New Book Details 100 Years of Chevy Trucks

Chevy 100 Years LE

Editor's note: Motorbooks tapped former AutoWeek editor, ClassicCars.com editorial director and automotive historian/author Larry Edsall to write "Chevrolet Trucks: 100 Years of Building the Future," about Chevrolet's 2018 truck centennial. Here's his take on writing the book, now available at Amazon for $35.24.

By Larry Edsall

Just when I thought I might have written my last "car" book, Motorbooks called with a proposition: In 2018, Chevrolet will celebrate its centennial as a truckmaker and you are our choice to author a book chronicling that 100-year history.

I think I was selected because I'd recently written books on the development of a new Chevrolet Corvette and on the two most recent generations of the Camaro, so I had a good working relationship with folks in several departments at Chevy. Such contacts — and access to people and historical documents — are crucial when undertaking such a project.

However, there were two other factors that persuaded me to invest the time and effort into another book project:

  1. I'd just stumbled across a story about how people working in a Chevrolet assembly plant converted a few passenger cars into flatbed trucks for hauling stuff around the factory in 1916, two years before the company started selling such vehicles. I found that fascinating — folks we'd now call blue-collar workers were well ahead of management when it came to knowing how to meet customers' needs, even if those workers were the customers.
  2. I did some quick math. There are a gazillion Chevrolet pickup trucks on the road. If even a small percent of those Chevy truck owners bought the book, it could mean some nice royalty checks.

So, I accepted the proposal, started doing research and interviews, and made a couple of visits to the GM Heritage Center, where manager Greg Wallace and lead archivist Christo Datini provided not only their insights but access to the truck-related documents that the company has preserved.

I was surprised more such documentation wasn't available, though I shouldn't have been. Since becoming editorial director at ClassicCars.com and its daily news Journal, I've been disappointed in the lack of attention American automakers pay to their history, especially in comparison with European manufacturers. It's easy to get sales figures for the last 30 days, but try to find out what happened 30 years ago, and even Indiana Jones would be challenged to find extensive documentation about the early days of design and vehicle development.

On the other hand, I was pleasantly surprised that the GM Heritage Center's archives included an amazing book about the company's automotive involvement in World War II. Much has been made of Detroit being the arsenal of democracy during the war, but more than just aircraft and Jeeps contributed to the war effort.

A large-format book, "Report of War Production Activities" was produced by Chevrolet, apparently for internal use and with a warning about the transmission of its contents in relation to the Espionage Act of 1917. The book details a shift in production to the war effort with the manufacture of trucks — many with six wheels — bomber engines, guns and shells, various aluminum forging and magnesium castings. It also reports that the military was so impressed with the efficiency of Chevrolet's parts department that the U.S. Army Quartermaster Corps asked Chevy to reorganize the huge Camp Normoyle supply center in San Antonio.

GM also provided all the historic photographs and advertising illustrations used in "Chevrolet Trucks: 100 Years of Building the Future." Among those documents were tales of some early durability validation programs, including the Alaska Highway drive in the mid-1950s and another to Baja Mexico in the early 1960s. But there also was an earlier one, in the 1930s, a "Round the Nation" drive by a half-ton Chevy pickup with a 1,000-pound load in its bed.

These days, engineers drive hundreds of thousands of miles doing durability validation, but it's all done in secret as much as possible as part of the lead up to production, and in inclement conditions. For the most part, those remain untold but fascinating stories.

Also untold so far are details of the next-generation Chevrolet pickup truck. Try as I did — and I did — I could not penetrate the curtain or secrecy around the design and engineering of the truck that's working its way through the pipeline for model-year 2019.

Ah, well, perhaps that will be the subject for yet another book.

Manufacturer and Motorbooks images

1918 Chevrolet half ton

1918 Chevrolet half ton

1938 Chevrolet half ton

1938 Chevrolet half ton

1967 Chevrolet C10 Fleetside

1967 Chevrolet C10 Fleetside

Comments

2010 BANKRUPTCY. Ford WINS... AGAIN.

Ford WINS... AGAIN. Posted by: Clint | Oct 13, 2017

@clint

I've noticed that GM stock is up $10 bucks per share since this time last month. Ford? One dollar.

