Spotlight: 1972 Chevy Truck

1972 chevy truck on road

In the mid-1960s when it was acceptable, or rather normal, for trucks to be nothing more than barebones workhorses, Chevrolet set out to revolutionize the segment by producing a line of less “trucky” pickups.

The idea was to offer a series of trucks that would grab market share from competing offerings from rivals such as GMC, Dodge, and International.

Seeing that more and more people in North America were buying trucks primarily for personal use, the automaker’s designers decided that blending the comfort of sedans with the power and ruggedness of trucks was the way to go — thus the birth of the 1967–’72 series of Chevy trucks.

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This generation became, and still is, more popular than both the preceding 1960–1966 and the following 1973–1987 generations thanks to a daring exterior design, a plush cabin, and car-like drive-ability.

The 1972 Chevy truck is the last of the six-year generation. Its popularity rose steadily over the years and it is now one of the most sought-after classic trucks.

In fact, the demand for the 1972 trucks has intensified so much it was easy to tell they will achieve iconic status. Despite their high demand, they are still very affordable. You will find affordable prices for a rundown project and expensive costs for a well-maintained vehicle.

The fully loaded short beds with big-block engines are the highest priced variants, followed by their small-block-equipped counterparts. Plainer short beds and loaded long beds close the price parade.

Review and Specifications of the 1972 Chevy Truck

Trims and Styles

An orange 1972 chevy truck

Image: CC 2.0, steviep187, via Flicker

Were two main trims of the 1972 Chevy truck: the C Series and the K Series. The classification of trims was dependent on drivetrain with the former and latter having two-wheel-drive and four-wheel-drive systems, respectively.

Furthermore, Chevrolet used 10, 20, and 30 to designate models for 1/2-, 3/4-, and 1-ton, respectively. The C10 model is the most popular among modern sports truck enthusiasts because of its comparably higher maneuverability.

The long bed two-wheeler models are the most common today because they were the most produced, while the four-wheel-drive models are much rarer since all-wheel drivetrains were not as popular back then.

Chevrolet further availed the 1972 truck in two-bed styles: Fleetside and Stepside. Both styles were available as either an 8-foot long bed or a 6-foot short bed.

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Although production numbers favored Fleetsides throughout the generation’s six-year run, the disparity was much greater in 1972 when Stepsides made up an insignificant percentage of the total lineup. Also, Fleetsides boasted a greater array of standard and optional equipment, increasing their popularity among personal users.

Stepsides, on the other hand, came with only the most essential amenities, making them ideal for utility companies. Ideally, going by the numbers, a loaded 1972 Stepside with a big-block engine and power accessories is the rarest combination that you can find today.

Notably, Chevrolet also introduced two all-new body styles for the 1969–1972 generation: the Longhorn and the Blazer. The former pickup had an elongated 8.5-inch bed while the latter was a short-wheelbase sport-oriented variation.

The sporty Blazer was an immediate hit and went on to become a legend among Chevy’s nameplates. The Longhorn, however, did not fare as well.

Exterior Styling

As mentioned earlier, Chevrolet was looking to produce a truck that looked, in its own words, less “trucky.” Therefore, Chevy replaced previous boxy design cues with more curvy corners and smoother lines and creases for the 1967–1972 generation.

However, the automaker experimented with the less-“trucky” styling until 1970, then decided to go back to its old ways for the 1971 and 1972 model years. The 1972 Chevy truck was the most aggressive in its generation thanks to a bold grille and an upright hood (as opposed to sloped hoods on previous models).

It also featured a prominent Chevrolet bowtie emblem placed centrally on the grille and flanked by a contemporary-looking egg-crate design. A bright outer trim that sometimes included a white color accent painted to the sides completed the truck’s look.

Interior and Features

The interior of 1972 Chevy truck offered creature comforts previously unheard of in the world of trucks. The plush and spacious cabin rivaled most passenger cars of the time and established the truck’s position above the rest.

Apart from the standard features such as cloth upholstery common in trucks of the time, the 1972 Chevy truck pickup offered a comprehensive list of standalone optional superlatives plus two available packages.

