The idea was simple: take a standard car chassis and install a hand-made wooden bed so that materials could transported around easily. This occurred at the beginning of the 20th century and the idea caught on fast. In fact, it didn’t take long before “trucks” were being built and sold by the millions in the US. Chevrolet was one of the earliest to jump into the marketplace – the year was 1916.
By 1918, Chevrolet was offering factory-designed 2 four-cylinder pickup truck models. Both were passenger car chassis units that were often customized by dealers by adding larger wooden cabs, cargo boxes or panel bodies to suit their purposes. The 1918 Chevrolet truck chassis was priced at just $595.
A little over a decade later, Chevrolet trucks had become woven into the fabric of American society and little customization was necessary. The factory offered a wide variety of truck models with options such as closed cabs, convertibles, metal beds and full metal panel bodies. In addition, for extra power Chevrolet started producing a more inline, overhead-valve six cylinder engine, “the Stovebolt Six”, which the service manager at Klick Lewis in Palmyra, PA told us became a mainstay in Chevrolet cars and trucks for decades to come.
The entire American automobile industry switched over to production of war assets in 1941 when it joined the Allied Forces in Europe. Domestic automobile production did not resume until late 1946. As a result, in 1947, Chevrolet introduced its Advance Design Truck Line to massive pent-up demand. The design engineers were charged with making the styling clean and attractive with rounded fenders, sloped front and dome-like cab. During the Advance Design trucks’ production run, there was a measurable shift among Chevrolet customers to truck models. Before WWII, the production ratio of the brand’s cars to trucks had been about 4 to 1. By 1950 – the year Chevrolet became the first brand to sell more than 2 million vehicles in a single year and the ratio of cars to trucks was closer to 2.5 to 1. Americans began to love their trucks.
By 1967, the Federal Interstate Highway System was giving Americans unprecedented access to the nation’s natural wonders and trucks played a major role. Customers who enjoyed travel appreciated the small- and big-block V-8 power choices that gave Chevy trucks the torque needed to pull trailers up grades as well as the horsepower to cruise comfortably with a camper at highway speeds. It was during this time that Chevrolet began a long running TV and Radio advertising program that included the legendary jiggle “See the USA in your Chevrolet”.
The Silverado appeared in 1999 with Chevrolet’s all-new, full-size pickup line. The new Silverado trucks resulted from the most intensive truck development program yet undertaken by GM. A sign of the times was that the Silverado was the first time that GM focused efforts closely on providing passenger car-level interior comfort and convenience features in their truck models. Consumers loved them.