I look forward to seeing the Ford shareholders streaming for the exits in late December. 2017 has not been a good year for the Blue Oval. Some fresh ideas in the boardroom would help but the current leadership at Ford is really resistant to that sort of thing.

Who knows, maybe they'll design a wind-powered F150.

The 2009 General Motors Chapter 11 sale of the assets of automobile manufacturer General Motors and some of its subsidiaries was implemented through Chapter 11, Title 11, United States Code in the United States bankruptcy court for the Southern District of New York. The United States government-endorsed sale enabled the NGMCO Inc.[1] ("New GM") to purchase the continuing operational assets of the old GM.[2][3][4] Normal operations, including employee compensation, warranties, and other customer service were uninterrupted during the bankruptcy proceedings.[2] Operations outside of the United States were not included in the court filing.[2]

The company received $33 billion in debtor-in-possession financing to complete the process.[5] GM filed for Chapter 11 reorganization in the Manhattan New York federal bankruptcy court on June 1, 2009 at approximately 8:00 am EDT. June 1, 2009 was the deadline to supply an acceptable viability plan to the U.S. Treasury. The filing reported US$82.29 billion in assets and US$172.81 billion in debt.[6][7] [8][9][10]

After the Chapter 11 filing, effective Monday, June 8, 2009, GM was removed from the Dow Jones Industrial Average and replaced by Cisco Systems. From Tuesday June 2, old GM stock has traded Over the Counter (Pink Sheets/OTCBB), initially under the symbol GMGMQ[11] and currently under the symbol MTLQQ.

On July 10, 2009, a new entity completed the purchase of continuing operations, assets and trademarks of GM as a part of the 'pre-packaged' Chapter 11 reorganization.[12][13] As ranked by total assets, GM's bankruptcy marks one of the largest corporate Chapter 11 bankruptcies in U.S. history. The Chapter 11 filing was the fourth-largest in U.S. history, following Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., Washington Mutual and WorldCom Inc.[14] A new entity with the backing of the United States Treasury was formed to acquire profitable assets, under section 363 of the Bankruptcy Code, with the new company planning to issue an initial public offering (IPO) of stock in 2010.[15] The remaining pre-petition creditors claims are paid from the former corporation's assets.[12][15]

Background

Earlier restructuring efforts

Chapter 11 protection

Motors Liquidation Company Edit

Main article: Motors Liquidation Company
General Motors Corporation, upon sale of its major assets, trademarks and intellectual property on July 10, 2009, pursuant to the provisions of section 363 of the Bankruptcy Code, was renamed as Motors Liquidation Company.[86] It continued its bankruptcy court proceedings, exiting bankruptcy and splitting into four trusts.[86] Motors Liquidation Company announced on July 10, 2009 in relation to its equity and debt investors:[86]

Management continues to remind investors of its strong belief that there will be no value for the common stockholders in the bankruptcy liquidation process, even under the most optimistic of scenarios. Stockholders of a company in chapter 11 generally receive value only if all claims of the company's secured and unsecured creditors are fully satisfied. In this case, management strongly believes all such claims will not be fully satisfied, leading to its conclusion that the common stock will have no value.

None of the publicly owned stocks or bonds issued by the former General Motors Corporation (now renamed "Motors Liquidation Company"), including its common stock formerly traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol "GM", are or will become securities of General Motors Company (the "new GM"), which is an independent separate company. All of these securities relate to Motors Liquidation Company, and will be treated in accordance with the provisions of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code and the rulings of the Bankruptcy court.

Motors Liquidation Company's stock symbol was changed from GMGMQ to MTLQQ, effective July 15, 2009.

The classic GM trucks are the best looking classic trucks, in my opinion. I don't really care for look of the trucks after the GMT800.

Would be a nice book to own!

When Fecal Matter Cumpany hit their 100th anniversary on trucks it went unnoticed and everyone yawned. Nobody cares about the Fecal $1.50.

Anyone notice GM stock is failing? Its dropping now that they are cutting production on cars.

Jeff S.
Thank you for reminding us of how politics overruled the rule of law. How Bond holders and other first in line stakeholders were Screwed and left empty handed.Thats right outright theft! and the taxpayers bankrolled this aboration of how chapter 11 is supposed to operate. The Old GM was horribly managed right into the ground. The new and old GM are prima facie examples of crony capitalism and how investors got screwed as well as the taxpayers. Wait until the government figures it needs your 401k money more than you.
GM a real f'n dirt bag organization.

