Collector Car Corner – 1965 Chevy Pickup with slide-in camper memories

Collector Car Corner - 1965 Chevy Pickup with slide-in camper memories
Collector Car Corner - 1965 Chevy Pickup with slide-in camper memories

In the 1960s, camper companies and truck manufacturers like Chevrolet worked hand-in-hand promoting each other’s products. (Ad compliments of Chinook Campers).

Q: Greg I’m wondering if you can give me some information on a truck and camper my friend used to own but sold eight years ago. I am retired now and enjoy the collector car hobby very much, including the popularity of the pickup trucks from the 1940s through the 1970s.

My buddy had a 1965 Chevy C20 3/4-Ton pickup with a 292 inch 6-cylinder engine with a four-speed. It had a factory limited slip rear end and also came with factory-tinted glass. He used it as his daily driver until 2009 when he sold it.

It may not have been perfect, but I would say it was in very good condition as he “babied” it in every manner. Even the oak wood bed was not rotted out, but probably should have been replaced from years of use. The original owner’s manual and build sheet for the truck went with the sale.

Most unique, however, was that the 1965 C20 also had a 1965 Chinook 8.5-foot overhead slip in camper that went with the sale as he used to camp a lot during the warm months. Everything in the camper worked and he took care of it very well. It needed nothing and was purchased brand new also in 1965. 

I am wondering if you have ever seen anything like this in your travels today and do you have an idea what it would be worth nowadays? Thank you for your time. John M., Illinois.

A: John, I’ve answered hundreds of reader questions over the years, but yours is only the second question dealing with a popular pickup from the 1960s and a corresponding old camper on top of it, both purchased new in 1965.

Although I’m no expert on antique campers, I did see one similar to your friend’s on eBay for $2,500 recently, but I am not sure about any special market for antique campers. However, I’m sure some of our camper readers can let us know about the hobby of collector campers. With all this said, the addition of the Chinook slide-in camper did make your friend’s vehicle combination unique in the fact that what he owned back then was really top shelf RV camping in the pre-motor home era.

RV weekends in the 1960s usually meant either the neat very collectible Volkswagen Bus / Campers or the first wave of motor homes, which were a far cry from the rolling “mansions of the road” that travel today’s freeways.  

And speaking of today and the market for trucks, the pickup trucks have become very popular collector vehicles and boomed in price more so than the cars. Additionally, as mentioned above, that great condition Chinook camper on top of a 1960s style pickup won’t hurt the value by any means.

According to recent pricing, your friend’s 1965 Chevy C20 pickup is listed as $21,420, which is the average retail price on NADA Classic vehicle pricing. I’d then add another $3,500 for the excellent condition antique camper, the latter which is just a guess on my part. The bottom line is your friend had a great 1965 Chevy pickup and matching camper and whoever bought it in 2009 is probably sitting on a unit with a book value worth in the neighborhood of $24,400 today to the right buyer. It could be worth more or less depending on what the buyer is willing to pay as I have emphasized many times that prices listed in classic car guides are estimates at best. (Someone might be able to buy the entire unit for $15K, which would be on the lower end of NADA pricing). Additionally, the high retail for the truck alone is $52,200 with the 292 six and $57,800 if it has the 327-V8, in pristine shape of course.

I would also think that perhaps a major RV dealer would look at this type of truck and camper combo as a showroom attraction here in the year 2017. I’ll bet a close-up look at camping and pickup truck RV adventures from a 1965 perspective would garner some real attention in a modern day RV showroom.

In ending, that 292 inline six cylinder engine in the 1965 Chevy pickup was just the third ever generation of the popular inline six cylinders by Chevy, which dated all the way back to the 1929 “Stovebolt” six.

Good luck, and thanks for your question.

(Greg Zyla is a syndicated auto columnist. He welcomes reader questions at 303 Roosevelt St., Sayre, Pa. 18840 or email at greg@gregzyla.com. Check out Greg’s homepage at http://www.zylamotorsports.com for more of his collector car and auto racing columns and interviews.)

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