S10 Trucks

S10 Trucks – What Makes These Old Compact Trucks Special?

Chevy first unveiled the compact S10 truck in 1982 to replace the outgoing LUV truck. S10 trucks were regarded by Chevy enthusiasts as one of the best trucks of the 1980s and 1990s. They are renowned for their versatility, style, and reliability. Rebadged S10 models were also sold by General Motors under the GMC, Isuzu, and Oldsmobile brands.

Up until its retirement in North America in 2004 and in South America in 2012, the Chevy S10 truck was produced for more than 20 years. However, there are still tonnes of S10s running strong today. As the S10’s replacement, Chevrolet eventually debuted the Colorado, which is still offered today.

This article explains everything you need to know about the two generations of the Chevy S10 pickup. We’ll examine the truck’s past, the various engines GM installed in it along with its current prices. Finally, we’ll also cover the available performance enhancements for the Chevy S10 pickup to make it as distinctive and potent as you like.

Chevy S10

The Chevy S10 was more than just another American pickup truck. It came into being as a direct reaction to the early 1970s Arab oil embargo and the success of Japanese compact pickup trucks.

The Chevrolet LUV was the compact truck that Chevrolet offered for the North American market before the S10. It was actually a rebadged version of the Isuzu KB Faster pickup truck. The name LUV stood for Light Utility Vehicle. GM was looking to build a truck that was both more fuel-efficient and could be manufactured in the United States.

Chevrolet was the first of the Big Three to create a gas-powered truck that was less expensive and more efficient than its massive commercial equivalents. As such, it had one of the best gas mileage among trucks of its time. As a result, the Chevy S10 gained accolades for its affordability and practicality.

Chevy S10 Models

Two generations of the Chevy S10 were sold in North America. The first was offered from 1982 to 1993, while the second was made available from 1994 to 2004.

Even though we now classify the Chevy S10 as being discontinued, it has actually survived because of its replacements. The 2004 Chevy Colorado (and its variations, the GMC Canyon and the Isuzu i-Series) was fundamentally the S10; it only went by a different name.

Therefore, GM introduced the Chevy S10 as more than just another pickup truck. This particular truck highlighted a particular era in the history of automobiles as it was the first tiny pickup truck ever produced.

Additionally, the Chevy S10 still has a high demand. It holds a respectable price given the number of years it has been on the market and at auctions. Some people seek these trucks out for nostalgic reasons. However, others do so for reasons of its toughness, typically dependable Chevrolet reliability, and great customization possibilities.

1st Gen S10

The rebadged Isuzu KB, which has been sold since 1972 as the Chevrolet LUV, was the first small vehicle sold by the Big Three automakers. Ford swiftly countered with the Mazda-built Ford Courier that same year. However, the 1973 Arab oil embargo compelled GM to think about creating a domestically produced compact pickup truck.

As usual, components from other GM chassis lines were used, mostly from the GM G-body intermediates. The track width resembled the previous GM H-body subcompacts. In 1981 the first S-series pickups were unveiled as the 1982 model year. Compared to Chevrolet’s previous C-10 pickups, it was lighter, smaller, and had a lower ride height. However, it was larger and heavier than the outgoing LUV.

Chevy S10 Truck Engine

A 1.9 L Isuzu four-cylinder came standard in the S10 which was also shared with the LUV and Isuzu P’up while a 2.8 L V6 was an optional upgrade. The compact SUV based on the S-10 truck – the  S-10 Blazer, debuted in 1983. We will cover this vehicle separately.

In 1983, two new engines were added along with the introduction of the “Maxi-Cab” extended cab S10 and “Insta-Trac” four-wheel drive. These new engines were an Isuzu 2.2 L four-cylinder diesel engine and a 2.0 L four-cylinder engine from the J-platform automobiles. Chevy once more debuted new engines in 1984, 1985, 1986, 1988, and 1992.

Chevy switched to a hydraulic clutch and added a sport suspension option for 1984. Rear anti-lock brakes and an electronic instrument panel for the dash were added by Chevrolet in 1989. Chevy installed transmission and oil coolers in 1994 and offered the four-speed 4L60-E Hydramatic automatic transmission as an option. Just be wary of the 4L60E transmission problems before you get one.

S10 Baja Trucks

Chevrolet offered the S-10 Baja exterior package for the S10 4WD from 1988 to 1991. Furthermore from 1989 to 1991, the S-10 Cameo and Cameo EL appearance kits were offered. Nearly every other year, the base S10s had small stylistic updates, including changes to the grille, headlights, and side moldings. Later on, extras like sunroofs became available.

