and comfortable rides.

    Like 2
    • Nova Scotian


  5. Sam

    Dad had a few of these. One was a short bed Silverado 4×4 in red with red interior. It was so sharp and drove great. I hated to see it go. Being in the equipment business, he also had an all white custom version dually for pulling a trailer and boat. It was beautiful and saw many trips to the lake. I miss them both.

  6. Rx7turboII

    Last year there was one of these on my local Craigslist with less than a thousand miles on it and he was asking $25,000 for it! Yeah right, nobody would pay $25,000 for one of these no matter what not even brand new! LOL

    • John C.

      Since someone mentioned price, I bought a 91 Silverado 1/2 ton 8 ft. bed 5.7 V8. auto, 2 tone paint, loaded, I ordered it from the brochure, waited 6 months for it, paid $12,500 (brand new) with a trade in of $5000 off. Could never do that with a new chevy truck today!

      Like 1
    • Smooth 21 Fan

      I have a nice 98 Z71 and would never sell it.. over 200 thousand miles and runs lime a dream…

      Like 1
  7. Maestro1 Member

    Andrew,well done, these trucks are great. This looks like a very good value. And yes, they run forever. Somebody jump on this. I have no room.

  8. Thedieseldoc

    “this body style that was available initially with a carburetor and then fuel injection”

    The 88-98 GMT400’S never came factory with a carburetor. From 88-95 they came equipped with TBI and then in 96 they were changed over to the first generation vortec engines.

    • Andrew Tanner Member

      I won’t disagree with you, because you’re right. But I will say that the early style throttle body was more similar to a carburetor than fuel injection in many ways, whereas the Vortec throttle body is much more similar to EFI as we know it today. I will also correct my writeup to better convey my meaning, thanks!

    • Troy S

      Yeah I had an ’87 half ton (old 73-87 body style) and that had the 350 TBI in it, first year for it in trucks I believe. With the 700R automatic and low gears that thing moved out pretty good.

  9. JimmyJ

    Paid $3200 CDN for my 93 gmc 5.0, 5 speed 4×4 long box 67000 kilometres had to paint it due to flaky gmc paint.
    Painted it for $1400 threw a 6″ lift and 35 inch tires now have a basically brand new truck for around 5 k 😄

  10. geomechs geomechs Member

    GM hit another home run with this style of truck. Lots of them still running daily out west. Some rusting problems above the rear fender wells, but then, it seems that ALL of them tend to rust there. I would be tempted to jump at this one myself if I needed it. Howard, I think you should jump on this one; your Sonoma kind of retired itself….

  11. Nrg8

    Bought one of these when they came on the scene. Both GMC and Chevy lots had 20 of them in the front rows. Red, blue, black, white, green. At the time here in Canada you could get a 2 dr blazer slt 4×4 for 19,999 . These short boxes were all the same but colors v6 5 speed ac, cc, tilt, cd player, cloth bench and the chrome rims. 13,999. I picked a navy blue one, with a tan interior and took it to a buddies performance shop. Tinted the windows, Bought a dual exhaust kit which was bolt on from manifold back with cats and splitter harness fot the other o2. Bigger throttle body, cold air kit. All bolt on so if it blowed up, put the old parts on for warranty. Never had a problem though. Really no weight so it was actually pretty quick. Got 2 wider 454ss rims and wider rubber for the back and it was a fun little hauler. Drop spindle kit with rear hardware to drop back end too. Drove it a year, put 35000km on it, and my designated driver lost control in a rain storm one night and folded it in half behind the cab on his side. Insurance paid out more than I had in it, but it had the makings of ending up like the one here. Just a nice coffee shop, home depot, parts runner. The only drawback was the seat was shat, it was a poor tweed like material that started unraveling anywhere butts were sliding in and out.

  12. 8banger Dave Member

    The 4.3 Vortec is a great little engine. Their Achilles Heel is the “spider” fuel injection line assembly that lives under the manifold (like a good spider would) that eventually will crack up and leak all over the place. Have replaced a lot of them little varmints.

  13. Joe Howell

    I loved my 98 short bed, 5 speed and 5 liter V8. Unfortunately it got crushed by a tree :(

  14. Brian W.

    95 Silverado with Z71 package, 5.7, cloth, extended cab, blue/blue, short bed, 141k miles. Planning to get another 35 years out of it.

  15. DaveT

    I used to refer to my black ‘98 Z71 as the black Trans Am of the truck world, miss it everyday.

  16. Nrg8

    Well bought at 7500

  17. Steven

    Would really love to know where he got that bench seat from, I’m trying to put one exactly like it just a different color in mine.

  18. Richard Nottingham

    I have a 1987 GMC Sierra getting ready to turn 277,000 sane engine just kept up the maintenance it’s Vortec 6 cylinder , body is still in good shape I’m thinking of a new paint job although the paint I was told could be buffed back to original it’s not faded just need to bring the shine back

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