Tow Rig Candidate: 1982 Chevrolet C30 Silverado

Though summer is nearly over, as an automotive archaeologist, I realize that as the days go by, winter is coming. As the year draws to a close, pretty soon the leaves will fall off of the trees, and with that the cars sitting outside will be easier to spot. If the cars are worthy of being saved, most likely you’ll need a rig to tow them out of the spot that they were stationed at. This 1982 Chevrolet C3500 Silverado dually would be a perfect tow rig vehicle for any automotive purchase, whether sitting outside desolate or sitting in a garage eagerly awaiting a new owner. Find it here at Matt Hagen Motors in Newport, North Carolina, with an asking price of $7,995 OBO.

Though GM did not come out with the first crew cab American pickup truck (that honor goes to International Harvester), GM was credited with the first dual-rear wheel pickup truck, beginning in 1973. This allowed GM to be ahead of the competition by at least seven years, and the availability of four-wheel drive added to the capability and desirability. This dually (the nickname for dual-rear wheel pickup trucks) is a 1980 Chevrolet C3500, and looks pretty nice in Silverado trim. It appears to be in pretty decent shape, but there is a little bit of rust that needs to be addressed. I love the fact that this truck is a long-bed crew cab, and the western truck mirrors, red color, side steps, and front and rear silver bumpers are nice details as well. I would address the rust, straighten out a few things that are misaligned, and make sure the tires are good to go.

Here’s a look at the inside of the bed, which is fitted with a bed-liner and a bed-mounted toolbox, both of which will come in handy for just about anything. Unfortunately, there are no pictures of the drivetrain and engine, but the truck is equipped with a big-block 454 (the picture of the 454 in the provided link is not completely stock, but it’s close enough) and a TH-400 three-speed automatic. Rated at 230 horsepower and 360 lb-ft of torque, this 1982’s 454 is not much for power, but if it were me buying this truck, I would build it up for power and reliability (can you build up a 454 for fuel economy? If so, feel free to explain below in the comments section below). I would also add a Gear Vendors overdrive unit to the Turbo 400 transmission, and go around the country car hunting. Though I would have preferred this truck to have four wheel drive, the two wheel drive setup will get the job done just fine.

On the inside of the truck, the interior is not bad, but not great either. There’s some small tears in the bottom front seat cushion, the carpet is faded, and the rear driver’s side door panel is messed up. Otherwise, the rest of the interior presents fairly well, and I love the fact that the dash face curves like that (it reminds me of the 1969 to 1972 Grand Prix dash face). I’m pretty sure the truck is equipped with air conditioning, and the chrome-look accents enhance the interior very nicely. Though this truck has a few flaws, I doubt you will find a nicer one for the money, and if the seller is lenient with the price, hopefully this truck can be bought for the right price. What are your thoughts on this crew-cab dually?

Fast Finds


  1. Dave Wright

    Nice truck……I wore several out and love them. The issue is if you drive it much, you could make the payments on a new or newer one with the fuel cost savings. My 2006 3500 GMC Duramax Dually flatbed 4X4 gets 14 MPG pulling a 10,000 lb trailer. That could be twice the MPG as this old girl will get on a good day and I have a lot more power. This is one place that technology rules. At 2.90 per gallon a 600 mile day you will save 130.00 with the newer truck,

    • Tim

      I’d most definitely have to agree. I love the old classics but modern technology will surpass these old dinosaurs in all areas.😎

    • PoPPaPork

      Im thinking hit copart for a modern wrecked diesel dually and do a body swap. Enjoy modern everything while looking classy

      • James

        We actually replaced our newer Duramax and Cummins trucks with older 454 and 8.1 Chevys a couple of years ago to lower running costs. And our accountant has been proven correct. Averaging 10,000 miles per month towing, the older gas trucks are cheaper to run. Yes they get 3-6 mpg less than the newer diesels but they cost many thousands of dollars less each year than the newer diesels to maintain and far far less to buy. But the big saving is that they break down far less often, especially in the winter. Which saves a fortune on towing bills. And also the gas trucks have saved thousands of dollars on downtime because they’re rarely off the road for more than a day, when the diesels could sometimes be down for a week due to repairs. When they’re not on the road, they’re costing a business a lot of money because work isn’t getting done. And something that I’ve really noticed is that due to having less torque service items such as u joints last several times longer in the gas trucks. They are certainly slower up the hills with a 15,000lb trailer but they’ll always get to the top, that’s the difference. Many other businesses than run fleets are switching to gas trucks to lower running costs, I’ve spoken to a fella thats noticing huge savings running 6.2 gas Ford’s over the powerstrokes that they used to run. But his employees aren’t so happy about driving the less powerful gas trucks!