The Chevrolet windshield banner, Baja decals on the box sides, and one-inch wide body striping were all part of the S-10 Baja package. It was offered in three colors which were Frost White, Apple Red, and Midnight Black.

It also came with a roll bar with off-road lights, a front tubular grille guard with fog lights, a tubular rear bumper, an under-body shield package along with a suspension package. Endgate nets and a spare-tire carrier for the S10 Baja version’s bed were optional extras for enthusiasts who preferred to venture off the beaten path.

Off-roading had grown in popularity in North America by the late 1980s, and the Chevrolet S10 Baja truck bet on it. Of course, it was successful, just like other 4WD vehicles at the time.

S10 Cameo Trucks

Between 1989 and 1991, the S-10 Cameo and Cameo EL appearance packages were offered for the two-wheel drive S-10. The Cameo was initially available in three colors: Apple Red, Frost White, or Midnight Black.

In addition to two-tone paint jobs, exterior elements such as a wraparound front bumper with fog lamps, lower body ground-effects moldings and wheel flares, a flush-fitting tailgate valance, a rear roll pan, and “Cameo” writing on the doors and tailgate were also offered in 1991. The S-10 Back Country, a forerunner to the Baja, and the S-10 Top Gun edition were additional appearance packages.

2nd Gen S10

The Chevy S10’s second generation debuted in 1994 and was produced till 2004. Although not much different, the interior comfort, performance, and exterior styling were all improved. The name was changed to formally reflect the S10 by eliminating the hyphen. The majority of the drivetrain and suspension parts were carried over to the second generation from the first.

Better aerodynamics and aesthetics were implemented on the outside. Larger windows, a new LS trim, and a forward-sloping hood were all added by Chevy. The majority of the new engines were significantly more powerful, with only one engine from the first generation being carried over.

The second generation of S10s was powered by a new 2.2 L 4-cylinder engine (which had debuted in 1990 on different front-wheel drive GM compact and mid-size platforms). The 4.3 L Vortec V6 was also offered while the Iron Duke 4-cylinder and 2.8 L 60° V6 engines were discontinued.

The 8.5-inch rear axle was often exclusively used on two-wheel drive trucks when the L35 W-code 4.3 L V6 engine was paired with a manual transmission. It was an option on four-wheel drive trucks with either transmission. Additionally, GM debuted the ZR2 off-road package in this model year.

Within a short period of time, Chevy modified the location of the transmission and fitted anti-lock brakes as standard equipment for all four wheels. Chevy also made air conditioning a standard feature on all models and for improved safety, they also added driver’s side airbags.

S10 Trucks: 1998 Facelift

The Chevrolet S10 underwent a mid-cycle facelift in 1998. New wheel designs were introduced, and the front fascia was remodeled on the exterior. The inside got a complete revamp, and the majority of the radios now came with a “TheftLock” anti-theft technology.

Additionally, they now had upgraded audio systems, fresh interior front door panels, an optional cassette/CD player radio, and new steering wheels. Further with the facelift came twin airbags, new instrument clusters with digital odometers, and gear shift indicators for models with automatic transmissions, along with new seat fabrics.

Crew Cab S10 Trucks

For the Chevrolet S10, a four-door Crew Cab configuration debuted in 2001. The Crew Cab, which was only offered in LS or SLS trims, came standard with a number of features that were optional on other S10 models. These included full power accessories, dual front bucket seats, 15″ five-spoke aluminum-alloy wheels, and an A/M-F/M stereo radio with TheftLock.

A single-disc CD player, a six-speaker audio system, and a tachometer in the instrument cluster were also among the newly added features. For the 2001 model year, leather-trimmed seating surfaces were also made available in the Crew Cab for the first time.

S10 SS Trucks

In 1994, Chevrolet debuted the Chevy S10 SS, a high-performance variant of the S-10. On average, fewer than 3,000 SSs were made each year. Onyx Black, Summit White, and Apple Red were the only three colors available when the SS was first released. The S 10 SS was discontinued in 1998 and was succeeded by the S10 Xtreme in 1999.

The SS came with a 4.3 L V6 as its standard engine, which was optional on normal S-10s and produced between 180 and 200 hp. A limited-slip differential, body-colored bumpers, 16-inch wheels with center caps like those on the 1991 and 1992 Camaro Z28, and other minor visual changes were all features of the SS.

