Evolution of Chevrolet Trucks
Chevrolet has been synonymous with trucks for a long time. Chevy is one of the big names when it comes to buyers who are looking for dependable, hard-working trucks. From the Colorado to the Silverado, today’s buyers enjoy strength, reliability and modern conveniences in the pickup.
The Start of Chevrolet
The Chevy brand began a little over a century ago and has since produced upwards of 100 million trucks. The company had its start in 1911 when GM founder William C. Durant partnered with race car driver Louis Chevrolet to build an empire. Louis left the company just two years later, and Chevrolet joined with General Motors in 1918 when the first truck was released.
This first truck wasn’t for the average farmer back in the early 1900s. Known as the Series C, the truck cost about $2500, which was a fortune in that era. However, all was not lost with this model because it led to other models, which were more affordable. One of the first was the 1915 Chevy Model 490, which was much more in line with the average budget at less than $500.
Also selling at this time was the 1918 Chevrolet Model T, which has a four-cylinder engine and 36 horsepower. It came with a payload of 2,000 pounds.
The Early Days
Chevrolet moved into a new era in 1929 with the introduction of the first overhead-valve six-cylinder engine and advertised it as a truck with “six for the price of four,” offering 46 horsepower. The engine was made of cast iron and was known as the Cast Iron Wonder. It also earned the nickname of Stovebolt because it resembled a woodstove and represented the same kind of durability.
It was during this era that Chevrolet changed the look of the pickup truck as well with a closed cab and color for the exterior. In 1931, the company went to factory-built trucks and offered multiple body styles. By 1937, Chevy trucks had gone to 78 horsepower and 170 lb.-ft of torque. These were also the first trucks to be designed by a special department known as the Art and Color Department.
The war halted any production of trucks, but afterwards Chevy introduced the Advance Design trucks. These pickups had a completely different look inside and out. One of the major changes was room for a third person inside the cab. There was also a radio, heater and defroster to add to the comforts of the truck. These new trucks also came with more power at 90 horsepower and 174 lb.-ft of torque.
The next major change came about a decade later when Chevrolet introduced the Task-Force pickups in 1955. These trucks had updates on the exterior and interior, but one of the most significant changes came with the addition of the first V8 engine.
While it might be difficult to call the 1960s modern, it was a significant departure in the automotive industry. Chevrolet began developing a new line of trucks with the C/K series. Different generations added new features, such as a Crew Cab to hold six people. They featured a box design and dual rear wheels with some of the models. One of the most popular was the Silverado trim, which would later become its own line.
The El Camino was more than just another model; it was a unique category. Not really a car, but not really a truck, this model landed somewhere in between.
The Chevy S10 was introduced in 1982 as a compact option, and it would inspire the Colorado. This model also offered various packages and features to appeal to a broad audience. Along with the traditional capability and strength of the pickup, the S10 also feature off-roading performance for more than just utility.
In 1988, a new naming structure was formed. Trucks were recognized as 1500, 2500 and 3500 to showcase the weight class where they belonged. The first to wear this title was the final C/K line with multiple trims available. The highest trim was the Silverado which would replace the entire line in 1999.
Today, the Silverado has become one of the best-selling trucks in America. It comes in all three classes with diesel and gasoline engines. Alongside it is the Colorado, which is a mid-size truck that offers performance in a compact package. They are the two models taking Chevrolet into the next decade of pickup trucks, both of which are backed by 100 years of history.