Couldn't find any real live pics because they've all rusted.

The comment about American manufacturers not paying attention to their history is evident in their products today.
For me personally, I started drifting away from GM devotion after the GMT 400 series because their replacements did not feel like a GM truck. The little nuances that made me prefer them from other trucks are just not there.
I guess this might be so with a long time Ford or Dodge driver as well. Maybe if American companies stayed true to their roots things might be different.
I miss old GM design and style.

I'll have to "pick-up" that book. You see what I did there?

Motors Liquidation Company's stock symbol was changed from GMGMQ to MTLQQ, effective July 15, 2009.

Posted by: Jeff S | Oct 13, 2017 7:45:32 AM

Here is just one example of Ford's many government sponsored bail outs. Read it, contemplate it and accept it.

I like the 60’s and 70’s Chevy trucks. Another good looking truck was the 55-56 Ford. That was a classy looking truck.

I've only ever owned Ford/Dodge trucks but gotta give Chevy credit for them really pushing their 100th anniversary and getting their fans involved. I don't recall ever seeing Ford or Ram do that. And as an outsider looking in it almost makes me want to own a Silverado.

Here is just one example of Ford's many government sponsored bail outs. Read it, contemplate it and accept it.Posted by: GMSRGREAT | Oct 13, 2017 11:16:20 AM

Your cheese has slid off the cracker.

I like the 60’s and 70’s Chevy trucks. Another good looking truck was the 55-56 Ford. That was a classy looking truck.
Posted by: Fredtheman | Oct 13, 2017

@Fredtheman

Take a gander at the '38 Chevy truck above. Then for fun Google a '38 Ford. It looks like a cartoon car compared to that beautiful Chevy.

Bankruptcy = GM sucks!

NEW BOOK DETAILS 50 YEARS OF CHEVY CAMARO.

Camaro 50th Anniversary after only 42 years of production. LOL

amaro 50th Anniversary after only 42 years of production. LOL
Posted by: Blueman | Oct 13, 2017

@Blueman

Camaro's first started showing up on the street in the autumn of 1966. Sounds like 50 years to me.

Try using a calculator next time. I'm not good at math either.

Camaro model years1967–2002= 35 yrs. 2010- present =7 years. = a Total of 42 years..
Yes Papa, you should use a calculator.
Now for real numbers Ford Mustang 52.5 real uninterrupted production years, not GM make believe.

NEW BOOK DETAILS 50 YEARS OF CHEVY CAMARO.

Camaro 50th Anniversary after only 42 years of production. LOL

Posted by: Blueman | Oct 13, 2017 12:38:34 PM

NEW BOOK DETAILS 50 YEARS OF FORD MUSTANG.

Oddly, no mention of the 74-78 Mustangs? The forgotten years. LOL!

GM didn't make it to 100. GM ended in 2009.

Oddly, no mention of the 74-78 Mustangs? The forgotten years. LOL!


Posted by: BOW TIE RULES | Oct 13, 2017 1:25:46 PM

That was Ford's response to the Engery crisis in 1973.

Learn your History....or ask papajim, he's old enough.

Those model year Camaro's were dismal and gutless. I should know, I drove one. :D

Oddly, no mention of the 74-78 Mustangs? The forgotten years. LOL!


Posted by: BOW TIE RULES | Oct 13, 2017 1:25:46 PM

That was Ford's response to the Engery crisis in 1973.

Learn your History....or ask papajim, he's old enough.

Those model year Camaro's were dismal and gutless. I should know, I drove one. :D

NEW BOOK DETAILS 50 YEARS OF CHEVY CAMARO.

Camaro 50th Anniversary after only 42 years of production. LOL

Posted by: Blueman | Oct 13, 2017 12:38:34 PM

I can tell that you're really hung up on this. The anniversary refers to the birth of the Camaro. Why is that so difficult for you to grasp. Hey, people don't stop celebrating their birthday after they get married.

Those model year Camaro's were dismal and gutless. I should know, I drove one. :D

Posted by: Frank | Oct 13, 2017 1:38:18 PM

You must not have had the Z28 model. I guarantee that a 350 powered z28 destroyed those 74-78 Mustangs.

