1978 Chevrolet C20 Custom Deluxe 4x2 5.7 liter push-rod 350 from North America
Who cares about smoothness and refinement? These old tanks are the real deal
Nothing ever went wrong with this truck until my father, who bought it in 1997 as a farm truck, quit farming. At that point, he quit using it and let it sit for one year under a tree. After that year, it developed some problems due to being neglected. The brakes had to have just a little bit of work and the spark plugs and battery had to be replaced.
About a month later, the push-rod fuel pump quit working so my father left it by a barn where it had stopped (July 2002). He doesn't like working on vehicles and since he didn't need it that badly at that point; he allowed it to sit by the barn untouched for three years and 1 month. In August of 2005, he gave it to me as a project.
A new fuel pump cost me $14.00 and took about thirty minutes to install. After that, the engine fired right up. Even after sitting there for all that time.
Due to it being 27 years old and completely ignored for so long, several things had to be replaced.
The radiator had a hole and had to be replaced.
The gas tank and sending unit were completely flaked over, no longer giving me a fuel level reading, and had to be replaced.
The rear shock absorbers were discharged of pressure and had to be replaced.
The fuel filter was clogged due to the rust in the tank and had to be replaced.
The muffler had holes in it and had to be replaced.
I have been fixing this truck up and trying to get it into better condition so there are many things I've replaced by choice, but didn't necessarily have to.
I put new front wheel wells and fenders on it.
I put drop-in floor pans to go over the old floor.
I put in repair rocker panels and cab corners to restore rust damage on cab.
I put a new bumper hitch on the rear of it.
I've thrown the bedsides away and am trying to find some used ones to replace them.
I replaced all marker and signal light bulbs.
I replaced the coil, distributor cap/rotor, coil wires, and spark plugs.
I replaced the air filter.
I replaced the valve cover gaskets.
I put a seat cover over the bench seat.
I am currently needing to replace the printed circuitry behind the instrument cluster. The copper is corroding and some of the gauges are not reporting information.
When my father bought this truck in 1997, he only paid $1000.00 for it. He drove this truck about every day of the week. Most of the time he hauled two large round bails of hay in its bed over a 20 mile distance about daily.
If his cars ever gave him problems, he would use the C20 as his transportation vehicle. Gas was about $1.20 a gallon then.
The previous owner (s) and he never washed the truck. Mud and cow "dooky" caked up in areas under this truck and stayed causing those well known rust holes over the wheels that are common with these older models. Sheet metal wasn't the best back then.
This truck came equipped with:
- heavy-duty front coils.
- heavy-duty shock absorbers.
- nine leaf springs over each back wheel.
- heavy-duty axle assembly.
- heavy-duty brakes (extra large rear drums and large front discs)
- heavy-duty three speed automatic transmission (unfortunately no overdrive)
- those nice heavy steel control arms and cross-member mount that all of those c/k series Chevy's had back then. You just can't break those old suspensions very easily.
My father never had a single problem out of this truck until he quit using it. There was no load too heavy that this thing couldn't take on. He recalls hauling a 4000lbs load of tobacco bails to the local warehouse. With all that weight in the bed, the frame still didn't sit on the axles. We've never been able to max the payload to the point that the frame squatted on the axles.
It never had a problem pulling anything we could hook to the back of it. The only disadvantage is it being a two-wheel-drive only system. It will get stuck easily with the base-type tires on it. I really need to get some mud tires on it.
My father also pulled an 8000lbs fertilizer buggy a few times with it. Other than spinning tires up a gravel hill, the truck suspension and drive-train had no problems handling the load. Really, it's probably rated to handle a few more thousand pounds than that.
Parts are dirt cheap on these trucks and the lack of needless bells and whistles makes it easy to work on. These old 350's are hard to break. If you need a simple and down-to-earth work truck, these old dogs are the way to go.
I still see dozens of these 70's model trucks on the road, not to mention the slew of 80's models that are everywhere. I still drive this truck weekly and the engine gives me no problems. The transmission is as good as it ever was.
It rides rough. Who cares? It's a heavy-duty truck. I run 65mph in it. The lack of an over-drive, the four-barrel carburetor, and the "tank-ish" weight of this thing makes it a gas guzzler, but if you want the work to get done, it's going to take some fuel. (93 octane to be exact)
It's hard to be exact on this trucks mileage because the odometer is only a five digit. There's no real way to tell how many times it has rolled over to 00000.0 miles. I assume it has only 140,000+ miles on it, but one has to remember that many of those miles are traveled over farm land which is much harder on a vehicle than pavement.
I'm glad I have this truck. It contains a lot of childhood memories for me. It has an outstanding track-record with our family. It came from the glory days of old pickups. It was a real shame for it to just sit and fall apart for all of those years, but it would be an even bigger shame for it to still be sitting there.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 5th January, 2007
Nice review and I enjoyed reading about your truck, thanks.
I am the poster of the original review. I was reminiscing with my father about my old truck and all the things he had done with it, he said that he actually pulled 12,000 lbs (6 tons) of fertilizer with it, instead of 8000 lbs.