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 Such contacts — and access to people and historical documents — are crucial when undertaking such a project.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

Amsoil Engine Masters Rules Released; Ford Mod Motors Need Not Apply. (from the Crybaby Chevy LS engine boys.)

One significant change from the original announcement is that there will not be a LS-Mod Motor shootout. Instead, it’s just a LS shootout, and there is no place in this year’s rules package for a team to enter a Ford 4-cam Modular engine. Two years ago, Mod Motors swept the top three places in their first year of eligibility but were not allowed in last year’s competition.

http://www.enginelabs.com/news/amsoil-engine-masters-rules-released-ford-mod-motors-need-not-apply/

@Blueman,

They should let the Ford Guys use the Windsors Engines.


They would probably still kick their @$$

Lol...4.6L or 5.4L mod motors....unreal. they are junk!!!!! Get real...why do you think ford got rid of them. They suck. Face it!!

You 2 make me laugh

LA and LT motors will beat any turd mod motor u have. I can't believe I'm even responding to this bc we all know that your comments are laughable.

Sorry LS motor not LA....dang spell check

Amsoil Engine Masters Rules Released
BUT Wait there more.....from the Crybaby Chevy Boys. LOL

The most popular action at the 2015 competition was the Vintage class (SBC) where Jon Kaase won with a modified Y-Block. Under the 2016 rules, Kaase will NOT be allowed to return with the engine in the same class.

"Jon Kaase, “prior to last year’s Engine Masters Challenge, the most powerful naturally aspirated Ford Y-block engine produced around 600 hp.” This enduring feat, however, was substantially exceeded on January 17, 2016, when Kaase’s efforts raised the peak power record to 709 hp @ 6,300 RPM and 748-lb.ft. of torque at 5,400 RPM.

Lol...4.6L or 5.4L mod motors....unreal. they are junk!!!!!
Posted by: TNTGMC | Oct 13, 2017 5:06:16 PM

^ He got that right!, that's why you Find more GM engines in Fords then actual Ford engines, they got smart and threw their trash Ford mod motors in a garbage bin at some local place with a dumpers. HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Lol...4.6L or 5.4L mod motors....unreal. they are junk!!!!! Get real...why do you think ford got rid of them. They suck. Face it!!

You 2 make me laugh

LA and LT motors will beat any turd mod motor u have. I can't believe I'm even responding to this bc we all know that your comments are laughable.


Posted by: TNTGMC | Oct 13, 2017 5:06:16 PM


The 5.0L is the same as the 4.6L, just bored/stroked so they never got rid of anything.

You really do not know anything. So you blame spell check for your ignorance. Always blaming others......

PEACE!!

The 5.0L is the same as the 4.6L, just bored/stroked so they never got rid of anything. Posted by: Frank | Oct 13, 2017 5:53:59 PM

This clown! So Franky if its the same show us what 4.6L parts with work on a 2017 5.0L, Yeah that's right you can't! because its not the same engine a%$ clown!!!!!!!!!!!!

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

Posted by: Frank | Oct 13, 2017 4:32:05 PM

That sure is a lot of disappointed customers.

This clown! So Franky if its the same show us what 4.6L parts with work on a 2017 5.0L, Yeah that's right you can't! because its not the same engine a%$ clown!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: johnny doe | Oct 13, 2017 5:58:17 PM

Ford 4 cam engine family.

4.6, 5.0, 5.2, 5.4, 5.8 etc.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ford_Modular_engine

Frank is wrong again Ford sold just over 900,000 F-Series not F-150’s.

Frank is wrong again Ford sold just over 900,000 F-Series not F-150’s. Posted by: Sammy | Oct 13, 2017

@Sammy

don't waste your time trying to correct Frank's mistakes and falsehoods. There ain't enough time in the day!

Ford 4 cam engine family.

4.6, 5.0, 5.2, 5.4, 5.8 etc.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ford_Modular_engine
Posted by: Blueman | Oct 13, 2017

@Blueman

You're kidding, right? You list 5 different Ford V8s.