NEW BOOK DETAILS 50 YEARS OF CHEVY CAMARO.

Camaro 50th Anniversary after only 42 years of production. LOL

Posted by: Blueman | Oct 13, 2017 12:38:34 PM

I guess if you Ford fans don't mind having a Pinto substituted for the Mustang from 74-78. Then I guess you can claim continuous production. HAHAHA.......LOL?

I guess if you Ford fans don't mind having a Pinto substituted for the Mustang from 74-78. Posted by: GMSRGREAT | Oct 13, 2017

@GMSRGREAT

From 1978 on it just gets worse!

Starting in 1979 the next gen Mustang was based on the Ford Fairmont economy sedan. Yikes!

Starting in the mid 1990s Ford's V6 switched to the dreadful Essex block 3.8 If you've always loved swapping out blown head gaskets, you'd love those Essex motors (and Colognes).

Hey, Lets all not start on mustangs vs camaro's

There have been more times a camaro has beaten a mustang. If you don't believe me. Go to 0-60 times and they have all the postings.
BTW....they both make very good pony cars! I've driven both..they handle very well. Mustang is more livable in coupe form. I would only buy a camaro if its convertible. Horrible to look out of....but that 6.2L destroys the 5.0L

As for the 100 years of GM truck. Great job.

As for the whole bankruptcy issue...YES its a disgrace, I'm a GM guy and can't stand it...thats big businesses for us middle class americans...stinks for us!! But don't you Ford fanboys go preaching that Ford didn't take any money because they did.

Lets all look back and wish that if the government was smart and gave every house-hold "I think it was around $450,000 roughly" to go buy a new automobile and purchase a house or help out on there existing house!! Instead of bailing out the automobile companies and banks.....imagine how well everything would have turned out! Its not rocket science....Its just Corporate America. They get rich, while we bust our @$$ to get by.....VERY SHAMEFUL

GM didn't make it to 100. GM ended in 2009.

Posted by: Jason | Oct 13, 2017 1:37:42 PM

This. The new Chevy is 8 years old. Party at Papajim's house in 2019 for the 10 year anniversary.

GM is also resurrecting the Chevy Corvair and preparing it for it's 60th Anniversary.

Great Milestone GM. Bravo!!!

The new Chevy is 8 years old. Party at Papajim's house in 2019 for the 10 year anniversary. Posted by: Ken | Oct 13, 2017

@Ken

Maybe you missed today's news.

The consumer confidence index hit a high not seen in 13 years. Stocks are at record highs, while Ford is down for the day. GM of course is UP. Jim Cramer on CNBC is trashing Ford for falling so far behind GM. Barclays analyst Brian Johnson upgraded GM and badmouthed Ford.

Ho hum

@TNTGM,

Really! The 6.2 edges out the 5L by .4 tenth. That is dismal performance from the LT1 that is bigger and a Camaro that is 250 lbs less in weight.

That's pathetic. Ford always has had the better balanced package. The 2001 SVT Cobra is a well balanced Car.

You said it yourself, you'd drive a Mustang for living purposes. To be honest, I always found the Mustang to be more daily driven and livable as opposed to any Camaro that has horrid weight distribution and handles like a pig when making a right turn.

:D

GM Squids , nothing but excuses and diversions, lol.

Oddly, no mention of the 74-78 Mustangs? The forgotten years. LOL!

Posted by: BOW TIE RULES | Oct 13, 2017 1:25:46 PM

Funny, all the Chevy boys are running Mustang II frontends with 9"Ford rearends on there street/strip cars. LOL

Funny, all the Chevy boys are running Mustang II frontends with 9"Ford rearends on there street/strip cars. LOL


Posted by: Blueman | Oct 13, 2017 3:09:47 PM

In some cases, they'll take the whole darn car with them.

@ Frank

Sorry but the new camaro is less in weight and destroys the mustang by more than .4 tenths and it increases more through quarter mile. The old 5th gen---I agree..it was a fat pig
The magnetic ride the camaro SS has that the GT mustang doesn't makes a huge difference. Im not talking about the GT350 either because the SS 1LE camaro beats that let alone the ZL1 beast!

Get your numbers squared first.

And yes comparing coupes...mustang has better visibility. But I'm a convertible guy and camaro edges there...the ride is GM if u get magnetic shocks on SS...otherwise it's a toss up.
As for 6.2L. There is no replacement for displacement!!!!

