What Do Old Chevy Truck Models Names Mean?

Last Wednesday, we talked about Curb Weight, GVWR, GCWR, GAWR, payload capacity and how “tonnage” slang terminology is not reality.  Now, let’s put all of that great knowledge to use by deciphering the name’s of old Chevy truck models and old GMC truck models.  The automotive slang is in quotes for your reference. To determine which truck you have, just look at the 5th digit of the VIN number.  This is the digit of the VIN that tells you the series of the vehicle. Interested in learning more about deciphering your vehicle’s VIN number? For Chevy and GMC full size trucks built after 1980, it will be C, K, R or V.  Oooooh, a secret code? Read on…

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Chevy C/K Trucks

C-Series Truck = 2 Wheel Drive (1960-2002)

K-Series Truck = 4 Wheel Drive (1960-2000)

C10 = “½ Ton” 2wd (1960-1987)
C20 = “3/4 ton” 2wd (1960-1988)
C30 = “1 Ton” 2wd (1960-1988)

K10 = “½ Ton” 4wd (1960-1987)
K20 = “3/4 ton” 4wd (1960-1988)
K30 = “1 Ton” 4wd (1960-1988)

C1500 = “1/2 Ton” (1988-1999)
C2500 = “3/4 Ton” (1988-2000)
C3500 = “1 Ton” (1988-2002)

K1500 = “1/2 Ton” (1988-1999)
K2500 = “3/4 Ton” (1988-2000)
K3500 = “1 Ton” (1988-2000)

Chevy R/V Trucks

R-Series Truck = 2 Wheel Drive (1987-1991)

V-Series Truck = 4 Wheel Drive (1987-1991)

R10 = “½ Ton” 2wd (1987-1988)
R20 = “3/4 ton” 2wd (1987-1988)
R30 = “1 Ton” 2wd (1987-1988)

V10 = “½ Ton” 4wd (1987-1988)
V20 = “3/4 ton” 4wd (1987-1988)
V30 = “1 Ton” 4wd (1987-1988)

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R1500 = “1/2 Ton” ( Didn’t Exist!?)
R2500 = “3/4 Ton” (1989)
R3500 = “1 Ton” (1989-1991)

V1500 = “1/2 Ton” (Didn’t Exist!?)
V2500 = “3/4 Ton” (1989)
V3500 = “1 Ton” (1988-1991)

Let’s see examples!

Imagine you have a truck with VIN #:

1GCDC14H3G… = 1986 Chevy C10 (2wd, 1/2 ton)

2GCEK19K0J… = 1988 Chevy K1500 (4wd, 1/2 ton)

1GCHR33N7J… = 1988 Chevy R3500 (2wd, 1 ton)

Fun stuff, right?

Related Content

Now that you understand old Chevy truck models’ names, check out this great read about what the letter in GM’s body styles mean.

Ford also has a model naming convention that you can learn more about! Check out our article on Ford truck names.

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47 thoughts to “What Do Old Chevy Truck Models Names Mean?”

  1. I can’t wait for when you do 1980s Toyotas…
    Toyota Pickup= 1/4 ton
    Toyota Pickup= 1/2 ton
    Toyota Pickup= 3/4 ton
    Toyota Pickup= 1 ton

    1. Hi!
      I’m surprised that it says that on your title, and not “K10”, but it does have meaning.

      K14 = regular cab
      K19 = extended cab

      So it sounds like you have a 4 wheel drive, regular cab truck.

      Hopefully that helps!

    2. Ever get a response for this? My truck is known to all as a k10but according to the vin it defaults to a k14 and that’s what is on my registration….
      (86 1/2 ton long bed 4wd)
      Thanx in advance

      1. I have a title that says the Base year is 2006 but for the’year’ it says 95. My question is what’s the difference? And it’s a Chevy body type, PK and model is GC2 what’s the abbreviations stand for?

    1. I think I have 1980-89 chevy silverado 2 door stepside longbed 2wd I think the engine is a 305ci is it rare or any body have pics so i know that’s what it is on the fender emblem it says silverado 20

      1. Depending on what year it is and the 305 was a tiny little motor they should have never put in these things , also depends on if the body gas rust if it’s actually worth anything. If not sell to someone who will rebuild it or part it out yourself

  2. Hi can you help with finding what truck I have 1GCDC14K9 thanks for any help!!! I know it’s an ’89 2wd standard cab short bed was stepside factory,just not sure on the r/v part of it trying to put newer style grill ’92-’94 style but they said it’s r/v and it’s different thanks again.

