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It seems like OBS Chevy pickup trucks just exploded in popularity and price. The reasons are many but include their terrific styling, dependability, and prices. Equipped and functioning much like newer trucks, millions were produced. That keeps a lid on the price. When introduced in 1988 the aftermarket went nuts. And it continues to launch a steady stream of new parts for a truck that is 35 years old. 

What started the OBS Chevy truck interest?

obs chevy trucks
OBS Chevy trucks Bell Tech “splash” pickup | Facebook via Bell Tech

Customization always sparks enthusiast interest, and companies like Fresno’s Bell Tech were launched because of the GMT 400 pickups. So did magazines like Sport Truck, while Truckin’ found new relevance. All of it laid the groundwork for what we’re seeing today.

When Bell Tech started, it made a complete kit to radically modify its looks without owners paying what it would take to have a shop customize it. A combination of lowered spindles in front, and a rear-end flip kit to position the axle above the leaf springs got these suckers in the weeds. But it didn’t stop there.

OBS Chevy trucks
OBS Chevy trucks | Facebook via Bell Tech

A front bumper “mask’ smoothed up the front bumper almost instantly. In the rear, a rolled rear pan neatly cleaned off the area below the tailgate. These types of custom modifications used to cost custom prices. Not so the Bell Tech parts

And this launched the sport truck movement. Chevy and GMC were quietly watching from the sidelines. By 1990, dealers took the radical step of modifying these trucks with Bell-Tech parts, with the factory warranty. This did two things to further crank up sport trucks’ popularity.

The two reasons OBS Chevy trucks swept the country

Sport Truck cover
Sport Truck cover with Thom Taylor OBS Chevy | Facebook

Now, you didn’t defeat your factory warranty by lowering or otherwise modifying your truck. And the other advantage, maybe even more than the warranty, was you could wrap the cost and labor of the aftermarket components into the payment. So for a couple of hundred dollars more a month you instantly had the new truck of your dreams.  

Lowered Chevy and GMC short-bed trucks started showing up everywhere. Then it expanded to quad-cab and even dually truck styles. Nothing like this had ever happened so quickly and extensively. Adding custom wheels and paint further individualized the trucks if you could handle the freight and the core truck’s monthly payments. 

Ultimately newer trucks with more ways to personalize them from the factory slowed down the sport truck phenomenon. But today, new truck platforms with more complicated emissions and electronics make them less likely to be modified. They also got progressively larger, and exponentially more expensive. 

OBS Chevy trucks
OBS Chevy trucks | Facebook via Bell Tech

So many enthusiasts began looking to have a unique, cool truck that featured many of the features available today, but on the cheap. The OBS Chevy 1987 to 1998 pickup trucks fit those parameters perfectly. Surprisingly, there are a lot of these trucks floating around that have reasonable mileage and are in great condition. 

But they’re still simple enough if a DIY-er wants a project. Being classic fuel-injected Chevy small block powered, the engines are easy to work on and rebuild. They don’t take a Masters’s Degree in engineering or math to put them back together. 

And the poor reception the current GM truck designs have received made some brand-loyal GM truck enthusiasts look for alternatives. Many think the OBS Chevy trucks look a lot better, though they were developed almost 40 years ago. So there it is the background and reasons why these OBS GM trucks are starting to show up everywhere once again. But going back still further in GM truck history offers 1973 to 1986 square body pickups, and before that, the 1967 to 1972 C10s. We’ll look at those too.


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