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How to Restore Your Chevy Truck: 1967-1972

How to Restore Your Chevy Truck: 1967-1972

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How to Restore Your Chevy Truck: 1967-1972

598 pagine
4 ore
Apr 15, 2020


Learn to fully repair and restore Chevrolet’s most popular truck in this long-awaited new restoration guide.

When Chevy released its second-generation C/K pickup trucks, dubbed the "Action Line," it was apparent that many changes over the previous generation had been employed. Not only did the truck have a simpler, more clean-cut look but this was also the beginning of an era where modern creature comforts that we often take for granted started appearing in the good old Chevy workhorse. Power steering, power brakes, more-powerful engines, a smoother-riding coil rear suspension, automatic transmissions, and independent front suspension all led to what was the most drivable of any Chevy trucks to this point. Back then and today, this generation of Chevy truck is almost universally considered the most popular. Aftermarket parts availability and auction prices support that assertion.

In How to Restore Your Chevy Truck: 1967-1972, veteran author Kevin Whipps shows you how to inspect, assess, and accurately budget your restoration project. You are then taken through each major portion of truck restoration, including the engine, suspension, chassis, bodywork, paint, brakes, steering, transmission, driveline, electrical system, interior, and more. Each section shows practical, real-world repair and restoration in general and step-by-step formats. After all of these years of hard use and exposure to harsh conditions, most of these trucks are in need of some serious work.

Chevy/GMC trucks are extremely popular as stock restorations, fast street trucks, and off-road trucks. But before you can build a specialty truck, you need to have a solid, reliable, restored truck. This book provides the invaluable information and step-by-step instruction to return these trucks to their original glory.

Apr 15, 2020

Informazioni sull'autore

Author Kevin Whipps has a diverse and varied work history, but he is a car and truck guy at heart. As a freelance writer based in Scottsdale, Arizona, Whipps has written for a wide range of motorsports magazines and websites including Classic Trucks, Diesel World, Euro Tuner, Game, Lowrider, Muscle Car Power, Sport Truck, Street Trucks, Super Street, Ten Trucks, and Truckin’.

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How to Restore Your Chevy Truck - Kevin Whipps



This is the second time I’ve written this book.

Okay, that’s not entirely correct. It’s kind of the third. I should probably explain.

A few years back, CarTech approached me to write this book, and I signed a contract to do so. And after producing roughly half of it, I hit a wall: I had no more contacts to reach out to, no more places to go, and no trucks to photograph. After struggling with it for a bit, I spoke to my editor and we decided to shift directions. I would write How to Restore Your Chevy Truck: 1973–1987, which is exactly what I did.

But when it was all done, I felt a little bit differently about the 1967–1972 book. By then I had tons of contacts, plus there was all the work I had done already, and it’s not like any of that was wasted time. And then there’s the other thing: I love these trucks.

I’ve owned quite a few Chevys in my day—not as many as some of my friends, but a bunch nonetheless. And one of the ones that got away was my 1969 C10 long-bed. It was the original reddish orange with a three-on-the-tree transmission that was routed backward, and it would never pass emissions. But I remember laying on the street with my neighbor, Crazy-Eyed Phil (it’s a long story), tearing it down and figuring it out. I loved that truck, but since I needed a driver and it was never going to be that with the money and time I had back then, I traded it off for another vehicle. I’ve regretted it ever since.

Because of that, 1967–1972 trucks are always in my radar. I check Craigslist for listings all the time, just to see what kind of options are out there. These trucks are popular. There was a period in the mid-aughts where everyone I knew was snatching them up to turn them into some kind of project, and a few of my buddies have even started businesses based on that bodystyle alone. As a result, the trucks became expensive, which put them out of reach for all but a few.

That’s how it was for a few years, but then things started to shift. The trend moved slightly toward the squarebody trucks, the 1973–1987s. Prices on the 1967–1972s were and are still competitive, but not quite at the exorbitant rates that they were back in 2006.

Now that’s not to say that they’re cheap. Around my parts (Arizona), finding a short-bed in any kind of decent shape for under $5,000 is like finding a unicorn with hen’s teeth. People who are selling these trucks tend to know what they have and price them accordingly. And the ones that are affordable get swept up quickly by guys like me who know a steal when they see it. The point is that if you want one of these trucks, you’re either going to need a bit more cash to start, or you’re going to have to adjust your expectations.

