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Author Topic: C3500HD History  (Read 46760 times)


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C3500HD History
« on: October 22, 2009, 08:35:24 PM »

In 1991, GM introduced (under the Chevrolet and GMC nameplates) a truck that bridged the gap between pickups and medium duty trucks, the C3500HD. The C3500HD was a 15,000 pound GVW (Gross Vehicle Weight) truck that was later replaced with the 4500 series. The C3500HD was only offered as a commercial chassis cab. The C3500HD came with regular cab as the only cab option until 1996, when the crew cab was also offered, it is not clear if the crew cab could only be ordered for fleets only, or if all consumers could order it as well. The extended cab was never offered on the C3500HD. All cabs came standard with upper marker/clearance lights. All but the most deluxe cab options were offered in the C3500HD, as well as all paint colors.

GM never offered the C3500HD in four wheel drive off of the assembly line, however several aftermarket conversion companies offered them in a 4x4 version with either a Dana 60 or Dana 70 front axle. At least one company, Monroe Truck, was offered as a ship-through 4WD upfit using the RPO code VCB.

Engine offerings for the C3500HD included the 5.7L (until 1995, when it was dropped for the 96 model year) the 7.4L, and the 6.5L turbo diesel (the 6.2L diesel was never offered for the C3500HD, no diesel was offered for 1991, 1992 brought the 6.5L turbo diesel. The L65 code 6.5L turbo diesel was the only diesel offered in this truck). Transmission offerings were the 4L80E 4spd OD automatic, and the NV4500 5spd OD manual, these were the only two transmissions ever offered for the C3500HD. The common drive axle used on the C3500HD was the Dana 80, an 85.8" wide full floating axle with an 11 inch ring gear. There have also been reports of Corporate 14 Bolt (a full floating axle with 10.5 inch ring gear) axles with upgraded axle tubes and hubs being installed. The front axle was a solid I-beam drop axle, similar to the axles of medium and heavy duty trucks. The GVWR of these trucks was 15,000 pounds. Both axles were suspended by leaf springs, and both axles had disc brakes. The wheelbases available were: 135.5", 159.5", and 183.5". The frames on these trucks were similar in design to the C3500 cab and chassis, but were heavily upgraded. The C3500HD, as well as the C3500 Cab and Chassis, featured rear frame rails spaced at 34", the industry standard for easy upfit of bodies

« Last Edit: February 25, 2010, 02:18:56 PM by ED-NY »


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Re: C3500HD History
« Reply #1 on: November 16, 2009, 10:36:34 PM »
Interesting read. What was the last year of the 3500HD?
My Trucks;
2003 Chevrolet Silverado K2500HD 4X4 6.6L w/Allison 1000
1997 GMC Suburban K1500 4X4 5.7L w/4L60-E
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Re: C3500HD History
« Reply #2 on: November 17, 2009, 08:34:03 AM »
Not really sure, still see trucks listed as 3500HD that don't look like these older units with the header panel under the front grill and straight axle? Something for me to look into.

« Last Edit: December 30, 2009, 10:13:14 PM by ED-NY »


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Re: C3500HD History
« Reply #3 on: December 08, 2009, 11:01:49 PM »
2002 was the last year on these impressive trucks in the US although I have heard they kept on going a couple more years in Mexico (has not been verified by me though). 1991 was the first year offered.

After 2002 the moniker "HD" stopped standing for Heavy Duty and more or less meaning High Dollar as HD became nothing more than a sales gimmick. The 8 lug 3/4 tons became known as 2500HD and no 3500HD sold in the US was rated for class 4 weight ratings (15,000 lbs) but instead the 4500/5500 trucks. If the truck doesn't have the 4" spacer below the grill it does not have the same frame as the original 3500HD's and therefore is not a true HD. The frame height and shape itself is what requires that 4" spacer between the bumper and grill.

2002 was the only year they could be purchased with the 8.1/Allison combo (I have driven this and verified RPO previously but I lost the codes and can not remember them. Otherwise it was the 454 or 6.5L TD for all years except 1991 & possibly 1992 when they were offered only with 350's. I have attached a hard to read brochure from 1991 that shows this and have seen one personally in a scrap yard years ago, although I did not verify the RPO code for the engine.

Tulsa is another company that did 4x4 conversions for utility companies as well as Quigley mostly for fire/ambulance applications.

« Last Edit: December 30, 2009, 10:13:42 PM by ED-NY »
94 K3500HD (factory Monroe 4wd upfit) short wheel base 9' bed 454 no more/NV4500HD/NP261HD/D70 frt/D80 rear 5.13's Cummins powered with 3.73's.
93 C3500HD long wheel base parts truck 14' bed 6.5(gone)/NV4500HD/D80 4.63
95 C3500HD medium wheel base 11' bed 6.5/4L80E/D80 4.63
2000 C3500HD Monroe extended cab 9' bed, 6.5/4l80E/D80HD 4.63 will become 4wd with D70 front and repowered some day...


