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When it comes to compact American pickup trucks, usually the first thing you think of is the Chevrolet S-10. Yes, the Ford Ranger debuted the same year as the S-10, in 1982. But the S-10 is and has been, a favorite of truck enthusiasts, especially those who like to modify their pickups. Chevy made gazillions of the first and second-generation S-10s before killing the brand in 2003. 

How versatile was the Chevrolet S-10?

Chevrolet S-10
1988 Chevrolet S-10 | GM

That’s 23 years’ worth of truck goodness. Though initially only available as a single cab, within two years an extended cab, combined with both two- and four-wheel drive. And with four-wheel drive, the S-10 came with “Insta-Trac,” which allowed owners to unlock it from the inside. Drivers could also go from 2 high to 4 high while the truck was moving. 

There were also two bed lengths, covering all of the bases. And the number of options you could get was a long list. That’s partially because a base S-10 was a pretty simple truck. It lacked power steering, power windows, and air conditioning. 

1982 Chevrolet S-10 | GM

Calling it a “quarter-ton,” the S-series came with a 2.5-liter V6 with 105 hp. By today’s standards, not that impressive, but remember, the small trucks made to that point were of Japanese origin with small inline-four engines. Back then, this was a powerful minitruck.

GMC Syclone
1991 GMC Syclone | GM

And almost every year after that saw an increase in power. From an initial 115 hp in 1985, the power hit 165 hp in 1993. And this doesn’t even factor in the iconic 1991 GMC Syclone, with almost 200 hp. But even with only 105 hp, the S-10 had a payload of 1,625 lbs. 

When did the second-gen Chevrolet S-10 debut?

1990 Chevrolet S-10 | GM

The first S-10 was a simple, basic truck, which was translated by its simple styling. Mostly flat surfaces and an absence of body details and sculpting made for a handsome truck. That would change when the new S-10 debuted in 1994.

1995 Chevrolet S-10 | GM

The second-gen S-10 featured an organic, handsomely sculpted body. But it didn’t deviate from its predecessor established. It was a solid quarter-ton pickup truck with good performance, payload, looks, and more standard features.

Like airbags. The first year of the new S-10 it came standard with a standard driver’s side airbag. Then in 1998, a passenger-side airbag was available. So safety was another aspect of the S-10 that was improved. And by 2001, a four-door version of the S-10 first appeared according to JD Power.

When did Chevrolet kill the S-10?

1999 Chevrolet S-10 | GM

In its run from 1995 through 2004, the S-10 continued its hauling and performance attributes. By 2005, Chevrolet chose to kill the S-10. But it offered an entirely new iteration of the pickup outside of North America that was built in Brazil. It ran from 2005 through today, with a couple of facelifts along the way. But the S-10, though absent for a time, morphed into the Colorado, which hit U.S. showrooms in 2014. 

And while the Chevrolet Colorado and sister GMC Canyon have a strong following, the S-10 in all its iterations, has a very strong following. The aftermarket, especially, continues to develop new and interesting components and engine swaps keeping it relevant today. 


The Original 1982 Chevy S-10 Shared Some Features With the Modern Chevy Colorado