Complete History Of The Chevy S-10 PIckup Truck

Today, the historic Chevy S-10 pickup truck appeals to auto enthusiasts around the world. It became the first genuinely compact pickup ever built on U.S. soil by a leading automaker. The S-10 underwent extensive permutations during its development. This pickup inspired versions of the Colorado in some overseas markets today.

A Quick Overview of Chevrolet Company History

Chevrolet began producing the Chevy S-10 in 1981. It marketed the truck for the first time as a 1982 model. Chevrolet served as an important division of one of the nation’s top three automakers, General Motors during this period.

Founding Chevrolet

On November 3, 1911, race car driver Louis Chevrolet joined auto executive William C. Durant and others to launch the Chevrolet Motor Car Company. By 1918, General Motors acquired a significant interest in the firm. Chevrolet became a General Motors division in 1916.

Auto Industry Success

Alfred Sloan, Jr. became President of General Motors in 1923. The firm, often known by its initials “GM”, prospered under his leadership. By 1929, General Motors surpassed the powerful Ford Motor Company in terms of its U.S. sales figures.

During the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s, General Motors competed with other automakers in North America. GM designed affordable vehicles for a mass market of consumers. The company started producing the sporty two-seat Chevrolet Corvette in 1953 and the innovative compact Chevrolet Corvair in 1960. Chevrolet exercised considerable influence over the U.S. auto industry during the 1950s, the 1960s, and the 1970s, too.

A Changing Era

Chevrolet released the Chevy S-10 pickup under the tenure of innovative (and controversial) CEO Roger B. Smith. High interest rates during the late 1970s impacted General Motors. The automaker initiated steps to streamline its products and cut costs by modernizing its production facilities and co-venturing with foreign manufacturers.

Even as the company introduced its compact S-10 pickup during the 1980s, GM began scaling back on the production of medium and large trucks. Several GM divisions underwent consolidation during this period:

  • Chevrolet
  • Oldsmobile
  • Pontiac
  • Buick
  • Cadillac

This transformation ultimately impacted the development of the “S” series (and the Chevy S-10).

A Complete Exploration of Different Chevy S10 Body Styles And More!

The Chevy S-10 underwent extensive appearance changes during its history, as did the closely related S-15 series. Automakers frequently modify popular brands in order to maintain currency. Consider 27 body types and special packages influenced to varying degrees by the Chevy S-10:

Chevy S10 1st Generation - Short Bed

1. Chevy S-10 Regular Cab Truck: Both the first and the second generation Regular Cab accommodated either a short bed or a long bed. The cab transported up to three people on a bench type seat but it also came with bucket seats instead. The regular cab pickup was a little too tight and uncomfortable for a tall person. Personally, I always preferred the Extended cab because I am 6′ 1″ tall and always felt crammed in in a Regular Cab.

2. Chevy S-10 Short Bed Truck: The short bed rested on a wheelbase of 108.3 inches with a Regular Cab, or on 122.9 inch wheelbase when used with an Extended Cab. The short bed is only 72.40 inches long, that is a little over 6 feet, and it is great for recreational use but is too small for any semi-serious pickup needs.

Chevy S10 1st Generation - Long Bed

3. Chevy S-10 Long Bed Truck: The Regular Cab truck with a long cargo bed measures 88.30 inches long which is a little over 7 feet long. Not quiet 8 feet you need to haul a piece of plywood but it is better than a short bed for utility purposes.

Chevy S10 1st Generation - Extended Cab

4. Chevy S-10 Extended Cab Truck: The Extended Cab only permitted the use of a short truck bed. It first became available during the 1983 model year. Starting in the 1996 model truck, it offered a standard “third” door on the driver’s side for easier access to the area behind the seats.

Chevy S10 2nd Generation - Crew Cab

5. Chevy S-10 Crew Cab: This cab configuration offered seating for up to five people. It provided four passengers doors.

Chevy S10 1st Generation - Baja

6. Chevy S-10 Baja: GM offered this special appearance package as an option on any all-wheel drive Chevrolet S-10 pickup truck between 1988 and 1991. Customers selected Frost White, Midnight Black, or Apple Red. They received a tubular bumper and grille guard, plus an undercarriage shield and fog lamps. Additionally, this prestigious package offered body stripes, plus Baja decals and a banner for the windshield.

