It didn’t take long for people to realize that early cars could be converted transport freight and goods for commercial businesses. Enterprising dealers would order stripped chassis from the factory and sell them to select buyers so they could install wooden beds on them. In fact, small companies sprung up all around the country to manufacture these early trucks.
It didn’t take Detroit long to notice this trend and start manufacturing their own trucks. In 1916, Chevrolet was one of the first to offer a “pickup truck” right from the factory. It had a model T chassis and a wooden body and was a huge hit. By 1918, Chevrolet was offering several factory-designed pickup truck models. They could be ordered customized with wooden cabs, cargo boxes and panel bodies to suit their customer’s needs.
Because trucks required more sturdy components than ordinary passenger cars, Chevrolet started to build a heavy duty chassis. These included heavier steel frames, larger wheels, dual rear tires and more powerful engines. In the early 1940s, Chevrolet started producing a powerful inline six cylinder engine called “the Stovebolt Six” which went into the trucks and larger consumer vehicles.
Then along came World War II and the entire American automobile industry switched over to production of war goods. During this time, Chevrolet made radial aircraft engines, armored vehicles and various large artillery guns. After the war ended (1945), the factories slowly switched back to domestic automobile production. In 1947, Chevrolet introduced its Advance Design Truck Line to satisfy pent-up, post-war demand. Rather than settle for a basic utility look, the designers now made the styling attractive with rounded fenders and dome-like cabs. Something interesting happened soon thereafter. People started to buy trucks as their basic transportation. In fact, before WWII, the ratio of Chevrolet cars sold to trucks had been about 4 to 1. By 1950, the ratio of cars to trucks was closer to 2.5 to 1. The general population was beginning the love affair with pickup trucks.
The Federal Interstate Highway System was completed in 1967 and for the first time motorists had access to the entire nation. Trucks soon played a major role in transporting goods and freight country wide. To power this new generation of freight haulers, Chevrolet offered a variety of small- and big-block V-8 engines. 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”.
In 1999, Century 3 Chevrolet of West Mifflin, IL , a factory authorized Chevy dealer says the Chevrolet Silverado series of trucks was introduced. The new Silverado trucks resulted from the most intensive truck development program undertaken by GM. It was the first time that GM focused efforts closely on providing passenger car-level interior comfort and convenience features in their truck models. They sold like hot cakes.
Those who owned the early Chevy trucks would be amazed at what they would see today. The newest trucks ride just as well as fine cars and are loaded with features that previously would only be found in luxury sedans.