81 Chevy C10 Specs

by Tom Lutzenberger

The 1981 Chevrolet C-10 truck was part of a line of C- and K-series trucks produced by the carmaker for decades. The truck came in a number of variations with different engine options for consumers to purchase.

Engine Features

The C-10 engine came with a small block, 5.0-liter engine built with an 8-cylinder design. The engine compression was notable for the time, measuring in at 9.2:1. Eight different V-8 engines were offered in the C and K series truck lineup by 1981.

The diesel engine option was only available in a C-10 and no other Chevy truck model in 1981. The diesel package included a 6.2-liter 379 engine that was matched to a four-speed manual transmission with an overdrive feature.

Paired to the C-10 engine was a four-barrel carburetor and the package came with electronic spark control for efficient combustion and correct timing. This boosted the engine power even more with the correct firing every cycle.

The low-end engine model came as a 305 cubic inch model V8 while the upper range was a 350 cubic inch V8. The 400 cubic inch engine from previous years was discontinued in 1981.


The manual transmission offered a four-speed package with overdrive. The automatic version was a three-speed design.

The 1981 truck body on the C-10 was lighter than its predecessors, trimming off between 115 to 309 pounds, depending on which model package was used for comparison.

The internal driver's panel display was entirely redesigned with new dials and shaping as well.

The front body included new grill work and the headlights were square rather than the 1960s-style round units. The hood was redesigned into a two-part unit, which also required the hood hinges to be changed out as well.

The fuel tank was relocated to the driver's side of the truck, parallel to the frame but still on the outside rather than covered up by the frame body, as is the case in later truck models.

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