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          1960-1966 Chevrolet/GMC Truck Buyers Guide. Compiled and written by Woogeroo with tips and suggestions from several people scattered across the Internet. Copyright 2004 by Woogeroo. This article may be saved, printed out or re-transmitted to other people as long as it is sent complete without changes in it's entirety and this tag is included. This is a buyer's guide for 1960-1966 Chevrolet/GMC trucks.. Updated February 2007

1960-66 Chevy / GMC Truck
Buyer's Guide

(February 2007)

By Woogeroo

What is a "Buyer's Guide" you may be wondering?

           Well, it is a guide to let you know what types of things to look for on a truck of this model that you may be considering purchasing. Maybe you saw an ol' 1964 short bed Fleetside down the road and asked if it was for sale. Now you are wondering what problem areas to check out. What areas are prone to rust? What parts or pieces are oftentimes missing? That is where this guide comes in.

           This article is meant to be a "guide" not a book, so every single thing that might be wrong with a potential truck will not be covered. The items listed in this article are the most common issues found with these old rigs. At the bottom of the article is a list of a few books that will provide you with even more information.

Before you buy -- Chevrolet or GMC?

           If you haven't already decided on a particular truck, the first thing you should do is spend a little time thinking about what you want to do with your truck. This will help you figure out which truck to go for. And while there are many factors that go into the basic decision, here are a few things to think about:

           If you want to hot rod and customize the truck, it is better to get a Chevrolet. The after-market / custom parts are more available for the Chevrolets. There are fewer custom parts for the 1960 - 1963 and generally cost more -- but there are many, many custom parts and options for 1964 - 1966 Chevrolet models. This does not mean you cannot customize a GMC or a 1960 - 1963 Chevrolet, but you need to be aware of this if you are thinking of doing a custom.

           GMC - if you are going to restore to stock, make sure the GMC specific parts are there: the hood, the grille and V-6 big block.

           If you are looking to add air suspension, you should find a 1963 - 1966 Chevy as a GMC and 1960 - 1961 Chevy or GMC will require much more work to change over. The 1963 - 1966 Chevy just requires the removal of the coil spring and then to install the air bags.

           If you want to go as stock as possible, there are many sources for used parts and reproduction parts. However, not all parts are reproduced and some of the used parts that remain can be costly.

Walking up to your first truck

           Be careful when inspecting trucks that have been sitting for awhile. If the truck has been sitting for a long time, sometimes critters take up residence in the vehicle. So beware of wasps, bees, ants, mice, etc. Be sure to check for evidence of mice, as they like to make houses in the roof system. Both forms of mouse excrement are extremely corrosive to metal.

Is it what you think it is?

           Appearances can be deceiving! And old trucks have a tendency to trade cabs, frames, engines and other components over their long, hard lives. Just because a seller tells you it's a 1963 GMC 1/2-ton doesn't mean it actually is. He may not be trying to deceive you, though, as these changes may have taken place before he bought the truck and he didn't check. It is not uncommon, given the interchangeability of this era truck, for GMCs to trade cabs, hoods and grilles with Chevrolets and vice versa.

           To verify the truck's identity, check the number plate in the door opening with the number stamped in the frame on top of the left side about a foot or so back from the front bumper. The stamping starts 23 inches from the front tip of the frame. It is just a little rear of the steering sector. Check to see if these numbers match. If not, the cab or the number plate has been changed and it could cause a problem getting registration. In some states, an engine number that does not match can cause a registration problem.

           Running the Vehicle Identification Number (the number found on the door data plate and on the frame) through one of the VIN checkers available online or through GM's restoration services will provide you with information as to what your truck is, when it was built (and where) and a few other details to help you determine how original and complete the truck is. We have several listed on the site:

           The VIN Buster by Bolter Frank "Fumblin46" Anderson. This check will also direct you back to the Gallery for the same year
           Deciphering the VIN yourself by Barry Weeks, showing you just exactly what all those numbers and letters mean

Specifics

           Now that you're done with the preliminaries, you can start really crawling around the truck looking at specific areas of concern.

