Today we have endless choices among pickup trucks, and the luxurious options give away nothing to their car counterparts. This is a recent development. The Silverados and Lariats of the 1980s ushered in luxury features to the emerging everyday truck driving community. In the 1960s, a pickup was still a utility vehicle. Trucks were sparse and used hard. Perhaps the ones that had the toughest life of all were four-wheel drive models. Four-wheel drive was an unusual option for a pickup in the 1960s. Prior to this period, manufacturers and customers looked to independent companies like Marmon-Herrington to convert trucks to four-wheel drive. Unfortunately, many of the trucks that received this option were bought for plowing duty. At that time, most of the areas that had enough snow to warrant plows used plenty of salt to melt the ice on the roads. The salt was merciless to vehicles, and many would develop gaping holes after just a year or two. Most of these trucks have long since rotted away. This truck is a true survivor of a rare breed. This K20 four-wheel drive was set up as a plow truck from new. Luckily for the truck, it did not even complete one full season of plowing before it was mothballed. The truck has fewer than 6,000 miles and is in remarkable condition. The interior upholstery is wrapped in protective plastic from new. The body is totally rust-free and has good paintwork. Opening the hood reveals an untouched engine compartment. The specification is typical of a four-wheel drive of the era. A low-geared, 4-speed manual is fitted behind a 230-ci six — putting the truck in first evokes the feeling that a wall could be climbed or driven right through with the power at hand. This is a rare chance indeed to acquire such an unused or altered pickup from this era. The original plow frame and blade are included.  

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1964 Chevrolet K20 Pickup
Years Produced:1960–1966
Number Produced:483,853 (all 1964)
Original List Price:$2,885
SCM Valuation:$5,000–$20,000
Tune Up Cost:$200
Distributor Caps:$10
Chassis Number Location:Spot-welded plate on the driver’s side A-pillar
Engine Number Location:Passenger’s side of the block near the distributor (I6), passenger’s side of the block on the front edge of the cylinder head deck (V8)
Club Info:American Truck Historical Society P.O. Box 901611 Kansas City, MO 64190-1611
Alternatives:1960–1966 GMC K2500 ¾-ton 4x4 pickup 1960–1966 Ford F-250 ¾-ton 4x4 pickup 1957–1971 Dodge D-300 Power Wagon 1-ton 4x4 pickup
Investment Grade:C

This truck sold at no reserve for $15,210, including buyer’s premium, at Bonhams’ Fairfield County Concours auction on September 17–18, 2011, in Westport, CT.

General Motors introduced a new truck design for the 1960s. Originally, the 1960 model year Chevrolets carried on with their nomenclature, which started in 1958 using Native American names — with the light-duty trucks called Apaches.

However, due to displeasure expressed by Native Americans, Chevrolet instituted a new naming convention in 1961, which is basically still in use today. Two-wheel drives were called the C-series, while four-wheel-drive models — as Chevy started building their own 4×4 models in 1957 — were the K-series.

The half-ton models had a 10 suffix, three-quarter tons had a 20 suffix, one-tons used 30, and so forth up into the heavy-duty 90 models. As such, the ever-popular half-ton pickup became a C10, available with standard trim or a Custom trim package.

With that in mind, our featured truck is not a C20. It is actually a K20. This is also verified by the second character in the VIN. In this case, the VIN breaks down as follows: “4” for 1964 model year, “K” for four-wheel drive, “254” for three-quarter ton Fleetside (wide box) pickup truck, “T” for being built at the Tarrytown, NY, assembly plant, and finally, the 7,616th unit built at this plant, with the unit sequence number starting at 100,000.

1962 saw the introduction of a new, simpler-looking hood, and in 1964, the cab greenhouse and doors were redone to eliminate the wrap-around windshield (as that styling trend had been played out by then) and subsequent “dog-leg” in the door and door frame. This was over and above the usual annual shuffling of grilles and badges. The changes gave the trucks a less aggressive and more stylish appearance — which continued until the next generation of GM trucks for 1967.

(Gear) Teething pains in the 1960s 4×4 market

Although Chevy had been making their own 4×4 trucks since 1957 (before then, they were available as a dealer-installed conversion kit by NAPCO), by the 1960s, they were just starting to gain market acceptance. The ratio of four-wheel-drive versus two-wheel-drive pickups was extremely slim. Even after the major manufacturers all started making their own standardized 4x4s on their assembly lines, a four-wheel-drive truck was still an expensive proposition. Besides, most period buyers were of the mindset that “with four-wheel-drive, you’ll only get stuck worse.”

More often than not, buyers were commercial rather than private. Using 4x4s for snowplow duty was one thing that was easily accepted, with the manufacturers frequently at least showing examples of these trucks with a plow up front — if not offering a dedicated snowplow prep package. The more famous of these were Dodge’s Sno-Commander and International’s Sno-Star packages, offered in conjunction with plow manufacturers as a complete package, ready to bust through snowdrifts right off the showroom floor.

Now a trailer queen?

While low-mile, heavy-duty trucks from the 1960s are hardly falling out of the trees, they are not quite as rare as this one was promoted to be. The thing is, most of the low-mile trucks similar to this come generally in one color — fire-engine red.

One-ton and smaller four-wheel-drive trucks were — and are still — popular rigs for brush-fire use. Units from the 1960s are now being retired from service — although a respectable number are still in primary or stand-by use. Granted, one of these may have a pump or other service equipment built into it, but for every guy who wants a pure, clean, unmolested original low-mile 4×4, there’s another who wants a fire truck that actually fits in his suburban garage next to his wife’s Honda. The selling price for our featured truck generally falls into the range of what a retired brush rig with similar miles would bring — if not on the high end.

Although this was built to be a heavy-duty work truck, to use it like that today would destroy its value. With a well-cared-for higher-mile or driver-grade restored example, you wouldn’t think twice about running over to the Home Depot for a load of bagged peat moss. But with our featured truck, every mile put on it will slowly ratchet down its value, so you’ll probably just grab the keys for the RAV4 instead and make two runs.

Weighting all those factors in, this truck was both well bought and sold at a market price —even if it is destined to an existence of going to shows on a trailer behind a modern four-wheel-drive pickup.

(Introductory description courtesy of Bonhams.)<p

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