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Our Idea Of An All-Around Vehicle: This 454-Powered, Manual Trans Chevrolet K3500 4×4 Is The Perfect Antidote To The Crossover!

Our Idea Of An All-Around Vehicle: This 454-Powered, Manual Trans Chevrolet K3500 4×4 Is The Perfect Antidote To The Crossover!

The reason why sport-utility vehicles and crossovers have gained so much in popularity over the years is due to the fact that they compress into one vehicle what the buying public wants: storage space, cargo space, the ability to seat more than four, and still have a semblance of sporty driving and off-road capability. We can appreciate all of the effort that the manufacturers put into designing these types of vehicles, but let’s be honest: we aren’t exactly fans. That’s not to say that we can’t find a vehicle that ticks off multiple boxes for us…in fact, we found one that’s just about perfect! The seller claims that it’s a 1989 Chevrolet K-3500, but we aren’t so sure…we thought that the GMT400-style dually pickup didn’t appear until 1992. But that’s nit-picking a truck that we’d go nuts over. Let’s look at why:

It’s a classic: Even if it was a 1993, the last year of the GMT400 that didn’t have a third brake light, it still means that this big Chevy is 23 years old. Add the fact that the GMT400 was wildly popular when it was being sold, and you have a winner without doing anything. We dig the W/T front end instead of the more common split-bar grille and headlight assembly..it gives the truck an aggressive look.


It’s capable: From front to back, this truck came off of the line to work. A one-ton single-cab dually with the 454ci V8, five-speed manual, four-wheel-drive, the W/T package, bench seat, rubber floors and crank windows…if that doesn’t scream out “fleet sales”, we don’t know what does. Whoever ordered this dually new had plans for it from the start. And those plans were realized: look in the bed and check out that 5th wheel/goose neck kit.



It’s a muscle truck: 235 horsepower and 385 ft/lbs of torque might seem kind of weak, but that 454 has plenty to give, and it will perform all day long. And unlike a 454SS, you get a five-speed manual backing this one. It’s no Tremec six-speed, but you still get to row your own in this dually. And it’s a factory tow package model…any guesses as to what rear gears are in this beast? It’s no Chevelle, but it’ll still get up and rock with a few tweaks.


It is versatile: Where this K3500 fails at the ability to haul more than two in comfort (would you want to be in the middle of that bench?), it makes up for with multiple vehicle roles. It’s a one-ton pickup. It’s a tow pig. It’s a four-by-four. It’s a big-block Chevy with three pedals. It’s a desirable classic and it is right on the good side of the difference between “easy to work on” and “how many computers?!” The interior can be rinsed out with a garden hose and wiped down with a wet cloth. The only thing we don’t care for is the early-version gauge package, but that can be dealt with easily enough.

So what do you think…how does a useful big-block dually sound when you compare it to a seven-seat crossover?

Craigslist Link: Chevrolet K3500 7.4L Dually 4×4


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4 thoughts on “Our Idea Of An All-Around Vehicle: This 454-Powered, Manual Trans Chevrolet K3500 4×4 Is The Perfect Antidote To The Crossover!

  1. Rustowner

    Nice truck! I’d buy it for sure. Love the fact they checked the right boxes for H/D components, but kept the low spec interior and exterior. FYI, 1988 was the 1st year for the “new” body style like this. Only the Blazer and the V3500 (crew cab) used the old square body style until 1991. These were a dramatic improvement over the square body trucks, but I truly wish GM had kept the solid front axle.

  2. Trailerqueen73

    Wow, I would love to have it! Lets see $60,000 plus for a new Truck or for $6500.00 you could have this beauty! Things were so much simple back then a time when you could actually work on your vehicle compared to todays crap!

  3. Loren

    Yep they offered the single- and extra-cab dually at the outset, was only a snipped-out bed side and a fiberglass fender away from the standard truck. The first really great-looking dually from any manufacturer. Unfortunately that’s no five-speed, the NV4500 was not available ’til ’91 and there would be the old SM465 in that truck unless somebody changed it.

    Our ’91 3/4-ton 4×4 was an excellent driving truck, far better than the previous generation either 2-by or 4wd. People dismiss the IFS, I personally loved it. But the extremely smog-tune-compromised 454 was a complete dog, sucking fuel in unbelievable amounts and overheating at the slightest load. Any 350-K truck would have kicked it’s ass. Even in great condition, with the big-block and non-overdrive trans there are probably good reasons this truck didn’t get driven much and with so many better trucks out there (including the newer/improved versions of the same thing) I wouldn’t give them anywhere near that asking price.

  4. floating doc

    I’ve got an 88 Silverado light duty C2500. As noted above, that was the first year built on the GMT400 platform.

    I didn’t know about the transmission, mine’s a 350/700R4. My neighbor has a very similar truck to this one rotting in his yard, work truck 88 in a one ton EXSB dually, with a 350 and turbo 400.

    I also thought this would be a NV4500, which is an overdrive, but a quick google search confirms the earlier observation that that transmission came on line in these trucks in 93. This would be a Muncie SM465, with 1:1 final ratio.

    I also have to agree with the preceding post about the engine. The 454 was a strangled pig by 89, and with the throttle body fuel injection, it would take a carb swap, aftermarket fuel injection conversion, or extensive modification and knowledgeable tuning to make good power.

    A carb swap on the 454 would pull your mileage to about 5-8 mpg empty. Perfectly tuned and driven like you’re delivering eggs, it might get 10 on the highway stock as it sits (just keep it at 60 or below). I had a 73 Cheyenne C2500 heavy duty with the 454/turbo 400 and all of the smog controls removed. It was lighter that this truck, without the 4×4 gear, and it had to stay at 55 or less to get over 9 mpg.

    As it sits, this would only work for the buyer if it was just needed for short distance, low speed towing.

    I’m really conflicted on this truck. I love the condition, it’s a super clean truck, and would be a good base for a project. An LQ4, LQ9, or even a fuel injected 383 swap would pull as well or better, and be cheaper to run. The problem is that by then you would be into it for at least $10-12,000. Add in an NV4500 swap, and you see the problem.

    After budgeting the upgrades, it’s obvious that I could buy a pretty nice, newer, rust free 4×4 with a lot better drive train.

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