Spotlight: 1980 Chevy Truck

When the middle of the sixties rolled around, trucks were used simply as work vehicles, but Chevrolet wanted to change this concept and create a more functional truck that could be used for more than just hauling and carrying large loads. There came the 1980 Chevy Truck.

With a goal to create a less ‘truck-y’ pickup, Chevy created a series of trucks that would rival competing models from similar companies making trucks such as Dodge, GMC, and International.

The rising trend of Americans buying trucks urged the company to create something that would stand out among the current pickup truck offerings.

General Motors, also known as GMC or Chevrolet, created the classic truck body that would be made for all 1975-1982 created pickups that were produced in Chile. The 1980 Chevy pickup is an integral year for the production of the third generation of Chevy/GMC brand C/K series that debuted in 1973.

Review and Specifications of the 1980 Chevy Truck

A complete redesign of all General Motors’ Chevrolet and GMC branded trucks was released in mid-1972 for the 1973 model year. The testing and redevelopment of the truck began in 1968 with vehicle components partaking in simulated testing on computers before the first prototype pickups were even made for real world testing on roads.

The cab of the pickup saw the most change when it came to the truck’s complete makeover, taking a turn from the typical looking American cab to the iconic ‘square-body’ or ‘box-body’ generation of body types.

The rounded parts of the truck were still highlighted, however and incorporated into the design by way of rounded windshield corners, rounded corners of the cab roof, rounded corners of the doors, slanted front fenders, and rounded pickup box corners.

The rounded pickup box corners created a first for GM pickups because they allowed for rounded wraparound tail lamps, a legendary look that would be imprinted in GM history forever.

Other remarkable redesigns of the 1980 Chevy truck’s body included the distinguished curved shoulder lines, which caused the beltline to create a small curve as well.

The reasoning behind the rounded-line design was made in an effort to help improve the truck’s aerodynamics and increase fuel efficiency, using new age technology of the wind tunnel concept.

The third generation of GM trucks also included the sleek and sophisticated hidden radio antenna that was embedded into the windshield glass.

Different Models of the 1980 Chevy Truck

The 1980 Chevy truck offered two different models for drivers to choose from – the Fleetside by Chevrolet and the Wideside by GMC.

1987 Chevrolet V-10 Fleetside |  Image CC 3.0 by Stephanosblue via Wikimedia Commons

1987 Chevrolet V-10 Fleetside | Image CC 3.0 by Stephanosblue via Wikimedia Commons

Both models flaunt full width pickup boxes and feature a flared shoulder line to complement the cab in addition to rounded box corners and the new rounded wraparound tail lamps we previously touched on earlier.

Both steel and wood floors were available for both models and could be picked out according to the buyer’s personal preference.

The third generation of the Chevy pickup was the longest living design of all of the generations and three-box styling has proved to be quite popular ever since the release way back when in the seventies.

The Wideside by GMC was the first in-house built crew cab. On the other hand, the Chevy Fleetside offers this cab with only a single front bench seat beginning in the year 1976.

The 1980 Chevy truck can be found in several different styles, including the C10, K10, and S10.

1985 Chevrolet C10 known as Red Rocker | Image CC 3.0 by dave_7 via Wikimedia Commons

All three of these versions were rated as half-ton vehicles but the S10 body was slightly smaller than the C10 and K10. The main difference between the C10 and K10 was the drive train, for the C10 had two-wheel drive and the K10 had four-wheel drive.

The engines inside of the 1980 Chevy truck varied between numerous six- and eight-cylinder engines that all featured gasoline combustion. The 4.1-liter, two-barrel six-cylinder engine was much more prominent than then 4.8 liter one-barrel engine.

There were seven gasoline-burning V-8 choices and the 5.0-liter, two-barrel and the 5.7-liter four-barrel were the most common in a newly purchased 1980 Chevy truck.

The V-8 engines included in the 1980 Chevy truck models now showed the dipstick on the passenger side instead of the driver side. All of the V-8 four-wheel drive trucks had the NP 205 transfer case and the 400 small blocks were no longer an option for the K10 models of the 1980 Chevy truck.

1984 Chevrolet C10 | Image CC 2.0 by GPS 56 via Wikimedia Commons

Other differences included the fuel tank being moved from the cab to the outside of the truck’s frame with an added option for a dual tank which brought the fuel capacity up to forty U.S. gallons, an unheard of feat in the eighties.

The rounded-line generation of the Chevy pickup truck was produced for a lengthy fifteen years from 1973 to 1987.

This includes all models with the exception of the Crew Cab (C/K-30 four-door cab), Blazer, Jimmy, and Suburban versions, which were continued up until the 1991 model year.

Interior, Powertrain, and More Specs

1988 Chevrolet C1500 | Image CC 2.0 by GPS 56 via Wikimedia Commons

When it comes to the interior and safety of the third-generation Chevy trucks, multiple trim packages were offers with different levels of equipment for each tier.

Although the names of the trim levels were changed throughout the years, Chevrolet and GMC keep them relatively similar. For models made in years 1978 to 1987, bright-brushed aluminum inserts replaced typical wood grain inserts.

The 1980 Chevy truck is set apart from the rest in the fact that it had a one-year-only front end with a more flat front grille and square-shaped headlights.

The 1980 model proved to set the precedent for the 1981 model because the entire production run was the same with an additional simplified front clip, new hood, and single plane grille.

Other features of the 1980 Chevy truck that are not found in any other models is that the 1980 truck was the first year that a cassette tape player could be purchased, along with a CB radio.

1980 Chevrolet C-10 Silverado | Image CC 2.0 by order_242 via Wikimedia Commons

1980 Chevrolet C-10 Silverado | Image CC 2.0 by order_242 via Wikimedia Commons

The first cassette tape players in vehicles were found in the 1965 Ford and Motorola cars and included the 8-track tape car player which were replaced by cassettes shortly after. In 1984, Pioneer produced the world’s first car CD player, the CDX-1.

The powertrain of the 1980 Chevy truck consisted of GM’s new Load Control rear suspension system with a rear live axle and dual stage Vari-Rate multi-leaf springs and asymmetrical (offset) shock absorber geometry to support any ‘wheel hop’ under heavy loads or quick acceleration.

The 1980 Chevy truck sported permanent four-wheel drive that was discontinued on the K-series of trucks.

When it comes to the wheels of the 1980 Chevy truck, the wheelbase length was extended for both the short wheelbase pickups and the long wheelbase pickups. A new dual rear wheel variation dubbed the ‘Big Dooley’ was featured on the one-ton pickups, along with the crew cab option already discussed.

For the Big Dooley, Chevy even created an Elimipitch camper for those looking to increase the square footage on these classic trucks.

If we look further at the K20 and C30 options of Chevy’s classic 1980 pickup truck, we see that the crew cabs were available on the C30 models as was the chassis cab, and K20 chassis cab models in two versions.

The two versions were the 3+3, which could seat six occupants and the bonus cab option that took out the rear seat and added a rear lockable storage in place of the extra seating.

Summary of the 1980 Chevy Truck

Chevrolet C-10 Custom Deluxe 1988 | Image CC 2.0 by order_242 via Wikimedia Commons

General Motors ends the third generation of their classic pickups with the 1987 model as the 1987 model was the last year for the conventional two-door cab models. The 1980 Chevy truck showcased a turning point in the GM C/K models and body type typical of the automaker’s usual style.

The change in body style and the amount of different cab options created a more personalized and functional truck that people who were not just using it as a workhouse could drive and love. The engine, the body, the interior, and all specifications were completely unique in the 1980 model of the Chevy’s iconic pickup truck.

Rick Man Joorian

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