Home » Carry On Wayward Shitboxes: 1963 Volvo PV544 vs 1981 Chevy C60

Carry On Wayward Shitboxes: 1963 Volvo PV544 vs 1981 Chevy C60

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Welcome back to Shitbox Showdown! I’m at my aunt’s house just outside of Wichita, Kansas, I had a long day behind the wheel, and I’m a little punchy. So let’s look at the two strangest cheap vehicles I found on Wichita’s Craigslist.

It sounds like you all had a bit of a tough time choosing between yesterday’s Wyoming pickups. The Comanche won, but not by a whole lot. It was the stripes, wasn’t it? I know it was for me. That Comanche looks like a Stomper 4×4 come to life, and I can’t resist it.

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The big Ford took some hits for being “too much truck,” which isn’t a phrase I think a lot of people understand these days, if the past couple of days on I-80 and I-70 are any indication. I’ve never seen so many three-quarter-ton pickups in one place in my life. (Meanwhile, I was chugging along in my six-cylinder half-ton Chevy, towing 4,500 pounds and using every bit of capability it has.) I guess if you use it, it’s not too much, but for day-to-day just driving around, I would want that Super Duty either.

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Now then: I found a lot of boring used cars in Wichita, but I just couldn’t bring myself to write about them. So instead we have an old roundy Volvo and a big-ass truck. Hey, why not, right?

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1963 Volvo PV544 – $2,800

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Engine/drivetrain: 1.6 liter overhead valve inline 4, four-speed manual, RWD

Location: Wichita, KS

Odometer reading: 52,000 miles

Operational status: “I have driven it around the block several times but I wouldn’t drive it across town.”

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How is it that old Volvos are considered cool? They’re the dowdiest cars imaginable, not really sporting, not typically high-performance, perpetually ten years behind the times style-wise, and yet we all love them.

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I mean, sure, twin SU carburetors automatically grant any car a certain aura of cool. And sporty or not, Volvos have had more than their fair share of motorsports success. They’re also essentially indestructible, as far as anyone can tell. This PV544 runs and drives, technically, but the seller doesn’t feel confident venturing too far from home before the carburetors are rebuilt. That’s a piece of cake on SUs; it takes about an hour per carb, and then another hour of farting around getting them tuned.

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It’s a bit rough, but I’ve seen a lot worse. Reupholstered seats, new door panels, and some carpet would go a long way. I’ve always liked the shift lever on these, the way it enters the tunnel so far forward and then angles way back to the driver. It just looks cool. I can’t explain exactly why.

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Outside, it has kind of a half-assed rat rod thing going on. At first I thought someone had painted it primer black, but considering how much of the trim is present, I think that’s the original paint and it’s just that dull. The rear bumper is bent and the front bumper is MIA, but the seller is right: it looks better without them. It would also look better with different wheels. Almost anything would be better.

1981 Chevrolet C60 – $5,000

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Engine/drivetrain: 350 cubic inch overhead valve V8, four-speed manual, RWD

Location: Wichita, KS

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Odometer reading: unknown

Operational status: unknown

So how old were you when you realized that these medium-duty trucks have the same cab and doors as regular light-duty trucks? If the answer is “just now when you  mentioned it,” that’s okay. Part of our mission here is to educate. But yes, this is a C-series “squarebody” truck, just a lot bigger and burlier than you’re used to seeing. It’s a Class 5 truck, with a gross vehicle weight rating  between 16,001 and 19,500 pounds, compared to 6,000 for a typical half-ton or 8,000 for a three-quarter.

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It also looks like it uses the same dashboard as a typical squarebody, but with a much bigger steering wheel and some extra stuff. The ad lists this truck as an automatic, but it’s clearly a manual, probably a four-speed, most likely a heavier-duty version of the same SM465 that I spent all day shifting. The seller doesn’t specify the engine, and a whole lot of options were available, but a quick lookup of the VIN seems to indicate that this one has a garden-variety 350. They also make no mention of whether or not it runs, so your guess is as good as mine.

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It looks like this C60 is equipped with a dump bed, which means that one of the SM465’s two PTO ports is taken up by a hydraulic pump. Those two knobs under the steering column probably control everything. When we were kids, the dump bed was actuated by a little lever alongside the bed, but the real thing is just a little more involved.