The ZQ8 Sport Suspension kit, which includes bigger stabilizer bars and performance Bilstein shocks, was first offered as standard equipment on the SS model. Every single S10 SS that has ever been produced is a regular cab variant.

S10 Xtreme Trucks

After various modifications, it became clear that the S10 had superior performance over the competition. However, 1998 brought about further interior revisions for this vehicle. The original S10 Xtreme was introduced to the public in 1999, and it was a smaller truck than the norm. It was alluring because of its reasonable cost, which was roughly $15,000.

The S10 Xtreme from Chevrolet was significantly lower to the ground than other trucks. The ZQ8 suspension, a special kind of suspension that was introduced in S10 trucks, was the reason for this low height. All SS models had ordinary cabs while Xtremes were offered in an extended cab configuration. A stepside S10 model was also offered on the Xtreme up to 2003.

Chevy wanted to appeal to young people between the ages of 18 and 24, and this suspension was just one of the many strategies they used to do so. And evidently, they succeeded in achieving their goal. A lowered truck was viewed as a dependable vehicle by those who were fresh to the automotive industry.

A 2.2-liter four-cylinder engine came standard in this four-wheel-drive truck. Buyers also had the option of a 4.3-liter V6 engine, which produced 100 horsepower and 245 lb-ft of torque. The S10 Xtreme made no excuses when it hit the road as a result of these powerful engines.

A crew cab model was added in 2001. However, it was restricted to vehicles with automatic transmissions and four-wheel drive. Only the crew cab model was available for the 2004 model year while the regular and extended cab variants were discontinued.

S10 ZR2 Trucks

For the second-generation S-10, an off-road package called the ZR2 package was offered. The ZR2 package added an 8.5-inch Chevrolet 10-bolt rear differential with 3.73:1 gears and a 4-inch (100 mm) wider track width. It had a boxed ladder-type frame with modified suspension mounting points and 31-inch all-terrain tires.

The S10 ZR2 further came with upgraded Bilstein suspension with a lift that added about 3 inches more ground clearance than a regular four-wheel-drive S-10. The ZR2 package was eventually phased out of S10 trucks. However, it has now returned in the 2017 Colorado which is the successor of the S10.

S10 Trucks: Electric S10

In 1997, Chevy introduced the Electric S10, one of the rarest Chevys ever made. This pickup truck is entirely battery-powered. Customers included the U.S. Air Force as well as utilities like Virginia Power, Detroit Edison, Boston Edison, Southern California Edison, and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. These products were offered on a lease basis to utility fleets.

The detuned drivetrains of Chevy’s EV1 electric vehicle were used to power the Electric S10. This powertrain produced 114 horsepower and 85 kilowatts from an AC motor. It was powered by a lead-acid Delco battery pack weighing 1,400 pounds and including 27 cells. Despite being a big vehicle (4,199 pounds), its payload was still just about 951 pounds.

The Electric S10 had an EPA-estimated range of 45 miles and took around 2.5 hours to completely charge. A revision to this all-electric vehicle was made in 1998, but it was ultimately discontinued later in the same year. Sixty of the 492 vehicles built between the two model years were sold, making them uncommon but not hard to locate.

The Electric S10 pickups, the sixty that were sold, were all destroyed. This happened as part of Chevy’s endeavor to safeguard their confidential EV technology research and design. Hence the S10 EV had a similar fate to the company’s EV1 electric vehicle.

S10 Blazer

The S-10 Blazer was a compact SUV based on the S-10 pickup truck, sharing many components. The S-10 Blazer was smaller than its larger K5 Blazer sibling and lacked a retractable top. Only available as a two-door body style for a very long period, the S10 Blazer’s four-door version, with a 6.5 in (17 cm) longer wheelbase and length, debuted in March 1990.

For those who didn’t quite need the extra space provided by the K5 Blazer’s larger footprint, Chevrolet developed the smaller and more nimble S-10 Blazer. The S-10 Blazer was the first compact sport utility vehicle ever. It was introduced by GM in 1983, then the following year by Ford and Jeep.

The first-generation S-10 Blazer went out of production in 1994. In 1994, the brand-new Blazer made its debut as the 1995 model year vehicle. Due to the discontinuation of the full-size K5 Blazer, it lost the S-10 prefix for easier identification this time. The second-gen Blazer was upgraded to a mid-sized SUV by increasing the size of the exterior and interior.

