What Is a Square Body Chevy Truck?

Everyone loves an old pickup truck. While new pickup trucks are divisive, and even classic muscle cars have their environmentally-minded detractors, no one can help but smile when they see an old pickup truck. One of the most popular classic pickup generations is the 1973 through 1987 Chevy or GMC C/K, trucks, often referred to simply as the square body Chevy.

What year is the square body Chevy truck?

In 1973, General Motors introduced a new no-nonsense, squared-off body design for its Chevy and GMC C/K pickup truck. Because the generations before and after were curvier, pickup fans nicknamed the 1973 through 1987 C/K the “square body Chevy.”

This is a red and black 4x4 square body Chevy truck modified with a modern V8 as a pro-touring off-roader, by Chevrolet for SEMA.
1978 Chevrolet K-series | Isaac Brekken for Chevrolet

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General Motors marketed the 1967 through 1972 generation of its half-ton truck as the “Action Line.” They have square cabs and beds, but some curves to their fender and hood shapes. They also were often painted in groovy two-tone paint jobs.

In 1988, General Motors introduced an iconic work-truck design for the fourth generation of the Chevrolet C/K and GMC truck. It features two long, narrow, rectangular headlights stacked one on top of the other. GM continued building this style through 2002. Today, classic truck fans refer to it simply as the “original body style,” often shortened to OBS.

But between these generations, GM built a unique pickup truck. The square body Chevy looks like a timeless, squared-off work truck. But it also has distinct vintage details. The first several years of the square body Chevy featured round headlights set into square recesses–similar to the “Action line.” Latery square body Chevy trucks wore stacked, rectangular headlights that would last through the OBS generation. But all the square body Chevy trucks are united by a squared-off cab and bed.

While the “Action line” era trucks command a higher resale value, many truck fans prefer the square body Chevy’s utilitarian looks. People who like square body Chevy trucks love them. Check out a country music video made by a die-hard square body Chevy fan in the video below:

What motor was in the square body Chevy?

One of the benefits of the square body Chevy truck generation was how much you could customize it. The base engine was a 250 cubic-inch I6. The largest engine available was Chevy’s 454 cubic-inch big-block V8. You could order ten engines in total, including a range of small block V8s and diesels.

Promo photo of a 4x4 1987 square body Chevy truck, driving through a construction site with yellow equipment in the background.
1987 Chevrolet K20 Scottsdale ¾-ton | General Motors

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It’s worth noting that the transmissions available in both the Chevrolet and GMC square body pickups had few gears, and wide gear ratios–by modern standards. While you can order a range of more modern transmissions for Chevrolet muscle cars, only American Powertrain offers upgraded manual and automatic transmissions for the square body Chevy truck–for now.

You could also order a square body Chevy or GMC with either a long wheelbase (LWB) and a full-size bed, or a short wheelbase (SWB) and a short bed. The latter configuration is prized by collectors looking for a lightweight muscle truck or an off-roader with a tight turning radius.

Finally, the square body Chevy truck comes with either a traditional pickup bed or a stepside bed. The stepside bed was the budget option back in the day and features a narrow bed box, protruding rear fenders, and a step between the cab and the fenders.

Watch a square body Chevy truck put through its paces in the video below:

What is a square body Chevy worth?

There’s a huge range in prices. You can still find a $5k square body Chevy if you are okay hunting for an I6 in need of restoration. A show-quality, restored square body Chevy can easily fetch $30k or much more.

Full ton yellow and black square body Chevy truck towing a livestock trailer, a farm and mountain range visible in the background.
1987 Chevrolet C30 Silverado one-ton | General Motors

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It’s worth noting that square body Chevy truck prices trail GM muscle car prices by about 33%. This means that while a V8, manual Chevy muscle car runs at least $30k, you can currently get a similar spec Chevy square body muscle truck for around $20k.

Next, find out why classic cars aren’t actually easier to work on or see find out whether a square body Chevy is actually worth buying in the video below:

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