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What are you supposed to do with an old dump truck that may or may not run? I have no idea. But you can’t tell me that your inner eight-year-old doesn’t think it’s insanely cool.

I’m here in Kansas through the weekend; we’re having a little family reunion/memorial get-together for my dad, and then I continue eastward with the move. Sunday night, I’ll probably be somewhere in the St. Louis area, or maybe southern Illinois, depending on how far I get. Wherever I stop, that’s where Monday’s cars will be. In the meantime, have a good weekend, and don’t forget to vote!

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(Image credits: Craigslist sellers)

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Anyunusedusername
Anyunusedusername
20 days ago

Man that PV looks like a prime candidate for an EV conversion. If I only had space… I’d have another five unfinished projects!

67 Oldsmobile
67 Oldsmobile
20 days ago

I voted for the Volvo because that sounds like a decent price for a running one,and my grandfather had one of these when they were probably still sort of new.
The truck is cooler I guess,but I would never be able to use it.

Slow Joe Crow
Slow Joe Crow
22 days ago

There’s a possibility that the C60 has the 366 truck engine, which is a shrunken Mark IV big block analogous to the Ford 370.

Here4thecars
Here4thecars
22 days ago

I voted Volvo, mostly for sentimental reasons, as my mom drove us around in one of these in the early 70’s.

Freelivin2713
Freelivin2713
22 days ago

I’ll take the Volvo since it’s pretty unique and I love that shifter too…I have no use for the C60 but still think it’s awesome especially being a Chevy. If I DID have a use for it, I wouldn’t be averse to buying it
Glad it’s going good Mark!
Every time I hear Wichita, I automatically think of Planes, Trains and Automobiles!

SirRaoulDuke
SirRaoulDuke
22 days ago

Honestly, that’s not a terrible price for a grain truck that still has some life left.

Smallblockeight
Smallblockeight
22 days ago

My stable includes classic Volvos and classic Chevy trucks. Based on this experience both of these are too much money but the Volvo less so. There’s one of these C60’s for sale on my way to work, looks roadworthy and the owner was asking $1500. Sat for a year so he raised the price to $2500. Two years later it’s still for sale.

lastwraith
lastwraith
20 days ago

Sat for a year so he RAISED the price $1k?!? Interesting approach there.

Dirk from metro Atlanta
Dirk from metro Atlanta
22 days ago

Carry on, non-wayward son. I have literally been there and done that about a decade ago myself, albeit in a bedroom community outside that fair burg. I don’t think I’ll ever have reason to return, but the Great Plains will always be a part of me.

Oh, and the Volvo, just because I guess I never had a chance to watch a dump bed up close and personal so I never especially cared. With the money saved one could have it looking better (yeah, lose the wheels) and tuned up, probably.

And I like dowdy. YMMV.

Scott Ashley
Scott Ashley
22 days ago

Speaking of too much truck… The Volvo looks cool though.

Thebloody_shitposter
Thebloody_shitposter
22 days ago

I owe my existence to a Volvo PV544, the only reason my mom agreed to go on a blind date with my dad because he drove a “nice car”. Joke was on her though, my dad had to work on that shitbox almost monthly to keep it running.

Dodd Lives
Dodd Lives
22 days ago

Chevy for the memories! As soon as I saw it, I got my hopes up that it might be a Detroit Diesel of some configuration and not a common SBC. I spent a lot of time in my youth behind the wheel of a Chevy grain truck of about the same vintage, but powered by a Detroit 4-53 – a 212 cubic inch 4-cylinder two-stroke diesel, running through a 4-speed Allison automatic. Underpowered? You bet. With a full load, you’d be lucky to make 55 mph on the highway. But the soundtrack – that glorious Screamin’ Jimmy sound…

Luca
Luca
22 days ago

Volvo all the way – way cheaper and PV544’s are thin on the ground. My Grandma and Grunkle had ones – they called them Elephant Farts for the noises they’d make.

Have y’all/would y’all ever make an article on the design and matching of wheel rims to cars? It’s something I’ve never quite understood – I hope I’m not alone – but people seem to get real up-in-arms about.

