The 1963 Chevrolet C-10 half-ton pickup that appears on the cover of the September/October 2014 issue of Vintage Truck magazine was originally owned by farmer Henry Steinfeldt of Eldora, Iowa, before being bought by Keith Bisson in 1987, the year he graduated from high school. Henry had taken very good care of his truck, and Keith has had to do very little to maintain the pristine appearance besides repainting it in its original Cameo White.
What else is in this issue?
- 1929 Ford Model AA
- Dodge Revival: A Restoration Saga, Part 35
- 1946 Dodge Power Wagon
- 1951 International L-110
- The M-422 “Mighty Mite” Prototype
- 1960 Rambler American Custom Wagon
- Delivery Designs – International Metro Buses
- Triple Diamond Treatise – ’77–’80 Scout Aftermarket Conversions
- Tech Tips – The Battery Is Dead AGAIN
- Notes from the Corrosion Lab – Lubricant Intervals
- Tailgate Talk – Pickups, Gun Racks, and Growing Up
- Chevy Talk – 1946 Chevrolet Half-ton
- Tech Tips – Time Is On My Side Of The Firewall
Luxury on the Farm
1963 Chevrolet C-10
Text by Keith Bisson
Photos by Al Rogers
I purchased this 1963 Chevrolet C-10 pickup in 1987, the year I graduated from high school. Farmer Henry Steinfeldt purchased the truck new in 1963 from O’Bryon Chevrolet-Oldsmobile in Eldora, Iowa. After 24 years of ownership, Henry traded it for a new Chevrolet at my family’s Bisson Chevrolet-Oldsmobile dealership in Eldora, a successor to O’Bryon Chevrolet-Oldsmobile. Thus, I am the second owner of this truck.
Since Henry wintered in Florida, the truck spent the harsh Iowa winters securely indoors. Henry took very good care of his farm truck and, as a result, the truck was free of any dents or rust and required no bodywork. I did have the truck repainted in 1992 in Cameo White (an original Chevrolet color option for the 1963 year) to correct a few minor paint issues. The truck topper that Henry installed did a great job of protecting the original wood floor and black paint of the pickup bed, however, it left permanent marks on the top of the box sides.
Henry had removed the single original equipment side mirror and installed aftermarket GM side mirrors on both sides. These additions were removed during the repaint, and the original mirror (still in new condition in the glove box) was reinstalled. New body side moldings were also installed at the time of the repaint, because the original moldings were covered in dings—that, I suspect, were the result of being parked in the garage next to the family car. The bumpers, grille, and other trim pieces are original.
In 1996, I had the engine rebuilt. It ran great, but it was blowing a bit of blue smoke that really showed under the evening streetlights of Detroit’s Woodward Avenue. I lived in Michigan at that time, so the engine was removed and taken back to Eldora for service by one of the few mechanics that had ever worked on Henry’s truck.
The interior is all-original except for a replacement seat cover. The original seat cover is under the present cover, but I do not know its condition.
I was able to find some original service documentation, so I could replace the tires with the same size and brand white sidewalls as the original 7.10×15-inch, 4-ply ones on the truck when it was delivered new.
Back in 1963 when most half-ton farm trucks were equipped with the 6-cylinder engine and a 3-speed column-shift transmission, Henry indulged himself when he opted for the Custom Cab and 283ci V-8 engine with automatic transmission. He elected for several other optional upgrades such as the chrome bumpers and grille, body side moldings, AM radio, tinted windshield, and whitewall tires. Henry’s new truck was indeed pretty extravagant for a farm truck in rural Iowa. Is it any wonder that he took such good care of it during his 24 years of ownership?
The truck may seem very sparsely equipped compared to today’s option-laden pickups, however, it is deluxe by 1963 standards. Fifty years ago, these types of pickups had yet to be accepted among the main modes of transportation and were primarily used by customers who did not require all the amenities of passenger cars, such as contractors, retail businesses, tradesmen, and (of course) farmers.
Though considered an upgrade, the extra-cost “Custom Cab” option for the 1963 Chevrolet pickup included a passenger-side sun visor and armrest, a supposedly more upscale seat pattern with more foam padding, and a bright appliqué on the cab. The purchaser had one color choice for the interior, a light beige and tan combination. There was no instrument panel padding, no trim on the metal doors, and, of course, no carpeting. Leather seating, power windows and locks, stylish alloy wheels, heated seats, and other luxury options were still in the distant future.
Although the first generation C-Series trucks were strictly utilitarian, the styling team at Chevrolet did not wholly neglect them. With their Fleetside bodies, they were very nicely proportioned and their styling was much improved from the more functional look of the previous body style used from 1955 through 1959. The body sides and the hood were enhanced with tasteful full-length sculpturing. The cab was also very stylish with its two-tiered roof and sunshade brows over the windshield and backlight. For work trucks, they had many notable styling details. The more one looks at the truck, the more apparent these details become.
This pickup body style was all-new for the 1960 model year and soldiered on through the 1966 model year with minor styling changes from year to year. The most notable style change was in 1962, when the truck received a more conventional-looking hood and single headlights replaced the dual lamp system. 1963 was the last year for the very stylish “panoramic,” wrap-around windshield on Chevrolet trucks. This feature is considered by many to be the most distinguishing attribute between the 1963 pickup and its 1964 through 1966 successors.