So why would you put yourself through the drama then? After all, if you can’t get these trucks without breaking the bank, why would you do it?

Oh man, there are so many reasons.

Well first off, it may not be that bad for you, depending on your situation. Let’s go back to the idea of adjusting your expectations. Having a factory short-bed truck is nice. But the fact is that they’re getting harder and harder to find. However, if you’ve picked up this book, then you’re going to be tearing into a truck anyway. Why not buy a long-bed and turn it into a shorty? The thing is that it’s not that difficult to do with a long-bed in decent shape. And if it’s not—or you don’t want to tackle the metalwork—then you can buy entire reproduction beds for anywhere from $1,500 on up. And if you saved money on the truck because it was a long-bed, then you’re ahead of the game.

Second, these trucks are undeniably cool. And because of their relative scarcity, if you’ve ever had one of them on your bucket list to build, then you might want to do it now. It’s been more than 50 years since the bodystyle was introduced, and they ain’t making any more of them. Get in on the look now while you can, or you might regret it later.

But the most important reason is that an argument can be made that these trucks are the holy grail of Chevy trucks. The 1947–1955 (1st series) long held the crown, and although the 1955–1959s are cool (and I’m partial to the 1973–1987s), everyone wants a 1967–1972. And if you want to whittle it down even further, they all want a 1967 with the big back window, usually in blue (or maybe orange).

But it all starts right here with this book, and I thank you for picking it up. Inside you’re going to find all the answers you need for starting your next big project and turning it into the one of your dreams. There’s a lot of info in here for sure, and it’s very much focused on the restoration process, complete with step-by-step projects that will walk you through every part. It’s the kind of in-depth guide that you won’t find anywhere else, and that’s cool.

As for me, I have yet to find my perfect 1967 short-bed, big back window truck, but I have my eyes on a 1968 stepside that would be pretty cool. Or maybe I’ll pick up that relatively cheap 1970 that I found on Craigslist the other day—or convince my neighbor to sell his 1967 long-bed.

Whichever one I choose, this time I won’t let it get away.



The Chevrolet truck restoration market has always been popular, but the model years that are in vogue tend to cycle up and down based on both price and availability. Throughout decades of this happening, one generation of truck has consistently stayed on the top of the heap: the 1967–1972 Chevrolet C10.


Why this particular model? Maybe it’s the year range and its proximity to the muscle car era. Possibly it’s the overall looks and styling, which even recent generations have tried to emulate. One could argue it’s a combination of those two, as well as the other X factor: coolness.

This 1971 Cheyenne Super is a great example of a nice original truck. The interior, badging, trim, and color are all desirable and serve as an inspiration for any restorer. If you’re looking for a goal, this could be it. (Photo Courtesy National Parts Depot)

Visually, the model years all share the same basic shape with slight visual differences between each year. Overall, they can be grouped into two-year increments: 1967–1968, 1969–1970, and 1971–1972.

The year 1967 was the introduction of the truck, and with it came a distinctive slanted hood, large grille openings, and—the defining characteristic to many people—no sidemarker or parking lenses in the fenders or bed. Although a large back window was an option (called a panoramic window—in case you’re looking on service parts identification labels [SPIDs]), many of these trucks came with a smaller back window, so hunters of true 1967 models should keep an eye out for this detail first. Stepside models came with wooden bed floors and the fleetsides had steel, although a wood bed floor was an option. The highest model available at the time was the CST, which added polished trim across the lower body lines. These trucks also came standard with a 250-ci six-cylinder or a 283-ci V-8, although a 292 six and 327 V-8 were available options.

The 1968 model eliminated the small back window option but for the most part is visually identical to the 1967. This is also the first year that sidemarker lenses were integrated into the fenders, although they weren’t lights at the time, just reflectors. The side moldings and trim had a few variations, including a top trim similar to the one along the lower panels. From an engine perspective, the 283 was replaced by a 307 V-8, and there was also a 396-ci V-8 as an option.

The front clip on this particular truck is from a 1967 model, and it shows off the one thing that stands out between a 1967 and 1968 model: the lack of sidemarkers. Only in 1967 did the fenders come without those lenses, and in 1968 that changed. Also notice the slanted hood, which changed in 1969. (Photo Courtesy Mark Burdo)

The panoramic window shown here on a 1968 C10 was standard in 1968 forward, but in 1967 it was just an option.

