It’s no secret that the custom truck scene is on fire right now with many different models creating their own niches. One of those being OBS trucks from a few decades ago. For those not in the know, you might be asking what truck this is and what does OBS mean? “Old But Sexy?” Sounds about right as a lot of older trucks are super attractive to us. However, the term actually means “Old Body Style.”
Now, this is where things get weird as the term has different means for two groups of enthusiasts. Ask a Ford person what an OBS truck is and he or she will tell you something different than a Chevy person. On top of that, the term Old Body Style is all relevant to time, even though it refers to a specific model right now.
Let’s start to break it down on the Chevy/GMC Truck side as it is the most confusing. Simply stated, OBS describes any full-sized General Motors truck (C1500, C2500 and C3500) or SUV produced between 1988 and 1998. The exception to this is the Tahoe, Suburban and Yukon SUVs that started production in 1992 and extended until 1999 before getting a remodel. The C3500HD crew cab pickup of the same body style also started in 1992 and ran all the way into the year 2002.
Back in the day, GM fans called these ’88-’98 haulers C/K trucks, which wasn’t exactly the best way to be specific about them. That is because C/K GM pickups go back as far as 1960 with the two-wheel drive “C” trucks and four-wheel drive “K” trucks. The C10 half-ton trucks are the most notable of the early generations and are more likely to be lowered while the 4x4 trucks often get lifted.
Though there are a bunch of namesakes for these ’88-’98 full-sized trucks, insiders at GM called the vehicles of this platform, GMT400. So, to be clear, when we say OBS Chevy or GMC, we are talking about the GMT400 and these trucks are red hot right now. There are also many different versions of them made over the years and the standard cab short bed configuration is by far the most popular.
The ultimate OBS package is the 454 SS, which is a limited production (under 17,000 total made) truck that was only available from 1990-1993. What makes this sporty two-door truck so special is that it’s powered by a 454ci small block engine for an extra kick in the pants. If this all sounds tempting and you want to jump into one, you might want to slow your roll as prices for them have skyrocketed past $30k now that they are considered a rare collector’s item.
When it comes to the marketplace for OBS Chevy and GMC Trucks, prices have dramatically risen in the last few years. Not too long ago you could pick one up for around $2,000 but that has changed as many landscapers and construction workers used and abused many of these trucks. Now it will take around $10,000-15,000 to fetch a decent project OBS.
If you are in the market, you’ll definitely want to pay attention to the condition of the body. Even if you are lucky to get a straight one, beware that many of these trucks have paint that has chipped off with time. This was a common issue as GM was experimenting with water-based paints for environmental issues and they had problems with the material losing adhesion with time. If you have a truck with this issue, do note that you will have to strip it in order to shine it up with a new paintjob.
Silly Chevy Fans, OBS is for Fords too
We’re not sure if the Ford guys or Chevy guys coined the OBS term first, but both do exist. On the Ford side, the 9th generation full-sized F-Series trucks produced from 1992-1996 are considered OBS. This would also include the Bronco models of this generation and the big trucks like the F-450, which extended into 1998.
So, why are these trucks so popular? Well, like their predecessors, the OBS Ford trucks were built strong and even had a Twin I-Beam front suspension for durability and comfort while driving off-road. Other than that, this was the last of the squarebody Ford trucks as the model that followed it was dramatically different and completely rounded.
Engines are also important for OBS Ford trucks as they had a lineup of heavy firepower under the hoods of these vehicles. On the low end was a 300ci inline 6 that was practically bulletproof. There was also a number V8s including a 302ci, 351ci Windsor or Cleveland (depending on year), and a 460ci big block. Topping the list is the 7.3L Powerstroke diesel engine, which is considered one of the best diesel engines to have ever been made.
Hot Rod Pickup
To keep up with GM, Ford had its answer to the 454 SS with the 1993-1995 SVT Lightning. Like the Chevy, these trucks are standard cab short bed versions with a powerful V8 under the hood. They are also rare as less than a total of 12,000 of them were made throughout the three years of production. These are also highly sought after, and prices are comparable to the 454 SS.