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All of 73-87 Chevy and GMC Special Edition Pickup Trucks Part II

A few more Special Edition Chevy & GMC Trucks

Continuing the first chapter of 73-87 Chevy and GMC special edition pickup trucks, we’re concluding the series in this article. There were numerous special edition pickup trucks back in the day, but no model delivered more on that front than the third generation Chevy/GMC C/K pickups.

GMC Street Coupe

Years: 1978-1980

Street coupe wasn’t limited to GMC fleetside and wideside pickups exclusively. It could have been ordered with the Jimmy and Suburban too. Although offered through more than one nameplate and for more than one year, Street Coupe remained one rare special edition model. Recognizable by its ZY5 two-tone paint scheme, Street Coupe also featured the recognizable hood ornament and striping. It was available with 350ci V8 and 454ci V8 making 140 hp and 205 hp respectively. As its name suggests, Street Coupe was more comfortable on the roads than off roads. Moreover, it was an expensive affair compared to other truck workhorses from back in the day. Maybe that’s the reason it remained rather rare. At least it delivered in terms of luxury, sort of. It needed to do so in order to justify its hefty price tag which often ended up being in 5-digit territory.

GMC Amarillo

Year: 1979

Amarillo was a GMC offering during the 1979, and it could have been ordered in three forms: the base Amarillo, slightly more upscale Amarillo GT and top of the line Amarillo Cowboy Cadillac. Base offering included the rainbow-like three tone yellow-orange-red paint with stripes, Amarillo identification decals on rear quarter panels and LR 60 BF Goodrich tires. Stepping up to the GT added LR 70 radials, finned wheels, blending front air dam, roof spoiler, chromed side pipes, and leather-wrapped steering wheel. Finally, Amarillo Cowboy Cadillac included most of that plus plushier interior with matching upholstery, door panels, headliner, carpet and “truckers lounge” seat. Amarillo was built by American Coach Corporation from Warren, Ohio, and costed anywhere between $450 and $2,300 based on offering of choice.

Numerous mags tested the Amarillo back in the day. Hot Rod Magazine achieved 15.6 second quarter mile with it, which was the best pickup truck time then – better even than the mighty Lil’ Red Express. All that was possible due to upgraded 240-horsepower 454ci V8 and already mentioned BF Goodrich radials.

GMC Mule

Year: 1979

GMC Mule is one of the most mysterious special edition trucks ever to have come from the GM. It was apparently only available through one of 19 GMC Chicagoland truck dealers, and only for the limited time period too. That’s the main reason why it’s remained obscured to date. All GMC pickup truck combos were eligible for the Mule conversion. Apart from the obvious Mule logo on the rear tailgate and front quarter panel, all of these trucks featured special spoke wheel covers, yellow pinstriping and solid oak side rails reminiscent of wagons of old. Sadly, we’re still waiting for one of them to appear in some barn or somewhere.

Chevy Rollin’ Rebel

Year: 1981

Rollin’ Rebel was also commissioned by a third party manufacturer. Choo Choo Customs out of Chattanooga, Tennessee collaborated closely with Chevrolet on numerous occasions and short wheelbase 1981 pickup here is one of these projects. Completed in peculiar silver paint scheme with awkward graphics, Rollin’ Rebel also sported a roofline spoiler, special wheels and radial tires, front air dam, aerodynamic side steps and chromed bumpers. It could have only been ordered with Custom Deluxe trim package, single cab and 305ci V8 engine. Interior was unique too. Apart from the numbered plaque upon the dash, Rollin’ Rebel featured one-off red upholstery and corresponding dash inserts. There weren’t more than 200 of them overall.

Chevy Sno Chaser

Year: 1984

Available only in snowy states and other wintry areas, Sno Chaser is as rare as special edition pickup trucks get. Being marketed in snowy states, it’s natural that Sno Chaser was offered with mandatory all-wheel drive. It also had two-tone paint job separated by a stripe with lower paint being a protective layer. As for the rest of its look goes, Sno Chaser distinguished itself thanks to bed-mounted cab spoiler and side cab rails. Exact numbers of these limited run special edition trucks are unknown, but they were extremely rare to begin with. Furthermore, you’ll be hard-pressed to find one today since they rust much quicker in humid and cold weather for which they were intended in the first place.