Chevy S10 1st Generation - Cameo

7. Chevy S-10 Cameo: A special appearance package for S-10 vehicles equipped with 2-wheel drive between 1989 and 1991, the S-10 Cameo featured the same paint colors as the Chevy S-10 Baja package. It sported a unique wraparound bumper and distinctive “Cameo” badging.

Chevy S10 1st Generation - Back Country

8. Chevy S-10 Back Country: A special appearance package for select Chevrolet S-10 vehicles, the Back Country only remained available for a single year. It included ground effects.

Chevy S10 1st Generation - Top Gun

9. Chevy S-10 Top Gun: Another special edition appearance package for specific Chevrolet S-10 trucks, the Top Gun package supplied a stylish grille and package emblems, plus unique ground effects.

Chevy S10 2nd Generation - SS

10. Chevy S-10 SS: Introduced as a sporty high performance special edition of the Chevy S-10 pickup in 1994 for Regular Cab trucks, this manufacturing run ended four years later. Customers chose among three exterior trims: Summit White, Onyx Black or Apple Red. These pickups included distinctive grilles. From 1996 to 1998 customers could request 16-inch wheels, too.

Chevy S10 2nd Generation - ZR2

11. Chevy S-10 ZR2: The GM ZR2 suspension package allowed customers purchasing Chevy S-10 and GMC Sonoma pickups to equip their vehicles for off road excursions. It included a number of distinctive features, such as 31″ special Goodyear Wrangler tires carrying the Duratrac label, a distinctive hood configuration, and skid plates.

Chevy S10 2nd Generation - Xtreme

12. Chevy S-10 Xtreme: GM produced these stylish S-10 pickups between 1999 and 2004 in the USA for regular and extended cab configurations. These vehicles sported 16-inch wheels. These trucks received GM’s ZQ8 sports suspension package. It offered front and rear sway bars.

Chevy S10 1st Generation - 2.8L

13. Chevy S-10 2.8L: The Chevy S-10 4.3 Liter Vortec engine largely replaced this first generation engine package, General Motors eventually ceased using this product in Chevy S-10 pickup trucks.

Chevy S10 1st Generation - 4.3L

14. Chevy S-10 4.3L: This special engine for the 2-wheel version of the GMC Sonoma achieved up to 195 horsepower.


GMC S15 2nd Gen - Sonoma

15. GMC S-15 Sonoma: This vehicle served as the General Motors Corporation version of the Chevrolet S-10. GM produced a virtually identical body appearance, except for the brand logo.

GMC S15 1st Gen - Sonoma GT

16. GMC S-15 Sonoma GT: The Sonoma GT consisted of a performance package. Available only for the short-bed, 2-wheel drive configuration of the GMC Sonoma, it offered 195 horsepower (through the use of a Vortec 4.3 Liter engine).

GMC S15 2nd Gen - ZRX Street Rider

17. GMC S-15 Sonoma ZRX Street Rider: A limited edition of the GMC S-15 Sonoma truck, this appearance package created a distinctive, prestigious presentation. Its chief feature included bed rails, plus sporty ZRX decals and badging. Only 2003 Quad Cab style compact Sonoma pickups qualified for this package.

GMC S15 2nd Gen - ZQ8

18. GMC S-15 Sonoma ZQ8: GM offered this sports suspension package for its Chevy S-10 and GMC S-15 Sonoma compact pickup trucks. It included an anti-sway bar in both the front and the rear, as well as enhanced shock absorption technology. Extended cab models received a special brace to support off road use. Springs in the front and the rear and modified tires resulted in a 2-inch stance change.

GMC S15 1st Gen - Sierra

19. GMC S-15 Sierra: This line of pickups first sold in 1982 in North America and carried the S-15 designation. In 1991 the Sierra trim was dropped and changed to Sonoma because the Sierra name was used for the full size truck.

20. GMC S-15 Gypsy Magic: GM offered this special appearance package specifically for its GMC S-15 models. It supplied door and seat panel logos.