Known Rust Issues

  • The mounting points of the radiator core support
  • The cab support mounts
  • Check along the bottom lip of the hood and around the turn signal lenses. Just above the windshield on the inside and outside. Once the roof leaks, the roof pillars are subject to failure - if this happens then the rear of the front fenders are being hit by water from the road as well as raining down from above.
  • Look in cab corners and check for dirt or old rags as this area may be rusted out so badly that there is a hole. Inner kick panels (the vertical side area next to your feet if sitting in the seat) and floor boards (also climb under the truck and look). Pull back the rubber floor board mats if you have to.
  • Inner and outer rocker panels
  • Bottoms of the doors, inside and outside
  • The bottom of the front fenders, next to where they line up to the doors
  • Check the vent windows in the doors to make sure they still swing back and forth. Sometimes the "'pivot" point at the bottom of the frame of the vent window has rusted out.
  • Give the metal a good "poke" with some kind of object, especially if the truck has been sitting for awhile. If it has a shiny paint job, this might not be a bad idea either but be careful what you try to poke it with so as not to irritate the current owner.
  • Check catalogs or online sites of parts vendors to see what patch repair panels are commonly sold to see what areas are more prone to rusting. This will give you a well-rounded idea of rust issues to check out.
Engines

Pickups, Suburbans and Panels

  • Chevrolet: came with an inline six cylinder and a small block 283 V-8 1960 –1966. The 327 V-8 became an option starting in the1966 model year
  • The 235 inline six cylinder was switched to the 230 inline six cylinder in 1963
  • 4 x 4's retained the 235 inline six cylinder in 1963 (not sure what last year 235 was for 4 x 4)
  • The 250 inline six cylinder was offered in the 1966 model year
  • GMC: 1960 - 1963 Big Block 305 V-6 only
  • GMC: 1964 - 1966 Big Block 305 V-6, (351 V-6 -1966 only) - or option of the above mentioned inline Chevrolet six cylinder engines

LCF (low-cab forward) Trucks

  • The 348 came in 1960 - 1963 Chevy 70, and 80-Series trucks
  • The 409 came in 1964 and 1965 model 60H and 80-Series trucks
  • The 1966 model 60H, and 80-Series came with the new 366ci. "Big Block"
Transmissions
  • The first year that the trucks came with a turbo hydromatic (automatic) transmission was 1966. Before that the only automatics available from the factory were the two-speed Power Glide transmissions.
  • On straight shift/manual transmissions, check for a knock in 1st gear or reverse. This would indicate a broken tooth on the gear. If the tranny jumps out of 2nd gear with the truck under power, this indicates a sync problem.
  • If the front main bearing is bad, it could occasionally jump out of third gear. Or if the rear shaft that goes into the front main drive has bad bearings or the end of the shaft is bad, it could also jump out of third gear under acceleration.

Brakes

  • Check for the parking brake/emergency brake handle. Also chase down the cables to check if they are still going into the rear wheels to engage the brake. If it is all there, check to make sure if it works or not. Many times when these trucks have an automatic transmission swapped in at a later time, the parking brake cables are removed, as part of the brake cable system for these trucks sits where the automatic transmission goes. Note: the 1966 Chevrolet and GMC uses a different type of parking brake cable system than the 1960-1965 so this may not be an issue if it has a later model transmission. Check for its existence anyway though.

Suspensions

  • 1960 - 1962 1/2- and 3/4-ton Chevrolet & GMC - torsion bar front end, coil springs in rear. The 1-ton and bigger trucks, had torsion bar front end, leaf springs in rear.
  • 1963 - 1966 Chevrolet - coil springs front and rear 1/2- and 3/4-ton. The 1-ton trucks had leaf springs rear, coil springs in front.
  • 1963 - 1966 GMC - leaf springs rear, coil springs in front, 1/2-, 3/4- and 1-ton
  • Canadian Trucks, both GMC and Chevy are the same as US built Chevy.
Body Parts
  • GMC has a different hood, grille (same all years) and tail gate from the Chevrolets. You need to know this in case there has been some cross swapping of parts.
  • GMC trucks had the same opening in the dash 1960-1966, but used one gauge cluster in the 1960-1961 models and another gauge cluster in the 1962-1966 models. The tachometer, clock and Bat-o-meter are much sought after options in the gauge cluster.
  • Chevrolet used a different grille every year for 1960-1963 year models. The grille for the Chevrolet was the same for 1964-1966 year models. The Custom Cab trucks had an aluminum grille.
  • Chevrolet used two different dash panels, 1960 - 1963 and 1964 - 1966
  • Wrap around windshields for the 1960 - 1963 trucks are much more expensive than the 1964 - 1966 trucks. This is something to consider if the windshield is in bad shape and you have a limited budget.
  • Parking light lenses for the 1964 - 1966 GMC are much more expensive than the lenses for the Chevrolet. Turn signals were not required until 1962, so the 1960 - 1961 may have add on signals instead of factory-installed. Most came factory installed but some farm trucks were sold with out them at all.
  • Door locks: the standard was on right side door only. The option was offered for left side lock.