@TNTGMC,

Do you have a link or proof? I don't want to hear your in-laws bought now.

P.S. Convertibles are for GIRLS.

:D


Actually there is replacement for displacement. It's called:

FORCED INDUCTION

@TNTGMC,

This is not a beat down

GT350 vs ZL1 .4 tenth difference

http://www.motortrend.com/cars/ford/mustang/2017/2017-chevrolet-camaro-zl1-vs-2017-ford-mustang-shelby-gt350r-review/

GT350 vs SS 1 LE .1 tenth difference

https://www.torquenews.com/106/2017-ford-shelby-gt350-mustang-vs-2017-chevrolet-camaro-1le-ss-tale-tape

Not to mention, the Resale value of the GT350 will trounces the generic product.

In addition, the 5.2L is one sexy sounding engine, nothing like hearing the sound of a flat plane crank V8. Up next, cross plane crank V8, love Ford and their ideas.

GM, not so much. Meh.

In some cases, they'll take the whole darn car with them.


Posted by: Frank | Oct 13, 2017 3:13:07 PM

Sure, cheap light weight junk yard parts but with an LS engine for the win.

In addition, the 5.2L is one sexy sounding engine, nothing like hearing the sound of a flat plane crank V8. Up next, cross plane crank V8, love Ford and their ideas.

GM, not so much. Meh.

Posted by: Frank | Oct 13, 2017 3:58:01 PM

Trust me, you can't hear the flat crank engine behind my 6.2 with the exhaust butterflies open. If it's noise you like, the gt350 has that but sadly can't run with the ZL1.

Sure, cheap light weight junk yard parts but with an LS engine for the win.


Posted by: GMSRGREAT | Oct 13, 2017 4:03:07 PM

The irony here, with the pot calling kettle black.

Yep, you would find this LS engine on the cheap. Our local JY has a 5.3L for $300 with the wire harness.

Trust me, you can't hear the flat crank engine behind my 6.2 with the exhaust butterflies open. If it's noise you like, the gt350 has that but sadly can't run with the ZL1.


Posted by: GMSRGREAT | Oct 13, 2017 4:08:01 PM

OH look, she has a Camaro 6.2L now, damn TRVLLS are on a roll.

Yep, you would find this LS engine on the cheap. Our local JY has a 5.3L for $300 with the wire harness.

Posted by: Frank | Oct 13, 2017 4:08:03 PM

And they're winning at the track. Have you seen a recycled 5.4 at the track, not so much. Junk.

And they're winning at the track. Have you seen a recycled 5.4 at the track, not so much. Junk.

Posted by: GMSRGREAT | Oct 13, 2017 4:10:41 PM

If you had one lick of education in regards to racing, you would know each racer and builder has a budget.

In addition, the 5.4L shines in the Ford GT that can boast over 1000RWHP STOCK.

A Stock LS Engine will shatter in pieces trying to hit 600-700 HP.

:D

Not to mention, a shot a juice....and pooooffff the engine blows up.

Seen, laughed at it, and i'm over it.

Not to mention, a shot a juice....and pooooffff the engine blows up.

Seen, laughed at it, and i'm over it.

Posted by: Frank | Oct 13, 2017 4:12:57 PM

HaHa. The 5.4 blew up in the pick-up, that's why you don't see them at the track. The 5.4 in the GT is purpose built. Too bad Ford didn't give that kind of attention to their loyal F-150 customers.

Oh yea, that Generation of F150s almost sold 1 million trucks in 2005.

That is like all your GM trucks together including GMC Cars/SUV.

And they're winning at the track. Have you seen a recycled 5.4 at the track, not so much. Junk.

Posted by: GMSRGREAT | Oct 13, 2017 4:10:41 PM

If you had one lick of education in regards to racing, you would know each racer and builder has a budget.

In addition, the 5.4L shines in the Ford GT that can boast over 1000RWHP STOCK.

A Stock LS Engine will shatter in pieces trying to hit 600-700 HP.

:D


Posted by: Frank | Oct 13, 2017 4:12:29 PM
Not to mention, a shot a juice....and pooooffff the engine blows up.

Seen, laughed at it, and i'm over it.


Posted by: Frank | Oct 13, 2017 4:12:57 PM



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