S10 Trucks

Custom Chevy S10

Because the Chevy S10 has always been modder-friendly, there are many modified S10 trucks on American roads. Even now, this quarter-ton truck is a very popular race vehicle due to its small size and straightforward construction.

The excellent platform of the Chevy S10 makes a fantastic foundation for specialized off-road vehicles. The adaptable structure of the Chevrolet S10 trucks was genuinely all-purpose. We have seen mods including slammed S10s, S10 duallys, and even LS swap S10s with outrageous power outputs.

Chevrolet pickup trucks have created and fostered a culture all their own throughout the years, making them a true icon of American automotive history. Over the years, several Chevy trucks have captured our hearts, but probably none more so than the Chevy S10.

The Chevy S10 pickup, one of Chevrolet’s most recognizable trucks, is a renowned illustration of the distinct beginnings of little Chevy trucks. The S10 truck has produced a number of noteworthy successors throughout the years, including the magnificent Chevy Colorado, a mainstay of modern American roadways.

S10 Trucks: Price

You’re not going to get a very inexpensive S10 these days unless you happen to come across a real junker that is barely fit to be on the road. This is so because many of them have undergone some degree of restoration.

Hence, the owners of those that haven’t restored them are aware that many people are interested in purchasing them to either repair or modify into hotrods or resto-mods. If you’re seeking a late-1980s or early-1990s S10, you should expect to pay at least $1,500. But a nice one will cost closer to $3,000.

You may discover an occasional clean specimen for less than a thousand dollars. The issue with these is that if you want to restore them and make a profit or even earn your money back, you’ll need to do it on a very limited budget.

S10 Trucks: Conclusion

The Chevy S10 wasn’t anything unique when it was in production. The only specialty was that it was one of the first compact pickup trucks produced by one of the major domestic automakers. Today, however, many people view Chevrolet pickup trucks from all ages as symbols of American culture that span generations.

The performance, heritage, and distinctive character of the Chevy S10 more than make up for its size and capability shortcomings. The specifications don’t reveal much on their own. But as already noted, the Chevy S10 was a tough and capable little pickup truck that could get the job done. It was the ideal size for folks who didn’t like bigger vehicles.

The good news is that anyone who misses the Chevy S10 may still buy one today for a fair price and in decent shape considering its age. The S10 is a handsome truck even by today’s standards, and there are now so many parts and accessories available that the options for what you can do with one are practically limitless. Among other factors, this is what makes it one of the most wanted classic trucks today.

S10 Trucks

FAQs On S10 Trucks

What Is An OBS Truck

Old Body Trucks is the acronym for the term OBS, which was coined by enthusiasts. The criteria are rather arbitrary. But the trucks made in the early 2000s that have a boxy, tough appearance typically fit in this group.

What Kind Of Car Is A S10 Truck

The Chevy S10 is a compact pickup truck. Since 1981, General Motors has marketed the Chevrolet S10, commonly known as the S-10 or S-Series, mostly in the Americas. The S-10 served as the S10’s first North American introduction.

When Did Chevy Stop Making The S10

The Chevrolet S10 was discontinued in North America in 2004 after two generations and 23 years in the market. The Chevrolet Colorado took the place of the earlier vehicle at that time.

What Year Did The Chevy S10 Come Out

In the United States, the 1982 model year saw the debut of the first-generation Chevrolet S-10. The letter S and the number 10 were separated by a dash in the name’s official spelling, which was S-10. It was the first compact pickup truck designed and produced exclusively by an American brand.

Is A Chevy S10 A Good Truck

Yes, the lifespan of a Chevy S10 should be at least 200,000 miles. Typically, after 200,000 miles, engine parts begin to wear out. At this point, you must decide whether to replace them or rebuild the truck totally.

Is Chevy Bringing Back The S10

The 2023 Chevy S10 Max is a brand-new moniker in the Bow Tie brand’s lineup because it has no connection to the original Chevrolet S10. The S10 Max, which is merely a rebadged Maxus T70 sold in China, is the outcome of GM’s joint venture in with SAIC Motors. The S10 Max’s only objective is to make Chevrolet more competitive in Mexico’s automotive market.

How Much Does A Chevy S10 Weigh

A Chevrolet S10 pickup truck’s weight varies based on the model. For instance, the 2003 S10 has a curb weight of 3,016 pounds. The owner’s handbook or the manufacturer directly can provide information on the weight of different models.

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