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My 18 year old son wants to buy a 1883 Chevy Sierra Classic…it has 73k miles on it and looks fantastic…it lives in Virginia…his friend’s grandfather owned it…$750. sales price…but …is it safe?

The truck is a 1983 GMC 2500 6.2L Diesel with mechanical injectors, glow

plugs, automatic Transmission, power steering, power windows & an engine

block heater. It is a full sized truck with a standard long bed. Mileage

is apprx 75,000. I was told it has a heavier suspension /radiator for

towing but I don’t know that for certain.

Patrick’s Grandfather bought the truck new but did not drive it a lot

later in his life. While in Idaho it was kept in the garage most of the

time so the body is in decent condition. The 6.2 diesel didn’t have a

lot of power so when I got it in 2005 (@ 65,000 miles) I had the diesel

shop install an aftermarket turbo kit by Banks

(http://ban…how/156/11 ) That improved the

performance a good deal. Hoses and fan belts were changed out.

Tires have 10,000 miles and are in good condition.

Two 18 gal saddle tanks

Two wheel rearend drive

Shell is in good condition (note: one locking bracket needs to be


Engine temperature gauge is not working because it was disconnected when

the shop installed the turbo. Two additional gauges were added with the

turbo ( Boost and exhaust temperature)

Mechanical fuel pump was replaced with an electrical fuel pump which has

improved the running of the engine.

2 interstate batteries about three years old and are strong

Truck has never been in an accident.

Drivers slide electric window motor replaced.

About 17 MPG open road


The truck is a tank with a long turning radius. It is a beast to

maneuver in a parking lot and the back end is light in the snow.

Diesels are strong but slow to accelerate. You will not win any races. A

smart car can beat it off the line. A Diesel runs rough until they

reach operating temperatures. Never start it until the glow plug come up

to temperature. It is always noisy no matter what the engine temp.

Because it is a 1983, parts have fatigued. I have maintained the truck

but I “cannot” predict the next failure. Common parts( oil filter, air

filter, wiper blades,… ) can be found. Other items like range from

more difficult to find to impossible. Sometime a substitute will work

(an electrical fuel pump for a Mechanical fuel pump)

I was hoping to get around $1,000 but I’ll sell it to you $750. It runs

well but is old.

Any advise will be greatly appreciated…I have pictures if you need them…Ned’s Mom

First, can you please clarify how many trucks you are talking about?

Is it just the 1883 (I am guessing it is actually a 1983 model) Chevy Sierra Classic, or is it also the 1983 GMC 2500 Diesel?

Your post is very confusing.

Why are you concerned? The truck is slow, that’s a good thing when being driven by a teenage boy. It is a big truck, so even without airbags and modern safety stuff it is prety safe. Your son should be told he must wear the seat belts - passengers too. If it dies it only cost $750. These old trucks can be kept going a long time.

He can make money using the truck to haul stuff and “clean out basements” etc. I don’t see a problem?

17 mpg on the open road. Figure maybe 12 to 15 around town. The low purchase price will be offset by the high fuel cost, and filling two 18 gallon tanks will cost almost $100 each time. Can your son afford to drive something like this?

The aftermarket turbo may improve power but it’s unlikely to improve reliability, and it will make service more difficult. Many mechanics don’t like to work on modified engines.

Does it snow in your area? The truck will be a handful in the snow.

Is it safe? Sure, unless he gets hit by a semi. But in that case nothing will protect him.

Talk to your insurance agent about this, and see how much insurance will cost before anyone spends any money.

Keeping this truck fed would be my main concern. Diesel is expensive.

sorry about that…yes, it is a 1983 chevy sierra classic…

thank you for responding so quickly…emotionally, i guess i am uncomfortable with buying something that old…my guess is there may not even be headrests in it and on the practical side…it must be difficult to get parts for it…

thank you for your prompt and informative response…i will pass this information along to my son…~laura

You should be aware that this generation of Chevrolet pickups have the “notorious” side-saddle fuel tanks which sit outside of the frame rails, thus making them very prone to puncture in the event of a side collision. That is the bad news.

The good news is that diesel fuel does not have the flammability of gasoline, so this shouldn’t be as dangerous as it would be if it was gas-powered. However, when you consider both the very poor traction that these trucks have on a wet roadway, coupled with those puncture-prone fuel tanks, this truck is not exactly a safety-oriented vehicle.

Hopefully your son will drive it VERY conservatively and will always wear his safety belt.

wow…thank you so much…I never would have known this…I really appreciate your time and knowledge…~laura

It is a pick up truck, who needs headrests? It does not have safety features, it is just big and that gives it some safety. No airbags, no ABS brakes on this old boy. Most parts won’t be that tough to find. Chevy and GMC made a bunch of these things. The turbo on the diesel motor might get tricky, but it’s there now.

It is cheap, but it will use a lot of fuel - all big pickups are gas (or in this case diesel) hogs. If you live in suburbia, or better yet in a rural area the truck will be OK. Hard to park, yeah. Will it break, probably. Stuff like brakes, bearings, alternators, should be pretty easy to find when something needs fixing.

Probably the most important safety items are the brakes and steering gear. Make sure the brakes work ok and have a mechanic check all the brake lines for rust, corrosion, and the rubber brake lines for rot. The steering should be tight and the same mechanic can check the ball joints, and steering for loose parts, and/or excessive “play” in the steering wheel.

One good thing though is, since the vehicle is so old, there’s probably several shops that can retrofit the gas tanks and put them in a safer location. Maybe even put in 4 wheel drive should your son wish it. Just because it’s old doesn’t mean there isn’t an aftermarket setup for the vehicle, and they’ll probably be cheaper than OEM items, IF you can find them.


original equipment. Basically, factory replacement parts from the dealership

ahhhh…thank you again…

Somebody mentioned headrests. This IS a safety concern if it is a regular cab, which it probably is. I knew a guy who got rearended in his 1984 Chevy Scottsdale (same truck) by someone going 60mph while he was stopped. He broke the back window out of the truck with his head and got a pretty serious concussion out of it. On a side note, I have seen a lot of these trucks retrofitted with bucket seats out of a passenger car. I used to have a 1971 Chevy truck with bucket seats out of a Cavalier. It’s not hard to do, and you can even add a center console. That could be a woodshop project for him if he’s still in school…