      • geomechs geomechs Member

        I’ve specialized in diesel service for many years now, pretty much since the GM dealership I worked for closed down. I’m the worst hypocrite because I don’t own a diesel, and never have. I see the bills go across the counter and shudder. When I can replace the entire engine in my Ford 3/4 ton for the price of a set of rebuilt heads and injectors in a Duramax, I start to question the value of running a diesel. Back in the days of the 6.2 GM or the 6.9 Ford with mechanical fuel injection pumps it would’ve almost paid for me but I wasn’t in the market for a new truck back then. Since then, especially since the advent of electronic controls I’ve seen costs of repairs go up astronomically! There’s been a lot of customers put their trucks up for sale because they can’t pay the bill.

      • Dave Wright

        Diesels only make sense to people that do miles, we have averaged 75,000 miles a year on our Duramax and it has more than paid for its self. The only terrible maintenance item are the injectors…..I am having a set installed next month, first in 285,000 miles……and they have become less expensive. About 2100.00 for a complete set. But we do lots of miles and a saving of over 100.00 a day in fuel cost along with the incredible power the LBZ makes, it is worth it.


    How can you not show the 454? Love the truck, and as you say Mitchell, drive around the USA looking for cool stuff next to a house, or chasing Barn Finds, sounds like an excellent retirement plan. Of course I would expect 8-10 mpg out of this. My big block Suburban gets 9-10 around town, so driving 300 miles in a day would cost you…$60 to $80… hotel expense…food… hmmmm might be doable. Room for the dogs too. Honey, we are hittin the road!!!!

  3. John M.

    Nice clean rig with very low mileage for the year. The $7995 is fair enough but it’s good that the seller is willing to take the best offer. This Bow Tie won’t be sitting on the dealer’s lot for long.

    • steve

      I respectfully could not dis agree more I think the selling price is insane 8K for a 35 year old work truck that gets 8mpg….. too rich for my blood

      • Tuco

        you’re kiddin

  4. P

    This is a barn find?????

    • Mitchell Gildea Member

      In a traditional sense, no. But given the fact that most Square body pickup trucks either rusted out or were used up, it’s not a common sight on roads today, especially in crew cab dually form

      • Dave Wright

        Where do you live? They are as common as stray cats here in Idaho. I commonly drive by 1/2 a dozen of them just driving through my town of 5,000 people always have one or two in our shop.

      • Tuco

        Dave is sitting on a gold mine. everyone in his town probably drives a split window corvette to church on Sunday too. My kind of town!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Tuco

      Tell me when you find your next barn find. I wont be holding my breath. Everyone that wants to read about true barn finds only can check back with me in 5 years and I will tell you about all 12 of them that have been documented. It’s a rare find. Enjoy it or just keep looking in every barn that has already had 1000 guys before you gazing in it with a wet dream of finding the last great discovery.

  5. geomechs geomechs Member

    We sold a lot of these back in the day. There wasn’t really a lot of smog equipment on these motors, even in 1982. But you could get away with a simple lift of the metering rods in the carb, and recurving the advance. A timing gear set for a 454 LS5 or 6 smartened up the valve timing. A ‘Torquemaster’ camshaft was also a good way to increase power without breaking the bank. That would be the way I would set up a truck like this. I couldn’t afford to buy a new Duramax at the best of times unless I won the lottery. I wouldn’t buy one used and I sure wouldn’t finance a vehicle that cost more than my first house. I wouldn’t bother to install an overdrive unit; they don’t really get the results that everyone raves about.