1 the 4.6 99% of the 4.6s were taxi-cabs and cop car motors. The DOHC is rare

2. the 5.0 legit reference

3. the 5.2 Rare as hens teeth

4. the 5.4 Common engine in SOHC form. A unicorn in DOHC form

5. the 5.8 Have you ever laid eyes on one?

Page 17:
"Ford has outsold Chevy Full size trucks for going on 41 years. F-150 has been the best selling vehicle in America since 1982"
Page 18: The End.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3RMsnVGuY4E

don't waste your time trying to correct Frank's mistakes and falsehoods. There ain't enough time in the day!

Posted by: papajim | Oct 13, 2017 7:29:57 PM

Ain't that the truth.......Frank is one of those guys who likes to tell a good yarn. This is not the guy you look to for facts.

I'm also writing a book. It's called 10 Years of New GM and Chevy Junk Trucks: 2009-2019. Topics will be the 2009 bankruptcy, ignition fiasco, the mysterious and unfixable Chevy Shake and a preview of the 2019 Silverado that according to my sources copies the F150. Stay tuned.

5. the 5.8 Have you ever laid eyes on one?

Posted by: papajim | Oct 13, 2017 7:49:02 PM

All 2013 & 2014 Shelby GT500 662hp had them. LOL

3. the 5.2 Rare as hens teeth

Posted by: papajim | Oct 13, 2017 7:49:02 PM

All 2015, 2016, 2017 & new 2018 Shelby GT350 have those engines. LOL

papajim got owned.

papajim got owned. Posted by: Frank | Oct 13, 2017

Not so fast Frank. I asked him if he's EVER seen one---as in did he EVER see one in person. Let him answer.

In the meantime, shut your filthy pie hole.

How rude.

papajim,
How does it feel to go bankrupt?

'ave a nice day chump.

Not so fast Frank. I asked him if he's EVER seen one---as in did he EVER see one in person. Let him answer.

Posted by: papajim | Oct 13, 2017 8:47:23 PM

Yes, I did, I saw 2 used ones at my local SVT Ford Dealer before I purchased my all black 2016 Shelby GT350.

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.

http://autoweek.com/article/wait-theres-more/little-warning-label-saved-ford-23-million-vehicle-recall

Yup Ford got on their knees and begged Reagan to save them. Instead of fixing a deadly defect associated with thousands of deaths and injuries, Saint Reagan stepped in and saved Ford from having to do a real recall which would have certainly sent them into bankruptcy.

Hahahaha nice try nothing touches GM’s Bankruptcies and defective ignition switch that will kill you.

Hahahaha nice try nothing touches GM’s Bankruptcies and defective ignition switch that will kill you.

@papajim,

There isn’t anything to correct. When I said ALMOST that’s the 900k that is referenced, but I think you’re none to smart. But it’s ok, I don’t need to resort to name calling due to your ignorance.

I’m done.

Hahaha got to go back to the 80s to find beef on Ford, just begging for it hahaha

Brick, That lie has been disproven on here before. Reagan had nothing to do with anything and didn't save Ford.

I don’t need to resort to name calling -- Posted by: Frank | Oct 13, 2017

@Frank

LOL You are the name caller in chief.

the Real Jeff S--I don't like any type of Government assistance whether it be loans or bailouts given to GM and Chrysler or Government support given to Ford to reconfigure assembly plants to make Focus and Fiesta (future Focus will be made in China and Fiesta will be discontinued in the US). I don't think it is fair to single out GM when Ford has gotten Government funds as well. My opinion is taxpayers should not have to support any industry including automotive. Getting back to the article why shouldn't GM celebrate the 100 year anniversary of Chevy trucks?

Frank I know alot about cars but obviously u don't! Stating I don't just shows how little know about your worthless 4.6L modular engine compared to a 5.0L coyote. They didn't produce a 5.0 until they got rid of 4.6L unless your talking about a crate motor which isn't offered in production vehicle.. WOW...know your facts old man.
Anyway you look at it Ford can't produce a strong performing V8..thats why they turbo charge there eco-bust gerbil engines that blow timing chains.
And don't say 5.8L either bc it isn't produced anymore!!
Have a great day.