  3. How do I know what my Chevrolet k10 is? I was looking at emblems, and there is scottsdale, silverado, etc…how do I know which mine is?

    1. The k series is 4wd the Scottsdale is 2nd in line trim package the silverado is 3rd line and it is the best trim package

      1. I have a 91 Chevrolet K1500 with no body moldings and the emblems are missing. It is factory 4.3 with a 700 r4 transmission. How do I find out what style the truck is

  4. I have a 1986 4×4 sierra classic with a 350ci engine…auto parts stores ask if it’s “L” or “M”…..how can I tell which?

    1. There most likely referring to the engine code. L is a regular 350ci and M is a 350ci HD. The 8th digit in the vin is the engine code. I will let a secret out if you go to LMCtruck.com they have parts for lots of trucks on there online and mailed catalogs a few pages in the catalog there is a vin decoder it tells you almost anything you need to know.

  5. I also have a question. I have two identical trucks, both 1995 Chevy half ton 4×4 w/t series. One has GMT-400 on the title, and one says GK1. There is no difference in these trucks except one has cruise, one doesn’t. I cannot find the meaning of GK1 anywhere. Any help is appreciated. Thanks

  6. Hi does anyone know this? I have a 4×4 suburban 98. According to the VIN the 4th digit is a C. So it’s a 4×2 pickup? Is this correct? I bought this vehicle from an auction just trying to figure out what’s up with that.

  7. my 1996 chevy truck say the model is a EC14 what does that mean I’m trying to find parts for it and cant because they don’t have the option for EC14 for the model

    1. Hi Ashley! If you have a method of sharing a picture of your truck, or your VIN, I could probably tell you what it is. If not – In 1996, you’re truck has to be a C series (2 wheel drive), or a K series (4 wheel drive). Look at the 5th digit of the VIN and it will tell you which you have. Then you just need to know whether it is a 1500/2500/3500, which it probably says on the side of the truck. If not, you can look at the wheels. If you have 5 bolts on your wheels, you have a 1500 series. If you have 8 lug wheels you have a 2500 or 3500.

      Hope that helps a bit!

    1. Those are both trim packages, which wouldn’t be specified in the VIN. It may be in the option list, which is likely found on a sticker in the glove box. However, you would also need to find the document which tells you what all of those different option codes mean. Sadly, I don’t have that. The trims at that time were usually not much more than decals and plastic trim down the body, so with a little effort, you could turn the truck into whatever trim package you wanted. Good luck in your search!

    1. Hi Douglas – That’s because yours is a GMC, instead of a Chevy. They had slightly different naming. GMC’s had K2500’s from the 1960’s (I believe) right up through 2000. The general guidelines still apply though. Yours should be a 3/4 ton truck that is 4 wheel drive, right? Sure sounds like an awesome truck to me.

  8. Hey I have a 1997 Chevy Cheyenne with the vin R the GVRW 6200/2812 it’s got the 5.7 vortex I got the king cab and it’s not a three door model. It’s got the long bench seats. Ps it 2wd. I might have a unicorn on my hands.

  9. I looked again an the vin number after the R and it’s 3? The side decals says it’s 1500 but you website states that the 3 means 3500. The truck exist so please don’t think I messing with ya. I’m the third owner to it.

    1. Hi Tony! That sounds like an awesome truck you have there. By 1997, the trucks were on the GMT400 platform, and the C (2 wheel drive) & K (4 wheel drive) chassis designations were being used again. The fifth digit of your VIN should be a C, which means it is a 2wd truck. The sixth digit is probably a 3, for 3500. I’m not sure what the GCI on the title means, but maybe it was a government/fleet vehicle of some sort? I’m not sure that helps at all, but regardless of what the VIN says, I think your truck sounds pretty rad, and would make a great project vehicle!

  10. I have 1988 GMC 1ton crew cab dually. What series is this truck? I’m trying to order interior parts for it online and get lost in the all the K, R and V sub models…. hep!!!

  11. I’d like to add here because I’ve been a GMT400 and a Squarebody Owner. I owned a V1500 GMC, both R1500, V1500, and their 3/4 ton counterparts only existed as the truck wagon (Suburban) from ‘87-‘91. GM switched the truck wagon and 1T chassis to the GMT400 Platform in 1992 with the pickups and the R/V series went away along with it.

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