The History of 1960 to 1965 Chevrolet Pickups

by Rob Wagner

Chevrolet abandoned 1950s styling in a big way in 1960, when it introduced the C/K series pickup trucks. The 1960 to 1965 models were leaner, more sculpted, roomier and offered more power than the previous generation. The C/K series styling was so popular that the basic design remained through the end of its production run in 1997. By 1963, one out of every three pickups was a Chevy. In 1963 alone, 483,119 Chevy trucks left the factory.

Models

The light-duty 1960 to 1965 pickups came in half-, three-quarter- and one-ton versions. The half-ton version featured a 115-inch wheelbase. The three-quarter-ton model sat on a 127-inch wheelbase and the one-ton version had a 133-inch wheelbase. The trucks featured a 6.5-foot or an 8-foot bed. The conventional 1950s throwback model was the Stepside, which had the wheels mounted outside the cargo box under protruding wheel wells, with a step placed between the cab and rear wheels. The new streamlined Fleetside version had a flat-panel bed with integral wheel wells. The "C" pickups had two-wheel drive, while "K" designated four-wheel-drive trucks.

Engine Options

Between 1960 and 1965, truck buyers could choose from up to six engines. Through 1962, the venerable 135-horsepower 235-cubic-inch in-line six-cylinder was available as the base engine. The 148-horsepower 261 straight-six was an option. In 1963, Chevy added the 140-horsepower 230 and the 165-horsepower 292 six-cylinders and dropped the 235 and 261 sixes. The optional V-8 was the 160-horsepower 283, which was the same engine that powered the Corvette. The 250-horsepower 327 V-8 also was an option in 1965.

Chassis

Chevrolet improved the C/K series' weight distribution and stability by moving the front axle rearward by almost two inches and increasing the load capacity of the front axle. Engineers reduced the pickups' height by seven inches to give it a lower center of gravity. The trucks employed an all-wheel independent suspension system. Engineers beefed up the front springs and torsion bars and added coil springs to the rear. The one-ton models kept the conventional leaf springs in the rear.

Features and Size

The early 1960s Chevy pickups featured bold, straight body lines, a cab with slight overhangs over the windshield and rear windows, headlamp bezels and an egg-crate grille. The body was a lesson in minimalist styling, with only modest touches of chrome. The half-ton pickups were 206 inches long with a front track width of 63.1 inches and the rear track measuring 61 inches wide. The half-ton rode on 6.70-by-15-inch tires on 15-inch steel wheels. Its gross vehicle weight rating was 4,600 to 5,300 lbs. The three-quarter ton models had a gross vehicle weight rating up to 5,600 lbs.

About the Author

Rob Wagner is a journalist with over 35 years experience reporting and editing for newspapers and magazines. His experience ranges from legal affairs reporting to covering the Middle East. He served stints as a newspaper and magazine editor in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Wagner attended California State University, Los Angeles, and has a degree in journalism.