Radios

           All original radios and the undisturbed dash were of the two post style. If the radio is missing and the dash has not been modified, there should be three holes, not one gaping hole. There should be two small holes which the posts for the radio knobs go through, one on each side of a much larger center hole for the face of the radio. If you want to go back to original, there are dash repair panels that you can purchase from various vendors.

Miscellaneous items

  • Spare tire carrier. There were two types of spare tire carriers. On a Stepside, there was an option where it was mounted on the left side of the bed, in front of the rear fender. If this option is on the truck, the rear fender is slightly different as there is an indention into the fender so that the tire could fit while hanging on the mount. The other place for a spare tire was underneath the bed, hanging off the frame rails.
  • Spare Tire. Does it have one? Is it the right size?
  • Jack. The stock jack, if it is still there, should be under the seat on the driver's side under the stock bench seat.
  • Steering wheel and column. The stock steering column for the 1960 - 1966 trucks did not have a switch for hazard lights on the column. The switch was separate and mounted under the dash. If you see a 1960 - 1966 truck with a hazard lights' switch on the column, it is either a custom steering column, a later model Chevy / GMC truck column or another make / model column. If the truck has been hotrodded or seriously customized, usually it will have a Chevy / GMC column or a custom aftermarket column that is derived from the Chevy / GMC - type column because most aftermarket wiring kits are setup to wire right into a Chevy / GMC - style steering column.
Function Checks -- Does everything / anything work?
  • Turn all switches on/off
  • Check any and all doodads, any after-market utilitarian things that were added. Air conditioning - fire it up and check if it blows cold
  • Check all lights: dome light, dash lights, headlights and turn signals
  • Roll the windows up and down. Open the vent windows. Check how the doors open and close. Do the doors lock? Does the glove box door stay shut?
  • Check to see if the speedometer and odometer work. Are they at all accurate?
  • Crawl under the dash and check out the electrical wires. Is it neat or does it look like a colorful bowl of spaghetti? This can give you insight into how the truck has been used and treated over the years.
Suburbans and Panels

           Suburbans and Panels came in only 1/2-ton versions, either with tail gates or barn doors. Panels came in 1/2- or 1-ton version with only barn doors. The GMC Suburban has the seats mounted in tracks so they can be adjusted back and forth. Chevy seats are bolted in one place only. The Suburban has three rows of seats, front seat in 60/40 split with the 40 being the flip up passenger seat to get the rear seating. Panels had the truck bench seat. The Suburban only had the two front doors for passenger loading. The 1/2-ton Suburban and Panel were built on same chassis as short-bed pickups. The 1-ton panels are built on 133 inch 1-ton chassis. Other than that they are pretty much the same as the pickups.

For further reading

           Here are a few sources for more information on the 1960 - 1966 GM trucks. Check out Motorbooks (obviously) -- they have good prices and some good sales! Also check in the Lots O' Links / Publications page.

Books:

  • How to Restore Your Chevrolet Pickup (New Edition/2004) by Tom Brownell (Motorbooks International) ISBN 0-7603-1634-1
  • Chevrolet Pickup Color History by Tom Brownell and Mike Mueller (Motorbooks International) ISBN 0-87938-776-X
  • Chevrolet Pickups - 1946-1972 by John Gunnell ISBN: 0-87938-282-1 available through (Motorbooks International)
  • GMC - The First 100 Years by John Gunnell ISBN-0-87349-236-5 available through (Motorbooks International)
  • Chevy Pickup Trucks by Steve Statham (Motorbooks International) ISBN 0-7603-0103-4
  • Pickup and Van Spotter's Guide 1045-1992 by Tad Burness (Motorbooks International) ISBN 0-87938-722-X
  • The Heavyweight Book of American Light Trucks, 1939-1966 by Tom Brownell and Don Bunn (Motorbooks International) ISBN 0-87938-289-9
  • Standard Catalog of American Light Duty Trucks Edited by John Gunnell (Krause Publications) ISBN 0-87341-238-9

Web sites :

Tips and suggestions in no particular order provided by: Spanky, 48bigtrucks, Truck Tinker, K10-Pete, Michael 'Jolly' Goodfellow, Gmc63burban, Hilander451, Glen 'Chevy1966pu' Mercer, Seon, dval, Billy 'Southernmutt33' Mason and Doug 'sixty5short.' If you'd like to see pictures and read about Woogeroo's '65 C10 lwb stepside truck, Matraca, drop by his web site .

-Woogeroo
1965 C-10 C1504 Longbed Stepside
Bolter # 1987

 

April 2005 / Update February 2007

-30-

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