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Like a Rock: Why the '88-98 Chevy & GMC Pickups Are Becoming True Classics

When a vehicle becomes a classic, it usually falls into one of two categories. Rare, exclusive, unusual or popular and iconic. A Ferrari F40 will fall into that first category while a 1964 1/2 Ford Mustang will fall into the second. And, as the years go on and vehicles age, we will be welcoming new classics that represent all categories. As we head into the 2020s, the 1988-98 Chevy C/K pickup truck is on its way to becoming a classic in the popular and iconic category. Here are some reasons why.

The Sweet Spot of Pickup Trucks

The '88-'98 Chevy truck along with its GMC twin represent a perfect blend of the classic and the modern. From its just-right size to its subtle styling, the GMT400 rucks have earned a lot of fans over the decades. 

Chevy C/K Pickup Shortbed Blue

Mechanically, with the classic small block Chevy (and occasionally the classic big block) under the hood these trucks are quite simple mechanically and have held up to a lots of abuse. 

Chevy SS 454 Pickup Interior Red

And, at the same time, they are modern enough to serve as daily drivers if you choose, with proven and inexpensive drivetrain components with near endless aftermarket potential.

An American Cultural Icon

One of the things that makes these trucks special is that they arrived at a time when the pickup began its rise to the top of American vehicle market.

Chevy C/K Pickup Offroad

If you grew up in the United States during this time, it's highly likely you knew someone who had a Chevy or GMC pickup. They were everywhere—and their simple styling has stood the test of time.

Chevy C/K Extended Cab Pickup Snow

Let's not forget those memorable TV ads with Bob Seger's "Like a Rock" playing over various scenes of people working and playing with their Chevys.

A Style For Everyone

Another thing that made this generation of pickup popular both then and now was the variety of configurations you could get one in. While the large four-door truck has come to dominate today's market, back in the '90s a two-door, short bed truck was the go-to for many.

Chevy C/K Pickup Stepside and Flareside

You could go 2WD or 4x4. Flareside or stepside. Long bed or short bed. Extended cab or regular. And then there were the duallies—which not only delivered serious towing capacity, but also became a style statement when dropped down on some nice wheels.

Chevy C/K Dually Pickup Towing

Last, but certainly not least, is the SS 454 pickup—which has remained highly desirable among enthusiasts and collectors. While its performance may be unimpressive by today's standards, the big-block powered SS is a true classic.

Chevy 454 SS Pickup in motion

Plentiful & Affordable

Being a blue-collar pickup truck, not too many Silverados and Sierras were babied by their owners, but fortunately their high production numbers mean plenty of relatively clean examples can still be found.

Chevy C/K Dually Pickup Red

My classified-browsing experiences show project-worthy trucks priced well below $5,000 while super-clean examples are still well under $10,000.

Chevy C/K Pickup Red & Silver

In other words, they may be right at that sweet spot after they are done "aging," but before values begin to noticeably appreciate.

Endless Potential

Being anywhere between 22 and 32 years old, chances are any of these trucks you buy today is going to need some refreshing. Fortunately, there's no shortage of options when it comes to restoring or upgrading.

1997 Chevy Pace Truck

An LS swap is an easy job on any of these trucks and once you go that route the performance potential is undeniable. Whether you into off-roading, drag racing or even handling-upgrades it's still one of the best project platforms out there.

Or maybe you just want to keep one original and enjoy it for what it is?

Chevy 454 SS Pickup Rear View

Whatever the case, as more vehicles from the late '80s and '90s continue to be considered legitimate classics, it's only a matter of time before the massively popular GM pickups of the era take their rightful place next to the classic trucks of earlier decades.

Considering an LS Swap? Click here to see what you need to know before you start.

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