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The Evolution Of The OBS What Is The Major Differences in ’88-’98 Chevy Trucks?

In my opinion, 1988 was the exact year that jump-started the street truck era with the release of the all-new re-designed GM trucks commonly known as the “OBS” (Original Body Style, Old Body Style). This redesign by GM officially made a truck more than just a tool on the farm. It sparked the creation of an entire culture of automotive enthusiasts, and the street truck/sport truck movement was born. The GMT400 is said to have influenced GM designers long after they were no longer produced, and for good reason! We believe to this day they are the best-looking trucks on the road, we may be a little biased though!

Over its more than 10-year span of production, these trucks just got better and better in terms of design, comfort, reliability, power and safety. Although GM made a ton of changes both cosmetically and mechanically to the GMT400 trucks, we’ll hit the high points of the changes made throughout the years. We wanted to break down all the biggest and best changes between the ’88-’94 and ’94-’98 trucks. So let’s dive deep into the timeline of this timeless truck.

What is an OBS?

(Old Body Style or Original Body Style)

OBS refers to Chevy C/K trucks that were manufactured by General Motors between the years of 1988 and 1998. Marketed under the Chevrolet and GMC brands, the C/K series included a wide range of vehicles including a chevy truck and two SUV models. While most commonly associated with pickup trucks, the model line also included medium-duty and heavy trucks. “C” denoted a two-wheel drive; “K” denoted four-wheel drive.

’88-’98 Chevy There were eight different versions of the C/K line for 1988: Fleetside Single Cab, Fleetside Extended Cab, Fleetside Crew Cab and Stepside Single Cab models, each in either 2WD or 4WD drive-lines. Three trim levels were available for these trucks including Cheyenne, Scottsdale and Silverado.

In 1990 GM retired the dual glass headlights in favor of a composite headlight with a serviceable bulb.

This is also when Chevy began offering their high back bucket seats as an option.

’88-’98 Chevy

However, the most notable thing from the year 1990 was GM’s release of the 454 SS, Sport and Sierra GT packages, all of which are highly sought after now.

In 1992 GM redesigned the gauge cluster, which included a tachometer.

454 SS, Sport Sierra

1993 was the last year for the 454 SS, Sport and Sierra GT packages and the first and only year for one of GM’s rarest production trucks ever made the Indianapolis 500 Pace Truck package.  GM only produced a little over 1,500, making the Indy Pace truck one of the rarest GM Production trucks ever to roll off the assembly line.

Controlled transmission

In 1993, GM also went to an electronically controlled transmission, better known as the 4L60, for improved reliability.

In 1994, both Chevrolet and GMC trucks across the board received a facelift via a re-designed grille and the addition of a third brake light option for safety. A cargo lamp was now standard.

1995 brought the GMT400 to an entirely new level with a completely redesigned interior that included a driver’s side airbag and optional CD player for added safety and convenience. The interior door panels received a noticeable re-design as well.

1995 also brought the newer style composite breakaway style mirrors.

Quite possibly the best update to the OBS came in 1996, more power!  Enter the Vortec line of engines for OBS trucks via central port fuel injection, roller cam, higher compression ratio, better flowing heads and an all-around better engine.

Over its more than 10-year span of production, these trucks just got better and better in terms of design, comfort, reliability, power and safety.

Aside from that, GM introduced an optional third door for the extended cab trucks. If you’ve ever tried to climb in the back seat of an extended cab OBS, you can definitely appreciate this offering.

Interior on a 88" to 98" Chevy Truck

Also an update for the 4×4 guys in 1996 was the push button four wheel drive option.

1997 brought to us the optional passenger side airbag, variable speed assisted steering and better cooling for the 6.5L turbo diesel trucks.

In 1989, a Sport Equipment Package was available on either C/K1500 fleetside shortbed single cab models. The package featured a black grille with red outlined bow-tie emblem, black moldings outlined in red, body color front and rear bumpers, black mirrors and “SPORT” identification decals on the box and on the tailgate. There were no suspension or engine upgrades provided with any of the sport packages as this was an appearance only option.

Notable Moments in the C/K Timeline

1988

Chevy CheyenneThe Work Truck (W/T) was introduced in 1988, which featured a single cab long bed with Cheyenne trim and a new grille with black bumpers. Check out a tech article for this Chevy! 

’88-’95

Throttle body(TBI) fuel injection was used on ‘88-’95 gas engines.

1998

In 1998, to circumvent the rise in auto thefts, GM introduced the Pass Lock II system with a “security” light on the dash to the 88” to 98″ Chevy Trucks.

’96-’00

CPI (central point injection) was used on the ‘96-’00 4.3L-V6, 5.0L-V8, 5.7L-V8

1997

1997 was to be the last year the C/K Silverado would display “CHEVROLET” on the tailgate

 

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