    Case in point: I have a customer who runs a couple of 1-ton Dually Dodges with Cummins diesel engines. He uses them to transport new RVs from the factories to the dealerships in the prairie region. He bought two new trucks back in 03, and immediately noticed that they were both slugs; they sucked fuel like it was going out of style and if the truck looked at a hill, it was immediately in the slow lane being passed by VW bugs and farm tractors. I checked out the axle ratios and found that he was running 3:55 gears, compared to the 4:10s he was running on his old trucks. The dealership he bought the truck from insisted that fuel economy was so much improved by the higher speed axles in that there were less engine revolutions per mile with the taller gears. The dealer insisted that the customer change his driving habits. I told them: ‘less revolutions per mile but bigger gulps of fuel; I’ve been in the diesel and gas service business for over 40 years and one thing I can definitely say about both: they all run better on top of the torque curve than underneath it.’ But someone with an engineer’s degree told me to pound sand, and I input was ignored. The customer finally got tired of fighting them and had 4:10 gears installed in both trucks at his expense. He then took his results back to the dealer. His fuel economy improved from 9 mpg loaded to 12 mpg. His travel times were so much better that he was actually gaining a day per week. The dealer might have argued if he had only one truck but he had two identical trucks. Moral of story: The dealer had to eat some crow; the engineer probably still got a bonus….

    • Dave Wright

      Great example and I am sure true. I was trained to spec a truck to run at the RPM that the engine develops maximum torque at the speed you want to run. That gives the best fuel economy. I have seen guys do that, then change the tire size, screwing everything up. My dad used to say there are very few car dealers that can spec a truck properly. He always bought his fleets from either the local GMC truck dealership or the IHC guys. There are 4 numbers you need to sec a truck. The tire diameter, the RPM where maximum torque is made, the differential ratio and desired speed (highway). Most transmissions are 1 to 1 in high gear……if it is an overdrive, you need to know that too. So, a little algebra and you know where you should be or where you are.

  6. chevylover

    i have 2 of them 85 custom deluxe30 2 door 350 with 3speed manual love it 89 Cheyenne 4door 454 with automatic paid 5500$ from original owner 2years a go no rest spot paint new150k miles new engine 40k oh boy both fuel thank is good just shown off in Washington dc street

  7. Jay E.

    I had one of these and used it for years towing a horse trailer. Pathetic fuel economy, unreliable due to the pedal mashed to the floor on hills, harsh ride and uncomfortable cab. But it was what was available at the time. In 1998 I bought a Ram 3500 Cummins 5 speed (wish it were a 6) and thought I had gone to heaven. I would NEVER wish to go back. I still drive the Ram. Comfortable, tracks straight, small turning radius, 18 MPG. It is a bit noisy and I lost 5 gear at 130k miles ( common issue easy fix). But wow, there is no comparing this GM dinosaur to my pre-2000 Ram. But I do agree, the latest versions, even with all that power are out of my league, both financially and in size.

  8. Doug Potts

    I’m gonna get picky here. Before 1988 Chevy trucks were designated in 10, 20 and 30 for 1/2, 3/4, and 1 ton models. GMC used 15, 25, and 35. This 1500, 2500, 3500 signage did NOT appear until 1988. It’s a good looking truck for an 82 but that 454 is good for about 8 Mpg.

  9. Doug

    The first thing I would do is check under the bedliner for rust – those things keep moisture trapped and can lead to rusted out beds, even though the rest of the truck may be virtually rust free. A close friend of mine has a 1985 4wd version of this truck, equipped with a 1976 Cadillac 500 running the stock Caddy carburetor, Sanderson headers and Turbo 400. We drove it with an 8foot cabover camper, towing an empty car trailer, from Reno NV to LA, and with a 2200 lb car on the trailer back to Reno – running at 65-70 most of the way up and down US 395, and at about 60-65 down 14 to LA. We averaged 15.8 mpg for the trip. The Caddy 500 has great torque, and the cars often got
    22mpg or better on the open road. I would put in the Caddy engine, equipped with one of the new “self-tuning” throttle body injectors that bolt in place of the carburetor ( cost about $ 1000 – 1200, depending on what sensors may be required ), and perhaps spring for the GearVendors overdrive since this truck is a 2wd version – if it were a 4wd, to avoid hassles with the transfer case, I’d probably switch to one of the 4L80E variants, some of which give you a 6 speed gearbox.

  10. Carver Speed

    I really like this, all CCLB’S should be red! Not much use for the BBC but an LS swap would be sweet! I have the same truck in a 95 6.5, I wish I had found this one first.

  11. Mike H. Mike H

    “I would also add a Gear Vendors overdrive unit. . .”

    Is it just me, or is this a common theme for this author? Just this morning I’ve seen (4) stories of his, and in each one a “Gear Vendors overdrive” has been mentioned, including in the post on that gorgeous Corvair wagon. . . I checked the Gar Vendors website, by the way; I couldn’t find an offering to fit the Corvair transaxle.

    Is this author endorsing their product or something?

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