The 1981 Chevy C20 pickup was similar to the 1980 model, with revised styling on the front end. It was part of Chevrolet's C Series line of full-size trucks, which also included the 1/2-ton C10 and the 1-ton C30. The 3/4-ton C20 was available with a range of six-cylinder and V-8 engines and in standard cab, Bonus Cab and Crew Cab configurations. Bonus Cab and Crew Cab trucks had four doors, and the Crew Cab had a rear seat.
The basic C20 trim level was known as Custom Deluxe, with Custom Sport the next step up. Next came the Scottsdale package, which added patterned cloth upholstery with vinyl trim, chrome hubcaps, chrome side moldings (on Fleetside models), color-keyed floor mats and other upgrades. The Cheyenne was the next trim level, and included all Scottsdale features, plus upgraded seats (with optional "buffalo hide" vinyl upholstery), wood-grain dash and door inserts and extra cab insulation. The Silverado was the top-of-the-line trim, adding more insulation, full gauges and carpeting.
Seven engines were offered for the 1981 Chevrolet C20. The base engine was a 250-cubic-inch in-line six-cylinder producing 115 horsepower and 200 foot-pounds of torque. Another available six-cylinder displaced 292 cubic inches, and made 115 horsepower and 215 foot-pounds of torque. A 305 V-8 was offered in three different guises, making between 130 and 160 hp. The highest rated of these included a four-barrel Rochester carburetor with Electronic Spark Control (ESC); it was not available in California. Buyers wanting a larger V-8 could opt for a 350 engine with a four-barrel carburetor. A diesel V-8 displacing 350 cubic inches was the final option.
A three-speed manual, four-speed manual and three-speed automatic were the available transmissions.
Dimensions & Capacities
The C20's wheelbase was 131.5 inches for the standard cab and 164.5 inches for the Bonus Cab and Crew Cab. Overall length was 211.4 inches (for the standard cab); height was 70.8 inches. Weight varied depending on the configuration and engine chosen. The standard cab, six-cylinder Stepside weighed 3710 lbs., while the Fleetside weighed 3771 lbs. The six-cylinder Bonus Cab weighed 4246 lbs. without a box (that is, with chassis and cab only).
Payload capacity varied between the C Series models and depended on the suspension ordered. Overall, the C Series could accept loads ranging from 4,700 lbs. to 10,000 lbs. For certain models, a new 6,000-lb. semi-floating axle was available.
- "Standard Catalog of Chevrolet Trucks: Pickups & Other Light-Duty Trucks, 1918-1995"; John Gunnell; 1995
- "Chevrolet Pickups 1973-1998: How to Identify, Select and Restore Collector Light Trucks and El Caminos"; John Gunnell; 2007
- Photo Credit Ablestock.com/AbleStock.com/Getty Images
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