A Brief History of 1988-1994 GM Trucks
The late 1980s was a transitional time when poor quality vehicles with little horsepower and less than desirable designs were commonplace. By the middle of the decade, advances in technology helped bring conveniences, safety, and increases in horsepower. Before the late 1980s, the average truck was very utilitarian. Many trucks didn’t have seatbelts, air conditioning or radios, and the ones that did still had sloppy steering, heavy brakes and lacked sound-dampening among other modern features. Trucks were generally known to be noisy and uncomfortable to drive.
In the early part of the 1980s, GM had already been working on making their existing trucks more comfortable by adding upgrade packages with many convenient features. By the mid-1980s, GM was also working on their next-generation trucks that began featuring more technology and conveniences that were found in most cars. The new designs were aimed at being more technologically advanced, more comfortable and generally more aligned with standards that consumers came to expect from the rest of the General Motor’s lineup. Initial planning began in the early part of the 1980s, and product development began in 1984. The new design was designated as the GMT400 and kept the C/K name badge — with C meaning two-wheel drive and K meaning four-wheel drive.
These trucks were a giant step forward from the older square body design and featured independent front suspension and extensive use of galvanized steel to reduce rust. The frames were fully welded and included boxed front sections which added to the rigidity of the overall vehicle. The new GMT400 design was more aerodynamic and featured a more comfortable interior with electronic speedometers, button-operated climate control and modern radio control systems that mounted beside the instrument panel for easy access.
Throughout years, GM continually improved on the GMT400 platform by gradually increasing horsepower and adding sport packages coupled with additional paint tones. The 1988 model was the first GM truck to offer an extended cab, with later years offering a three-door option.
Why These Trucks are Great Buys Today
The 1988-94 GMT400 series were some of the most popular trucks ever produced. As of 2017, there were over 1 million 1988-94 GM trucks registered and still on the road. They were famous for their durability and reliability. A Wisconsin man once reported logging over 1,000,000 miles on his 1991 C1500 without ever needing a major repair.
These trucks still feature a timeless design that looks great lowered or lifted. Nice examples can still be had for around $5,000 which leaves lots of room for customization. Aftermarket parts are inexpensive and easy to find. Products range from lift/lowering kits and performance products to aftermarket digital gauges and radios that match the look and feel of the interior while bringing modern features like Bluetooth® and SiriusXM satellite radio.
RetroSound® Santa Cruz Radio
Trucks are all the rage, and just a few years ago the square body trucks were extremely affordable. But now low-mileage survivors, restored or custom square bodies can fetch more than $20,000. The 1988-94 GM trucks are starting to rise in price, and they will likely follow the example of the now popular square body trucks. They make great trucks to customize and are reliable enough to drive on a daily basis.