Obviously the 5 spokes are out of place on the Volvo, but like so many cars with non-stock wheels I think they look fine. Not amazing, not great, but not offensive!

Dirk from metro Atlanta
Dirk from metro Atlanta
21 days ago
Reply to  Luca

They’re not terrible on this Volvo, it just seems that selling them and using the proceeds for something more of its time and place seems doable.

Luca
Luca
21 days ago

It’d be one of the first things I’d do, I just can’t place why besides being period correct.

Last edited 21 days ago by Luca
EastbayLoc
EastbayLoc
22 days ago

I vote the dump truck just so I can go the the fanciest restaurant in town and ask them to valet that bad boy! Front row please!

And when a friend inevitably asks if I can help them move, I’ll say sure, load up there stiff and use the dump lever to unload on their front yard. Good times.

Last edited 22 days ago by EastbayLoc
Mechjaz
Mechjaz
22 days ago

There’s a gorgeous International dump truck up for sale off the road on the way to a friend’s house. I threaten to buy it every time, and she says what are you gonna do with a dump truck, and then I find new friends because no real friend would ask a question like that

Rabob Rabob
Rabob Rabob
22 days ago
Reply to  Mechjaz

I’d probably get some plywood and make it into a really ratchet camper

Cam.man67
Cam.man67
22 days ago

Chevy all the way. I hauled grain in a ‘75 C60 for an old farmer a few years back, and that thing was a blast to drive. It had a 366, 5+2 (though the 2-speed rear was stuck in low), and brakes that more or less worked. We overloaded the crap out of that thing and it just kept on working. Good times.

Disphenoidal
Disphenoidal
22 days ago

I’ve seen many used car listings describe an automatic as a manual. This is the first time I’ve seen the reverse.

Jj
Jj
22 days ago
Reply to  Disphenoidal

It’s always the best Porsche in your price range until you see the picture of the center console.

Lizardman in a human suit
Lizardman in a human suit
22 days ago

Give me the old grain truck. They are handy. Added bonus, the sides are removable, so flatbed and dump truck all in one.

Bizness Comma Nunya
Bizness Comma Nunya
22 days ago

The Autopian should do an unholy fail article about the Detroit Diesel 8.2’s that were optional on these Chevy trucks. An engine with such a bad rep, there really isn’t a huge amount of info readily available compared to its peers.

Mr. Canoehead
Mr. Canoehead
22 days ago

Rare Classic Cars did a video about that dumpster fire:

https://youtu.be/p39Si2fl9a4?si=MbrP4vWFDNrp-Un9

Bizness Comma Nunya
Bizness Comma Nunya
19 days ago
Reply to  Mr. Canoehead

Very good video on the subject

lastwraith
lastwraith
20 days ago

Isn’t it bad “rap”, as in rap sheet?
Never actually seen it written out though…

Bizness Comma Nunya
Bizness Comma Nunya
19 days ago
Reply to  lastwraith

I meant rep as in reputation, but also works with rap like rap sheet

lastwraith
lastwraith
19 days ago

Oh, I’m aware.
Although apparently due to common misuse, either is potentially okay now anyway.
https://www.merriam-webster.com/grammar/usage-bad-rap-vs-bad-rep-vs-bad-wrap#:~:text=Bad%20rap%20is%20the%20original,referring%20to%20wraps%20and%20tortillas.

And Lewin actually just used this phrase in his recent airbag article.
“I think for a lot of people, the idea of a malfunctioning or non-operable airbag is scarier than a car that had none at all. Back in the day, airbags had a bad rap for taking more lives than they saved.”

Last edited 19 days ago by lastwraith
UnseenCat
UnseenCat
22 days ago

I irrationally want the truck because my inner child won’t stop pestering me.

Geoff Buchholz
Geoff Buchholz
22 days ago

We love a Big Chungus Squarebody, but it’s entirely too much truck for me and probably four other people on my block combined. And I’m with Prof. Barth – I LIKE the wheels and the faded black paint. Volvo it is!

WR250R
WR250R
22 days ago

WANT THE TRUCK

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