GMC California Sundancer

Year: 1987

California Sundancer was basically the opposite of the  Sno Chaser. As its name suggests, it was exclusively offered in southern California where surfer’s scene was going strong. Bright yellow paint couldn’t have agreed with it more, and it was complemented by gunmetal gray inserts and blue pinstriping. Sport truck by vocation, California Sundancer came with BF Goodrich sport radials, 15-inch Mag Sprinter Western wheels, Bilstein shock absorbers, and Smittybilt dual-tubular front and rear bumpers. Optional equipment included driving lights, a sunroof and a rollbar (in a sport truck?).

Chevy Blazer Chalet and GMC Jimmy Casa Grande

Years: 1976-1977

Not exactly special editions, but both Chalet and especially Casa Grande were extremely rare. Approximately 1,780 Chevy Blazer Chalets have been produced between April 1976 and January 1977, while GMC Jimmy Casa Grande numbers were considerably lower. Both campers were practically identical in terms of their offering, however. Standard 350ci V8 and optional 400ci V8 were the engines, while 3-speed manual and 4-speed Turbo Hydra-Matic automatic were transmissions. Furthermore, most of them were conventional all-wheel drive models, while those with the auto could have been ordered with optional full-time all-wheel drive.

Chalet and Casa Grande sported standard two or optional four bunk beds, dinette table with two sofas for four people, stainless steel sink, stove, etc. They also cost a lot. Rarely were they priced in intended 4-digit figures as optional equipment quickly raised the stickers into a five-digit category. That may be one of the reasons so few people decided to buy one of them. Others were, as you can imagine, not that great of a practicality, high weight, low gas mileage, etc.

GMC Royal Sierra

Years: 1976-1979

Royal Sierra too wasn’t a special edition per se, but that doesn’t make it rarer than other limited run models. In fact, only around 500 or so of them are believed to have been ordered that way. Royal Sierra is basically nothing more than a special trim offered as year-end promotional package. It’s analogous to much more widespread Chevy Bonanza.

Everyone ordering a Royal Sierra trim got the opportunity to stack it with groupings of both appearance and convenience options at discounted prices. That’s why they’re usually mildly upscale models, although pretty much every GMC truck option could have been ordered with it. What it did was to basically replace the Chevy Scottsdale/GMC Sierra Grande decals. In other words, RPO Z62 trim continued serving as its base, but under a different name. That practice was abandoned after 1979 and so was the mandatory Z62 trim. Z84 or YE9 interiors were also available at a discount from 1980 onward, but they were never again named differently.

GMC Foxy Sierra

Years: ?

Very little is known about the GMC Foxy Sierra apart from the fact that it was a 73-87 special edition manufactured by Alpha Vehicles Inc. from South Elkhart, Indiana. Apparently, people down at Alpha weren’t very impressed with basic GMC Sierra package and decided to spice things up, hence the name. Foxy Sierra came with special exterior with stripes upon the hood and sides, and equally unique interior with special upholstery and a console ice box between the buckets. CB radio and 8-track AM/FM system were included in the package, while bed-mounted roll bar with driving lights could have been ordered as an option. Alpha Industries recommended ordering future conversion GMC Sierra with a smaller V8, fenderside body, solid color and auto trans. How many of them have been made or how many have survived is still a mystery.

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Nikola Potrebić
About Nikola Potrebić

Although driving a piece of junk, Nikola is a true car enthusiast. Very few things move him as muscle cars do - especially those from the golden era. Which makes him wonder: why wasn't he born a few decades earlier? Well, at least he's been able to enjoy the likes of Pontiak Aztek, Fiat Multipla, and the likes this way - right?