If there has been a more versatile and functional platform in the auto industry, we've never seen it. Born at the Wentzville, Mo., production plant in 1996, the Chevrolet Express 1500 (and its twin, the GMC Savana) has been rolling off the line and into large and small businesses and households ever since. The total number produced is likely in mid-six digits, and we're likely to keep seeing these stalwart cargo and passenger haulers on the roads for decades to come.
According to our sources in the plant, the last Chevy Express 1500 rolled off the line midafternoon on July 7. GM has already announced that the Express will live on in the form of the 2500 and 3500 models, which are likely to continue to be popular with budget-conscious small-businesses and fleet buyers. There is a strong aftermarket industry ready to offer chassis modifications or interior storage for the heavier-duty platforms. However, the increased investment in new products from Ram Truck, Ford and even Nissan has made GM product planners nervous about the light-duty segment, so they've decided to leave the market for now. Of course, opening up more production capability for the coming all-new midsize pickups (the Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon) is not lost on corporate bean counters either. And if the little trucks begin to take off, that extra capacity will likely offer much stronger profits on each vehicle sold.
Here are production line workers Brent Robinson (left) and Chuck Taylor (right) holding up a celebratory banner for the vehicles they've built these many years.