GMC S15 1st Gen - Syclone

21. GMC S-15 Syclone: General Motors manufactured this limited-edition run of high performance compact pickups during 1991 and 1992. The truck’s body measured 180.5 inches in length, 64.8 inches in width, and 5 feet in maximum height. The Syclone consisted of a 2-door GMC Sonoma truck with anti-lock brakes and a front engine mounted on a 108.3 inch wheelbase.

Chevy S10 1st Generation - Blazer

Chevy S10 2nd Generation - BlazerChevy S10 2nd Generation - Blazer 4 Door

22. Chevy S-10 Blazer: Produced between 1982 and 2005, the Chevrolet S-10 Blazer offered two generations of compact and mid-sized sports utility vehicles. The former ended in 1994, replaced by a larger mid-sized 1995 body style. Customers selected the first generation in both 2-door and 4-door styles, using either a 105-inch or a 107-inch wheelbase respectively. The second generation ended in 2001 in the USA, but continued until 2012 in Brazil. Customers selected either a 2-door or a larger 4-door model.

GMC S15 1st Generation - Jimmy

23. GMC S-15 Jimmy: This SUV model represented a more luxurious version of the Chevrolet S-10 Blazer. First introduced in 1970, the full-sized version ultimately became a predecessor of the Yukon. However, a compact S-15 model reached the U.S. market in 1982. Extensively re-designed in 1995, in 2002 it eventually inspired the luxurious Envoy.

24. GMC S-15 Jimmy Magic: This special appearance package allowed owners of a GMC S-15 Jimmy to distinguish their vehicles in a prestigious way with logos.

Oldsmobile Bravada 1gen Oldsmobile Bravada 2gen

25. Oldsmobile Bravada: Considered a “rebadged” version of two other SUVs, the GMC Jimmy and the Chevrolet Blazer, this mid-sized sports utility vehicle falls into the luxury class. General Motors manufactured three generations of the Bravada between 1990 and 2004. It featured four passenger doors and a rear lift gate on a 107-inch wheelbase. GM expanded the wheelbase to 113 inches in 2002.

Isuzu Hombre

26. Isuzu Hombre: Sometimes described as a “rebadged” Chevrolet S10, Isuzu offered the Hombre in North America between 1994 and 2004 in both 4×2 and 4×4 configurations. Customers selected either a Regular or an Extended cab. The Hombre ultimately did not generate robust sales.

How The Syclone Competed With Ferrari

Chevy S10 GMC Syclone vs FerrariIn 1991, General Motors created a high performance version of the S-10. The GMC Syclone took the form of a sporty 2-door GMC Sonoma truck equipped with a turbocharged engine and four wheel drive. Its 4.3 Liter V6 engine interfaced with a four-speed automatic transmission. The compact truck generated 280 horsepower.

General Motors manufactured only 2,998 models of its Syclone during 1991 and 1992. When Car and Driver conducted a race between the Syclone and a Ferrari 348 to determine which vehicle would accelerate faster, the GMC truck prevailed. The online encyclopedia Wikipedia reports the May 24, 1992 Indianapolis 500 race featured three special edition Indy Syclones, a tribute to the high performance properties of a now-collectible model.

The Replacement of the Chevy S-10 With The Chevy Colorado

2004 Chevrolet ColoradoThe Chevy S-10 belongs to Chevrolet’s “S” series. This family of vehicles includes the S-15 GMC lines (including the GMC Sonoma), the high-performance GMC Syclone, and closely related SUV versions manufactured by GM. Some experts also include Japanese automaker Isuzu’s Hombre in this category.

The production of “S” series vehicles ended in North America in 2004. At that time, GM introduced the Chevrolet Colorado and the closely related GMC Canyon to replace the Chevy S-10 and the GMC S-15 Sonoma compact pickup trucks. These new designs eventually evolved from a compact form into mid-sized pickups in the North American marketplace.

A New Generation of Chevy S-10 Pickup Trucks

2020 Chevrolet S10Today, fans of the Chevy S-10 discover descendants of this awesome pickup available for sale in Brazil and other South American auto markets. Although the manufacture of the S Series ceased in Brazil in 2012, the Chevrolet Colorado still carries the prestigious S-10 name there. Today, Chevrolet markets a version of the 2017 S-10 as the Holden Colorado in Australia and New Zealand.