Here you can see the sidemarker lenses on the fenders on this 1968 C10.

The way the front clip changed in 1969 set the standard for the rest of the bodystyle. The grille now was different, as was the hood, which now had a much more vertical stance. Every truck from here on out for this generation had that same hood line.

In 1969, the front end changed with a new front grille and hood. Although both are similar to the 1967 and 1968 models, the bar in the center of the 1969 model is much taller; it incorporates a pair of lenses for the turn signals in that middle portion (instead of inside the vent areas, as were found in the 1967 and 1968s). The hood also had a much more upright stance in the front, and now displayed a Chevrolet bow tie instead of the word Chevrolet spelled out. The sidemarker lenses in the truck are also now functioning lights instead of reflectors. Trim wise, there were woodgrain and moldings as options. The only other major change was a switch to a foot-operated parking brake, as the previous two model years had one operated by hand, located under the dash.

The 1970 C10s have the same sheet metal and appearance as the 1969, including the grille. However, the grille looks slightly dissimilar from the 1969 because it was painted differently, giving it a more egg crate appearance. The 396 V-8 was replaced with a model touted as a 400, but it was technically a 402 V-8. The only other notable change was an optional tilt steering wheel.

One interesting note about the 1971 model trucks: The rearview mirror mount was different than any other year, including 1972. Previously, the headliner was smooth with three holes used for mounting the rearview mirror. But in 1971, there was a bump-out in the metal for that same mount. If you want a 1971, keep an eye out for that detail.

Notice that screw hole by the wing window? This is another year-specific thing that’s only found on 1972 truck doors. It’s there to stabilize the wing window, but it can also be used to help identify the truck as a 1972.

The year 1971 brought in the most visually distinctive front-end change to the trucks with the elimination of the center bar in the grille that was replaced by a full egg-crate style. The bow tie on the hood was also moved to the grille. The upper-end trim level was the CST in prior years, and it is referred to as a Cheyenne in the 1971 and 1972 models. The biggest performance improvement was the addition of disc brakes as opposed to the drum brakes found prior. This also brought five-lug wheels to the two-wheel-drive C10 (previously they were six lug), and that can be another identifier when looking for the year of a project. Two other small notes: 1971 and 1972 rear axles and front track width are 1½ inches wider than in previous years, and 1971 cabs have a bump for the roof-mounted rearview mirror. It’s the only year with that bump.

Finally, the bodystyle changed very little in 1972. The grille now had a black line running around its perimeter, and the interior mirror was glued to the windshield as opposed to being bolted to the roof. There’s one other interesting difference: Inside the doors, just under the wing windows, sits a single countersunk screw. It’s only found on 1972 doors, and it affects the window regulators as well. Otherwise, the 1971 and 1972 are so similar they could be confused as identical.

How to Spot a Fake

These trucks have been around for more than 45 years now, which means that they’ve been rebuilt, restored, rehashed, and torn apart a million times by thousands of people. And since so many models are considered desirable over others, and because the body parts swap out so easily, there are more than a few fake models out in the wild. For those looking for the real deal, it’s important to be able to sort out the wheat from the chaff.

If you have the ability to do so, look at the frame for the VIN. There are two spots where you can check, both of them on the topside. The first is on the driver’s side of the frame, forward of the crossmember, near the steering box. (Photo Courtesy Ronnie Wetch)

If you want to get started, the most straightforward method is to look at the vehicle identification number (VIN) located in the driver’s doorjamb or the SPID on the glove box door and decode it to figure out what the truck originally had. If there are any discrepancies between what the VIN says and what’s visible (or between the SPID and what’s on the truck), walk away. That truck is not what its owner is claiming it to be.

The second spot to check for a VIN is under the cab between the two mounts also on the top of the frame. This is harder to see with the cab on, but one trick is to use your smartphone’s selfie camera and hold it against the bottom of the cab, looking at the VIN. Then you can see what you’re shooting as you go. (Photo Courtesy Ronnie Wetch)

With the VIN, you can learn a lot about the truck. If it’s obviously a four-wheel-drive truck with a solid front axle but the cab’s VIN starts with a C, then you have a problem. If it’s running a V-8 and the second digit is an S, then the motor has been replaced, and so on. Chances are pretty good that the first four digits of your desired VIN start with CE14 or CS14.