Frank's just a mad little Ford girl, that GM is smoking Ford in truck sales and it happens to be on one of GM's brands 100th year. He'll crawl back under his rock before you know it, as Ford aint been having very much good news lately. He's just really mad cause the brand just now made 100 years and has outsold Ford for over 50 of them years!

Frank spends his time on the other side of the fence if you no what I mean.

You all make no sense, Ford produces the best balanced small block V8, you’re all just GM trvlls in clown suits.

Frank, shouldn't you be out with your boyfriend tonight?

Chevy 5.3 - 383 tq./ 355 hp.

FORD 5.0 - 395 tq./400 hp.

Silly GM squids.

Chevy 5.3 - 383 tq./ 355 hp.

FORD 5.0 - 395 tq./400 hp.

Silly GM squids.

Posted by: GM Blows Chunks | Oct 14, 2017 7:46:04 PM

Chevy 6.2 - 460 tq./ 420 hp,

FORD's top performing 1/2 ton V8, not so much.

Silly FORD squids.

Someone put's out a book for Chevy's 100th anniversary and all the Ford girl's start crying. Maybe if Ford built a good truck ,not a cookie cutter truck, someone would have celebrated Fords 100th.

papajim says all half tons ride bad. His comments are useless

Chevy 5.3 - 383 tq./ 355 hp.
FORD 5.0 - 395 tq./400 hp.
Silly GM squids.
Posted by: GM Blows Chunks | Oct 14, 2017 7:46:04 PM
Chevy 6.2 - 460 tq./ 420 hp,
FORD's top performing 1/2 ton V8, not so much.
Silly FORD squids.

Posted by: FORD Blows Engine Parts | Oct 14, 2017 11:16:00 PM

That 6.2 gets completely stomped by
3.5 with 510 tq. / 450 hp. Boo yeah!!
Silly,silly GM SQUIDS. Now go put on your makeup and buy yourself a new purse.

That 6.2 gets completely stomped by
3.5 with 510 tq. / 450 hp. Boo yeah!!
Silly,silly GM SQUIDS. Now go put on your makeup and buy yourself a new purse.

Posted by: GM Blows Chunks | Oct 15, 2017 10:01:46 AM

Can you supply a link displaying the 3.5 TT and 6.2 GM with 12,000 lbs towing capacity for each........I didn't think so. Enjoy you toy truck while you cruise to the mall. It's time you got yourself a new pair of pumps.

Hahahaha nice try nothing touches GM’s Bankruptcies and defective ignition switch that will kill you.


Posted by: Frank | Oct 13, 2017 11:14:38 PM

The deadly Ford transmission cover-up resulted in well over 10 times the number of deaths. Then you have Ford's own deadly ignition switch, Ford Bronco rollover cover-up, Explorer rollover cover-up, Ford Windstars with rust rotten rear axles that fall off (and even the recall fix resulted in a deadly defect), Crown Vic fireballs, cruise control fires, ignition module failures, F-150 brake/master cylinder failures, etc. The fact that in the past 30 years, Ford has been forced to issue a safety recall 70% of the time (more than any other manufacturer), and the fact that they have had SO MANY deadly defects, shows Ford is more than happy to make a profit selling loyal Ford customers rolling death traps. It's bad enough Ford's engines are such poorly designed, unreliable garbage. You're delusional if you think an ignition switch that's turned too easily if you hang 10 lbs of crap from it is worse than Ford's 100 legacy of death, fires, and coverups.

http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2016/11/best-worst-automaker-recall-rates/

@Brick

It's a fool's errand. You cannot help Frank.
He's the definition of helpless.

If helpless defines Ford fan boys what defines the management when GM stock went up almost a dollar and Ford went down 10 cent this past wk?

I have been happy with both of my trucks one a Chevy and the other made by GM. There have been some issues but overall they both have been very reliable one is 18 years old and the other 10 years old and both bought new. I do keep on top of the maintenance.

Jeff S is such a milquetoast.

Yep, 98 yrs at 2nd place behind Ford must hurt :-))

@papajim,

Those engines aren’t rare, you’re a fken idiot



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