53 - 1964 Chevrolet C20 Pickup in Colorado junkyard - Photo by Murilee Martin

  • 53 – 1964 Chevrolet C20 Pickup in Colorado junkyard – Photo by Murilee Martin

53 - 1964 Chevrolet C20 Pickup in Colorado junkyard - Photo by Murilee Martin
36 - 1964 Chevrolet C20 Pickup in Colorado junkyard - Photo by Murilee Martin
61 - 1964 Chevrolet C20 Pickup in Colorado junkyard - Photo by Murilee Martin
05 - 1964 Chevrolet C20 Pickup in Colorado junkyard - Photo by Murilee Martin
28 - 1964 Chevrolet C20 Pickup in Colorado junkyard - Photo by Murilee Martin
56 - 1964 Chevrolet C20 Pickup in Colorado junkyard - Photo by Murilee Martin
13 - 1964 Chevrolet C20 Pickup in Colorado junkyard - Photo by Murilee Martin
06 - 1964 Chevrolet C20 Pickup in Colorado junkyard - Photo by Murilee Martin
47 - 1964 Chevrolet C20 Pickup in Colorado junkyard - Photo by Murilee Martin
10 - 1964 Chevrolet C20 Pickup in Colorado junkyard - Photo by Murilee Martin
11 - 1964 Chevrolet C20 Pickup in Colorado junkyard - Photo by Murilee Martin
25 - 1964 Chevrolet C20 Pickup in Colorado junkyard - Photo by Murilee Martin
29 - 1964 Chevrolet C20 Pickup in Colorado junkyard - Photo by Murilee Martin
32 - 1964 Chevrolet C20 Pickup in Colorado junkyard - Photo by Murilee Martin
34 - 1964 Chevrolet C20 Pickup in Colorado junkyard - Photo by Murilee Martin
38 - 1964 Chevrolet C20 Pickup in Colorado junkyard - Photo by Murilee Martin
39 - 1964 Chevrolet C20 Pickup in Colorado junkyard - Photo by Murilee Martin
40 - 1964 Chevrolet C20 Pickup in Colorado junkyard - Photo by Murilee Martin
41 - 1964 Chevrolet C20 Pickup in Colorado junkyard - Photo by Murilee Martin
45 - 1964 Chevrolet C20 Pickup in Colorado junkyard - Photo by Murilee Martin
49 - 1964 Chevrolet C20 Pickup in Colorado junkyard - Photo by Murilee Martin
50 - 1964 Chevrolet C20 Pickup in Colorado junkyard - Photo by Murilee Martin
99 - 1964 Chevrolet C20 Pickup in Colorado junkyard - Photo by Murilee Martin
57 - 1964 Chevrolet C20 Pickup in Colorado junkyard - Photo by Murilee Martin
66 - 1964 Chevrolet C20 Pickup in Colorado junkyard - Photo by Murilee Martin
59 - 1964 Chevrolet C20 Pickup in Colorado junkyard - Photo by Murilee Martin
63 - 1964 Chevrolet C20 Pickup in Colorado junkyard - Photo by Murilee Martin
19 - 1964 Chevrolet C20 Pickup in Colorado junkyard - Photo by Murilee Martin
20 - 1964 Chevrolet C20 Pickup in Colorado junkyard - Photo by Murilee Martin

Back in the middle 1960s, when pickups weren’t used (much) as suburban commuters, Detroit (and the other Midwestern automakers) offered a huge selection of tough and not-at-all-luxurious trucks in the half-ton-through-one-ton range. Ford had the F-Series, Chrysler had the Dodge D-Series, International Harvester had the A Line, Jeep had the Gladiator, and GM had the Chevrolet/GMC C-Series. Here’s an example of The General’s three-quarter-ton pickup for 1964, found in a yard near Denver, Colo., after a 58-year career.

The build tag shows that it’s a 127-inch wheelbase model with 8-foot bed and the “Cab with Custom Options” such as “full-depth foam cushion” seat, passenger-side door lock, a driver’s armrest and a cigarette lighter. That option package maxed out the comfort in this truck’s cab.

A person who had only been inside 21st-century Chevrolet pickups would find this allegedly upgraded cab intolerably cramped, noisy and harsh, even in perfect original condition. Truck owners were made of tougher stuff in 1964.

I was puzzled about these “U.9000” stickers, which were decorated with pinstripe stickers to make them look nicer. Turns out the State of Utah (next door to Colorado) once required commercial light trucks to display such labels to indicate weight capacity. U.6000 stickers went on half-ton trucks, while this type went on the three-quarter-tonners. This regulation was in effect from the 1960s through the 1980s. You can still buy these stickers as new old stock today.

Capitol Chevrolet was located on the site of the old Botterill Hudson Essex dealership in downtown Denver, just a block from the state capitol. It appears to have closed down (or moved a few miles south on Broadway and undergone a name change) at some point around 1967.

So it spent some (and probably most) of its life as a work truck. The odometer shows 8,813 miles, but I’d wager that the true mileage is more like 808,813 miles.

As switches and controls failed, they were replaced with whatever happened to be on hand in the shop that day.

The chances that a truck like this would still have the original engine are about nil. There’s a Goodwrench 350 small-block crate engine under the hood now, and it’s likely the fifth or sixth powerplant that has lived in this engine bay. Since it’s not a Mr. Goodwrench engine, it was built after GM dropped the honorific in 1997. In 2010, the Goodwrench name got axed and became GM Certified Service.

The build tag doesn’t specify the original engine that lived here when LBJ was in the White House, but it could have been one of two high-torque straight-sixes (the base engine was a 230-cubic-inch version with 220 pound-feet, and the optional six was a 292 with 275 pound-feet) or a 283-cubic-inch small-block V8.

The transmission is a four-on-the-floor manual, which was standard equipment on the one-ton C30, but an extra-cost item in the C20 (which had a three-on-the-tree column-shift manual as base equipment). A two-speed Powerglide automatic was available as well. There’s a lot of Mountain West history in this truck.

It was a hard-working truck and certainly earned its keep over the decades. The MSRP for a 1964 C20 with eight-foot Fleetside bed was $2,208, which amounts to about $21,170 in 2022 dollars. That’s a steal, and GM sold better than a half-million C-Series trucks for the 1964 model year.

Riveted-on stainless steel patches last a lot longer than body filler for rust repairs, though eventually the rot spread beyond this patch.

At some point, it got a camper shell of reasonably modern vintage.

The cab has some 3″ speakers in handmade plywood cases. Just the thing for those long drives on lonely Utah highways.

It appears that this truck’s final owner lived in it for a while.

Sometimes junkyard stories have sadder-than-usual endings.

It’s Hoss Cartwright pitching the whole “Shivvy” truck line for ’64, from the Corvair through the cab-over. They’re rarin’ to go to work for you!

Yessir, Chevy’s made a whole passel of improvements.

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