Another place to look is in the glove box. On the inside of the glove box door, there is a sticker labeled as the SPID. It has the VIN on it also. There’s another thing to look for there, and that’s the model number. It’s first in the options list.

Since the long-bed to short-bed conversion is quite popular, the next place you should look is the frame, both forward of the front suspension mounts and behind the axle. Look for signs of welding or cutting, or possibly gussets on the inside of the frame, since it’s a C-channel design. You can look in similar areas on the inside of the bed as well. Most of the time the cuts are made just forward of the rear cab mount. For more information on that, check out chapter 12.

As for sheet metal changes—times when a previous owner swapped out damaged metal for new—the idea is to tap on the metal with your knuckles. Listen for tone changes, which often indicate where there’s body filler under the paint; filler makes a more solid sound, as opposed to the hollow noise of standard sheet metal. Another good idea is to look at the underside of the fenders and inspect for overspray or other signs of previous bodywork. Pay particular attention to the area around the marker lenses if you’re hunting for a 1967, as some sellers will either swap the fenders or weld them up entirely on a 1968, just to get the extra money.

Here’s an SPID from a Chevy truck. From this, we can determine that it’s specifically a 1971 3/4-ton pickup with a V-8 (a 400-ci engine as denoted lower on the sticker). If you look at the model number, you’ll also see that it’s a 133-inch Longhorn or 9-foot Stepside too. Based on the Z81 option, the likely guess is Longhorn.

This SPID is from a 1972 1/2-ton Chevy, and that’s obvious by CC at the leading edge. If it was a 1972 GMC, it would start with TC. The model number also tells us that it’s a long-bed fleetside.

What Kind of Truck Do You Want?

With all that knowledge of what kind of trucks are out there, now it’s time to figure out what you want for your project. The common choice for most people is a standard-cab short-bed truck, but there’s definitely a scene for long-bed fans, just like there is for people rebuilding the 3/4- and 1-tons. So don’t be afraid to check out a bunch of different options because who knows? You just might find the perfect truck for you.

All that said, if you want to narrow down your choices a little bit, you can do so pretty quickly. First, do you want a short-bed or a long-bed truck? Then, with that answered, now you should ask yourself if you want a fleetside or a stepside.

This begs the question, Why those two? The obvious answer is that it’s an easy way to whittle down your options. From 1967 to 1972, Chevy produced a tick over 480,000 short-bed trucks. In the same time period, they made a little more than 1.4 million long-bed trucks, which means there’s approximately a 3:1 ratio of long-beds to short-beds out there. The split between fleetside and stepside is about even in the short-bed styles, but in long-beds, there were 83,000 stepsides produced and 1.35 million fleetsides in that same range. Basically, if you’re hunting for a long-bed stepside, you’re looking for the proverbial unicorn.

Complicating things further are other variations in the lineup. A C10 is a 1/2-ton pickup, and it’s generally what a lot of people want to buy. But once you get into the market, you’ll find that there are a ton of C20s out there, which are 3/4-tons and usually long-beds. And if you’re into 4x4s, then you want a K designation, not a C, and K10s and K20s are what you’re looking for. Anything with a 30 designation is a 1-ton truck, so those are C30s and K30s, and they also have dual rear wheels.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a Chevy or a GMC, all of the same questions apply: what kind of truck do you want to build?

Our cover truck started life as a GMC. It may look rough, but the body was relatively straight, free of rust, and, being from Arizona, had seen a dry environment most of its life, making it a perfect project at an affordable price. (Photo Courtesy Mark Burdo)

Then there’s the issue of the year of the truck. As covered earlier, these trucks come in pairs: 1967–1968, 1969–1970, and 1971–1972. Each pair has a general style, which is then narrowed down further with other options. A lot of it comes down to personal style and preference, but year wise, the preferred one tends to be the 1967 short-bed fleetside, sometimes referred to as a short/wide. Although the 1967 and 1968 is almost identical, the main difference is the fender-mounted sidemarker lights in the 1968. You can modify 1968 fenders to look like a 1967—or just buy 1967 fenders at a junkyard—but that will be the main thing that separates the two models. People prefer that look because of the more angular front hood, as well as the clean-looking front grille and fenders.

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