1975 Chevrolet C20 Scottsdale Camper Special: Super Square Body
It seems that the so-called “Square Body” GM pickups have been gaining more and more interest from collectors. This makes me happy, as I always liked them. It seemed they were on the road for my entire childhood. And for a long time they were cheap wheels. But over the past 5–7 years I’ve been seeing more and more of them at shows and cruise nights. Some customized, some weathered survivors, and some in near time-capsule condition, like today’s example.
They had a long run. The original style appeared in 1973, got a new look in 1981 (though still recognizable as a square body), and lasted all the way to the totally redesigned C/K pickups in 1988. (The basic design still carried on a couple more years in crew cab, chassis cab, Blazer and Suburban form.) I like all of the 1973–87 pickups, but I prefer pre-1981 versions just a little more.
I finally got around to writing this story while going through my photo files for something else (a 1964 Plymouth Sport Fury coupe, if you’re curious). The first matter to attend to was, what year was it? I have a decent working knowledge of these square-body Chevy pickups; my cousin Suzy had a ’77 Bonanza as her first car.
I knew it wasn’t a ’73 because it had the checkerboard grille that first appeared in 1975. But when did the grille change again … ’76, ’77, or ’78? If we were talking Caprices or Novas or Malibus, I’d know. But trucks were a little hazy.
It was time to consult the sales brochures. I looked up the ’73–78 Chevy pickup brochures online and discovered the original ’73 grille was retained for 1974. The new grille, with eight sections across, came in ’75, and 1976 was identical, but the cool little engine badges went away that year, making today’s subject a 1975 model. Come 1977, a very similar but different grille appeared, with five sections across. It seems that even with my large cache of obscure car knowledge, I can still learn something new.
The Silverado was the top-of-the line Chevy pickup in 1975, the Broughamiest, if you will. Features included nylon cloth upholstery with vinyl trim or “buffalo hide” grained vinyl, full instrumentation set in a wood-grained panel, custom steering wheel (except 4WD pickups), large wood-grained door trim panels with map pockets, deep foam cushioned bench seat (with buckets and console available except on crew-cab models), and “deep-twist” nylon carpeting.
Outside, there was more gingerbread—as you’d expect. Bright upper and lower side and tailgate moldings, a bright tailgate trim panel, and wheel-opening moldings rounded out the Silverado’s outside looks.
At any rate, my uncle, Dave Klockau, and I spotted this primo example at the annual Nauvoo Grape Festival Car Show, held every Labor Day weekend. I love these pickups and can still remember when there were many (albeit in varying degrees of condition) on the roads of my Midwestern city.
I saw that 454 badge on the grille and immediately realized this was something special, beyond its remarkable state of preservation. At which point I began poring all over the truck, snapping picture after picture. The owner noticed my appreciation and was kind enough to fire it up so we could hear it run. It sounded terrific! Like a classic Chris-Craft or Harley. Blublublublublub. Very nice.
This truck also had the optional Camper Special package, which included heavy-duty front and rear shock absorbers, a front heavy duty stabilizer, camper body wiring, higher capacity rear springs, and cool B-pillar badges.
It was only available on V-8 C20 or C30 pickups; the four-speed manual or the Turbo Hydramatic transmission were required. Standard engines on the C20 (Chevrolet-speak for the 3/4-ton pickup; the C10 was the half-ton version) were either a one-barrel 292-cubic-inch six or the bulletproof 350 V-8 with four-barrel carb. The optional engine, which powers today’s truck, was the four-barrel 454 V-8.
As you’d expect of the 1970s, a myriad of colors were available, such as Willoway Green, Spring Green, Grecian Bronze, Skyline Blue, Hawaiian Blue, Santa Fe Tan, and Yuba Gold. Our featured vehicle is painted Rosedale Red. A much brighter Crimson Red was also available.
I can’t remember the exact flow of conversation between the owner, my uncle, and myself when we chatted at the 2019 show, but it was a largely original pickup and had been in the family since new. Apparently it had been in storage for some time, and they got it up and running with a minimum of fuss.
I haven’t seen it since, as the 2020 Nauvoo show was canceled due to … well, you know. But I hope to see it again. Soon. What a treat.