Bucket seats, an AM/FM stereo with push-button controls, wall-to-wall carpeting, air conditioning, and a console with intuitively placed controls were top on the optional sheet.

Cheyenne and Cheyenne’s Super packages added premium extras such as door panels, cloth inserts on the seats, a dashboard woodgrain trim, and a bright pedal pad. Of course, Chevy made stripped-down versions of the truck for the budget-conscious buyer.

Engine and Drivetrain

The 1972 Chevrolet pickup came in C Series two-wheel-drive and K Series four-wheel-drive specifications. The engine lineup included a choice of four engines: a 250-hp six-cylinder, a 307-hp V-8, a 350-hp V-8, and a 400-hp V-8. All four engines could be paired with either a three-speed manual or automatic transmission.

A four-speed manual or automatic gearbox was available to all engines except the 400-hp eight-cylinder. GM corporate axles and Dana 44 axles were used at the rear and front of four-wheel-equipped trucks, respectively.

Chassis and brakes

The 1972 Chevy pickup sat on a ladder-type platform constructed using heavy-gauge metal and “alligator jaw” cross members. For easier egress and ingress, Chevy adopted a drop-center design on the frame to facilitate lower cab mounting. General Motor’s patented suspension, dubbed “Girder Beam” because of a girder-like cross member, supported the two-wheel-drive C Series’ front wheels.

It may not seem like much of a deal today but Chevy’s use of coil springs in the rear suspensions of 1/2-ton C10s and 3/4-ton C20s to facilitate a sedan-like ride-ability over uneven pavement and bumps was the automaker’s most daring move yet.

Drivers seeking to increase the payload capacity of their coil spring trucks could order them with an auxiliary rear leaf spring. Chevy also offered a hind leaf-spring package for 1/2-ton and 3/4-ton C Series trucks.

All-wheel-drive models had leaf springs on all four haunches. The leaves used varied in configuration depending on the type of suspension fitted and the payload rating.

All models came standard with four-wheel, auto-adjusting, hydraulic drum brakes, and drivers could add an optional vacuum assist to the braking system. The 1972 truck also benefited from front disc brakes.

Unlike previous models that had six-lug wheels, the new truck came with a five-bolt pattern for two-wheeler-drive trucks and eight-lug wheels for larger variants.

Luckily, suspensions and brake parts are easily available today because the trucks’ rising popularity has caused specialty manufacturers to start reproducing high-quality parts.

1972 Chevy Truck Buyer’s Guide

Looking to turn heads with a classic 1972 Chevrolet truck? Here is a brief guide on how to go about buying and restoring your truck.

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Minimize Restoration Costs

As much as rising demand has caused an increase in their prices, most trucks are still approachable to budget buyers. Even so, restoration and maintenance costs can set you back a pretty penny if you do not do your homework right.

Firstly, you need to understand that about 500,000 units were sold and most are still functional. Thus, you need not rush into the first deal you get but instead take your time and shop around.

Obviously, you cannot find a brand new ’72 Chevy truck, so your only option is to look for one that best blends features with condition. While buying a stripped truck allows you to customize your ride as you see fit, it will cost you much more in the long run than if you bought a loaded truck.

Although body condition should always come before equipment level, you need to ensure that not so many items are missing that you spend a fortune on restoration.

Inspect Thoroughly

Rust is one of the key defects that you should look for when inspecting this truck. GM used easily corroded sheet metal in the construction of some parts and bombproof materials on the chassis and drivetrains — both of which are significantly susceptible to rust.

If you find out that the rocker panels are rusted, check if the floors and cab mounts are also affected. Also, though frame rot is uncommon, it is not entirely impossible.

Confirm Availability of Parts

After inspecting your desired truck, look at catalogs to learn which of the missing parts are currently being reproduced. If you don’t find everything that you need, check out publications and swap meets to see if anyone has them. If the parts are available, find out the cost keeping in mind the amount of work that the truck needs. Use this information to determine whether you will end up spending beyond your budget to restore the truck. Also, never go to a swap meet without a general idea of parts’ market value.

A 1972 Chevy truck has become a classic collector’s vehicle. This rugged yet comfortable ride can make an impression on any car lover. Whether you’re looking for a chance to fix one up or hoping to get a truck for show.

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