Junkyard Gem: 1988 Chevrolet S-10

The little Chevy pickup that replaced the Isuzu-built LUV

99 - 1988 Chevrolet S-10 in Colorado junkyard - Photo by Murilee Martin
99 - 1988 Chevrolet S-10 in Colorado junkyard - Photo by Murilee Martin
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When General Motors wanted a small pickup truck to sell in North America — smaller than even the Chevrolet El Camino/GMC Sprint cartruck — the Isuzu Faster was brought over from Japan and given Chevrolet LUV badges, starting in the 1972 model year. At the same time, Ford turned to Mazda to provide the new Courier mini-pickup, Chrysler got into the little-truck game by selling rebadged Mitsubishi Tritons with Dodge and Plymouth badging, and of course Datsun and Toyota were right there with their pickups. Eventually, GM developed its own all-American compact truck: the Chevrolet S-10 and GMC S-15. Here's one of those first-generation S-10s, found in a Denver-area self-service wrecking yard recently.

The first S-10s showed up for the 1982 model year, beating the Ford Ranger to showrooms by a full year. The LUV remained available for 1982, which meant that Chevrolet truck shoppers could choose between the Chicken Taxed-but-still-cheap $6,256 import and the brand-new $6,465 all-American S-10 (those prices come to about $19,650 for the LUV and $20,305 for the S-10, when converted to 2022 dollars). After that, Americans could still buy the Isuzu-badged version of the LUV (known as the P'Up and then just the Isuzu Truck) through 1995.

By 1988, the very cheapest new S-10 started at $6,595 (about $16,880 now).

When you got the entry-level S-10 in 1988, you took the base engine: the 2.5-liter Iron Duke. A rough-running-but-sturdy four-banger that was essentially one cylinder bank of the Pontiac 301 V8, this engine was called the Tech IV when equipped with throttle-body fuel injection (as this one is) and made 92 horsepower in the '88 S-10. Believe it or not, GM put Iron Dukes in Camaros.

The only optional S-10 engine in early 1988 was a 2.8-liter V6 rated at 125 horsepower. Late in the model year, the 4.3-liter V6 was added to the S-10 options list.

The serious penny-pinching S-10 shoppers accepted the base four-speed manual transmission in 1988, but this truck got the $175 five-speed overdrive gearbox (that's $448 in 2022 bones, or clams, or whatever you call them). A four-speed automatic transmission was available for $670 ($1,715 now), but that would have made for pure driving misery with a Duke under the hood.

Do you like simple instrument panels? If so, you can't beat this one. No information overload here!

This truck worked long and hard, and has the odometer reading to prove it.

You'll find one in every car. You'll see.

The S-10/S-15 weighed about 2,600 pounds at this time, though it got a bit heavier with each passing model year. When the second-generation S-10 came out for the 1994 model year (its GMC counterpart had been renamed the Sonoma by then), curb weight hit the 3,000-pound mark. The S-10 stuck around through 2004 (scaling in at two tons by that point), after which it was replaced by the Colorado.

This truck started out with white paint, but got a thick coat of black primer late in life.

General Motors do Brasil revived the S-10 name on the Brazilian-market Colorado during the late 2010s. Perhaps it will make another comeback, here or elsewhere.

Own the street with the 4.3-powered S-10.

The 4.3 was so powerful that time slowed down just by mentioning it!

Related video:

Chevrolet S-10 Information

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