1973 Chevy Camper Special from CA - VIN?

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Grit dog

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1986
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454
Back then gas was maybe $0.40 a gallon, if not less, nobody cared about miles per gallon.
And until sniffy Joe and Kamaltoe got involved, we still sort of had "1973" prices in the US for gasoline.
$2.17/gal avg in 2020. $4-5 avg now today.....
 

Keith Seymore

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Money talks, and maybe the person that ordered/bought it had enough to get what they wanted. Either way, you have an upgraded 4x4 truck. Nice score.
454 was not available in 4wd because of the low range in the Tcase.

It doubled the torque load into the axles and exceeded their rating.

Also - no matter how much money you have you are not going to be able to persuade the assembly plant to build a combination that has not been engineered and validated.

K
 

Keith Seymore

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Keith! On my ongoing quest to figure out if this is a K20 or K30: I assumed it was a 3/4 ton with the wrong badging since the VIN has a “2”. But my google homework told me to look at the front diff to see if it’s a 44 or 60 to tell the difference. It looks like a 60 to me? (please disregard the goofy green paint from the PO). So 30 badging, 30 front axle, but a 20 VIN? what in the same hill is going on here? Camper Specials are weird.
Keith! On my ongoing quest to figure out if this is a K20 or K30: I assumed it was a 3/4 ton with the wrong badging since the VIN has a “2”. But my google homework told me to look at the front diff to see if it’s a 44 or 60 to tell the difference. It looks like a 60 to me? (please disregard the goofy green paint from the PO). So 30 badging, 30 front axle, but a 20 VIN? what in the same hill is going on here? Camper Specials are weird.
It's been nearly 50 years since it was built.

A lot could have been changed in the interim. I'd trust the VIN/factory documentation way before I'd believe the content on the truck.

K
 

Rickf

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1974, 1954 & a 1937
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K20
Engine Size
350
maybe a 20 cab on a 30 chassis? There should be numbers stamped on the frame, transmission, transfer case and both axles that will narrow things down.
 

BrianaBruce

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Briana
Truck Year
1973
Truck Model
K20
Engine Size
454
454 was not available in 4wd because of the low range in the Tcase.

It doubled the torque load into the axles and exceeded their rating.

Also - no matter how much money you have you are not going to be able to persuade the assembly plant to build a combination that has not been engineered and validated.

K
ah!! …maybe a previous owner put in the 454 AND the dana 60 axels/k30 axels I have on a truck with a k20/350 VIN?
 

Bextreme04

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Keith! On my ongoing quest to figure out if this is a K20 or K30: I assumed it was a 3/4 ton with the wrong badging since the VIN has a “2”. But my google homework told me to look at the front diff to see if it’s a 44 or 60 to tell the difference. It looks like a 60 to me? (please disregard the goofy green paint from the PO). So 30 badging, 30 front axle, but a 20 VIN? what in the same hill is going on here? Camper Specials are weird.
I told you how to tell the difference in Post #6. Your picture quite clearly shows a 44-50f cast into the webbing between the pumpkin and drivers side axle tube, which identifies it as a Dana 44. That would have been the factory axle on a 73 K20. 73 K30 would have a Dana 60. You can also measure the frame height to see if your frame is a 1 ton. Also the rear shocks would be in a different orientation and place on a 1 ton than on the 3/4 ton. There will also be a partial VIN stamped in the top of the passenger side frame rail right around the gap between the bed and cab.

Is there an SPID sheet inside the glovebox or on the inner fender? It's entirely possible that someone sourced new front fenders at some point and those were the badges that came on the replacement fenders. What does the entire truck look like? What rear axle does it have in it?
 

Craig 85

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1985
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K30 SRW
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454/TH-400/NP205
With regards to your BAR tag, I guess I'm the only ex-Cali guy old enough to know the info. When California started smog testing in 1984, the rule was 20 years old and newer had to get smogged every 2 years. I had a '64 Chevelle back then that they made me smog, even though it was built in the fall of 1963! The 20 year rule continued until about 1994 I think. That's when everything 1976 and newer had to get smogged.

I had a friend with a '79 K20 that had installed a 454 into prior to it needing it to start being smogged. He had to go to the BAR with his receipts to show the truck had been swapped prior to the regulations. BAR then would apply a sticker similar to the one you have to show it was exempt from specific equipment. Back then you could install older engines in newer vehicles and not have to keep the existing emissions equipment.

For sure it's a Dana 44 - 4 U-bolts with the larger bolt on hubs, D60's only have 3 and 2 studs (photo). Steering arms on the axle are different too

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BrianaBruce

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Location
San Diego, Ca
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Briana
Truck Year
1973
Truck Model
K20
Engine Size
454
With regards to your BAR tag, I guess I'm the only ex-Cali guy old enough to know the info. When California started smog testing in 1984, the rule was 20 years old and newer had to get smogged every 2 years. I had a '64 Chevelle back then that they made me smog, even though it was built in the fall of 1963! The 20 year rule continued until about 1994 I think. That's when everything 1976 and newer had to get smogged.

I had a friend with a '79 K20 that had installed a 454 into prior to it needing it to start being smogged. He had to go to the BAR with his receipts to show the truck had been swapped prior to the regulations. BAR then would apply a sticker similar to the one you have to show it was exempt from specific equipment. Back then you could install older engines in newer vehicles and not have to keep the existing emissions equipment.

For sure it's a Dana 44 - 4 U-bolts with the larger bolt on hubs, D60's only have 3 and 2 studs (photo). Steering arms on the axle are different too

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Craig,
Thank you so much for your time with replying to this. Everyone in this feed has been so helpful! I feel confident I understand what’s going on with the truck now: This is a K20 that someone put K30 badges on :scratches head: It also no longer has its original 350, but has a 454 (that was verified by CA BAR after installation).

DID your friend have any concern/issues with running a 454 in the K/4WD? Someone mentioned that they knew the 454 wasn’t original because it wasn’t offered in 1973 Ks for torque issues? (I think I read somewhere that maybe that was resolved and later Chevy offered 4WD/454 combos — maybe it was a non-issue for the 1979)?
 

DoubleDingo

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Carb'ed Vortec 350
With regards to your BAR tag, I guess I'm the only ex-Cali guy old enough to know the info. When California started smog testing in 1984, the rule was 20 years old and newer had to get smogged every 2 years. I had a '64 Chevelle back then that they made me smog, even though it was built in the fall of 1963! The 20 year rule continued until about 1994 I think. That's when everything 1976 and newer had to get smogged.
I remember those days. Had to smog my '65 C20 in '87 after getting possession of it, then '89, '91 and by '93 the laws had changed and it didn't need to be smogged the rural county I moved back to. I thought it was a crock to smog an old vehicle, but it passed no problem.
 

Craig 85

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1985
Truck Model
K30 SRW
Engine Size
454/TH-400/NP205
Craig,

DID your friend have any concern/issues with running a 454 in the K/4WD? Someone mentioned that they knew the 454 wasn’t original because it wasn’t offered in 1973 Ks for torque issues? (I think I read somewhere that maybe that was resolved and later Chevy offered 4WD/454 combos — maybe it was a non-issue for the 1979)?
My friend sold the truck back in 1993 when he purchased a new truck. His was a 4 speed, so I'm guessing it was a NP-205 transfer case. I don't recall him having any issues with it as it was his daily driver for years.

My K30 has a factory 454 with a TH-400 transmissions and 205 transfer case. I would guess if your truck has been together this long, it has probably sorted itself out by now.
 

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