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Re: C3500HD History
« Reply #4 on: December 08, 2009, 11:14:26 PM »

Thanks again..great info!

I'm always looking for dead and down 3500HD trucks, as you know, most people don't know much about these beasts and parts are hard as heck to locate, especially up here.

Always searching ebay and craigslist..and you are correct..the term HD is used incorrectly..I even see Dodge ads with 3500HD in the description...really hampers my searches.

Speaking of searches..I just learned of this search site for multiple craigslist ads:

« Last Edit: December 30, 2009, 10:14:13 PM by ED-NY »


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Re: C3500HD History
« Reply #5 on: January 22, 2010, 03:24:19 PM »

Engine offerings for the C3500HD included the 5.7L (until 1995, when it was dropped for the 96 model year) the 7.4L, and the 6.5L turbo diesel ...

I have to respectfully disagree with the part about a 5.7 offered in 1995...  I have a 1995 and the important pages of the 1995 commercial brochure are below...
I believe it's just more of that common 3500/3500HD confusion...  Anyway, some fun stuff below...

Sorry for the HUGE images, only way to read it all...  and note the Cutaway Van Chassis section at the bottom...  same 10/5 lug bits...  closest thing to a relative we have... ;D
(edit: just realized that the van came with a 5.7....  and it's HD...  ugh, my head hurts)

« Last Edit: January 22, 2010, 04:09:18 PM by KargoMaster »

Tow Vehicle: 1995 C3500HD CrewCab TBI-454 | 4L80e | 37spl Dana80 | 8' Flatbed | (SAS candidate)
Toy Vehicle: 1979 CJ-7 5.0L | NP435 | NP203 | Dana300 | Dana60/14BFF


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Re: C3500HD History
« Reply #6 on: January 22, 2010, 04:34:46 PM »
I used to believe they didn't start building them until 1993, but after seeing so many references to 1991 I did some searching and even found a few for sale.  They're unmistakably HD's, though the design of the filler is a little different which corresponds to other differences in pre-'94 lighter trucks.  The openings in the filler are just shaped different.

I personally have never seen one with an original 350 and would be surprised if that is accurate information. (regarding the trucks; not the cutaway vans which I know next to nothing about.)

06 Silverado ISS / 06 Silverado SS / 06 300C SRT8


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Re: C3500HD History
« Reply #7 on: May 19, 2010, 09:41:55 AM »
As requested by ED NY, I own and am currently rebuilding to a more standard spec a 1999 3500HD which is ex-UK MOD. So here's an odd 3500HD conversion for you all:

These trucks entered service in 1999 / 2000 to carry out 'Snatch' and riot control duties in Northern Ireland and are code named Tavern APV2. They didn't get used much as when they entered service was at the time troubles in NI started to improve, so now they're being sold off with as little as 500 miles on the clock, however they have had the armoured bodies removed.

The standard truck appears to be a 6.5TD/auto 1999 3500HD

The odd bits of added spec includes:

- Top secret armoured body, including fabricated 1/4" steel bulk head and 1/2" floors and I think a steel / kevlar sandwich body - the idea was to protect the crew against RPG attack.
- 120" WB
- 4x4 and right hand drive conversion. The gearbox (4L80) has a steel output housing to a Borgwarner 4401 transfer case, the front axle is a drivers drop Dana 70, the steering box appears to be standard in a fabricated box to hang it from the RH frame rail
- Twin alternators and a HUGE air con pump on the engine - the aircon unit is a massive RV type unit for the rear body
- Custom grill cover and fender flares
- Huge push bumper
- There's an engine bay fire suppression system, a windscreen solvent wash, loud hailer system, custom dash and other odd bits of kit I haven't yet identified!

About 100 to 120 of these truck entered service

This is actually my truck - I thought the reg plate matched, but then I saw the dent in the fender - the only photo I've ever seen of one complete and it's mine!

« Last Edit: May 19, 2010, 09:44:43 AM by plasticbadger »
2000 3500HD 6.5TD 4x4 ex-armoured car - the Worlds only RHD 4x4 3500HD?


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Re: C3500HD History
« Reply #8 on: April 25, 2017, 06:51:39 AM »
Found this HD brochure on eBay for around $3. Thought it'd be nice to add to the collection here
1999 chevy HD 4x4 135.5" 6.5 nv4500 bw4470 Dana 70 HP 10 lug front

Due to recent budget cuts the light at the end of the tunnel has been turned off


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Re: C3500HD History
« Reply #9 on: April 25, 2017, 07:08:31 AM »
Anyway to scan it as a pdf?



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