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Chevy celebrates 100 years of iconic truck design

One hundred years ago, Chevrolet introduced the 1918 One-Ton, setting the stage for a century of iconic trucks. To commemorate this milestone, the brand is looking back on 10 of the most iconic designs in Chevy truck history.

While Chevrolet truck design has changed radically over the past 100 years, one thing has always been true: Form has followed function as the trucks evolved to meet the customers' changing needs.

"Today, the Chevrolet truck design studio is focused on purposeful design that creates personality and customization options for a wide breadth of truck customers," says Rich Scheer, director of Exterior Design for Chevy Trucks. "Looking back on the past century of truck design, I realized that Chevrolet designers have been focused on the same goals since the very beginning."

Here are 10 of the most iconic Chevy trucks in the past 100 years, along with a design perspective for each, from Scheer.

1. 1918 One-Ton
MSRP: $1,325 (Chassis), $1,460 (Express)
Engine: 3.67L OHV 4-cylinder (224 cubic in.)
HP: 36

The first production truck from Chevrolet was inspired by vehicles used in plants to move parts and pieces from place to place. In the simplest terms, this is an example of form follows function. It was a rolling chassis featuring an open cab, an inline four-cylinder engine, and an open frame allowing customers to install the body that fit their unique needs.

One striking design element is the beautiful badge, which was clearly a designed element of this truck. The font, the proportions, and the dark blue, almost black color make a very sophisticated bowtie, even by today's standards.

2. 1929 International Series AC Light Delivery
MSRP: $400 (Chassis), $595 (Sedan delivery)
Engine: 3.18L OHV 6-cylinder (194 cubic in.)
HP: 46
Torque: 125 lb-ft

The 1929 was the first Chevrolet truck to feature a closed cab, which created the potential for what we know as interior design today. As with all designs, once the functional elements were defined, more comfort- and style-focused features started to become important for truck buyers.

It's amazing how fast they went from the purpose-built 1918 truck to a more styled, closed-cab truck. This is also the time when we started to introduce color. The color combinations on Chevrolet cars and trucks from this period are something I still love today.

3. 1938 Half-Ton
MSRP: $592
Engine: 3.5L I-6 (216.5 cubic in.)
HP: 78
Torque: 170 lb-ft

This was the first truck designed in the newly formed Art and Color department, which was later to be known as the Design Center, by Harley Earl and his team. (Earl became GM's first design chief.)

This year also saw the designs of cars and trucks deviate, as Design realized the need for trucks to have their own identity. As such, it is arguably the first example of Design's influence on trucks. The proportions really evolved from the earlier designs, creating a lower and longer truck with a styled grille and elegant, swept fenders.

4. 1947 3100 Series
MSRP: $1,087
Engine: 3.5L I-6 (216.5 cubic in.)
HP: 78
Torque: 170 lb-ft

This is one of the most iconic designs in automotive history. If you mention a vintage Chevy truck, I think almost everyone will picture this model in their mind. It was such a departure, advertisers coined the phrase "Advance Design," because it was bigger, stronger, and sleeker than ever before.

The five-bar horizontal grille is a departure from vertical grilles of the past and was the very beginning of what became a signature of Chevrolet truck design. You can see that the fenders are more integrated and the lamps are on the wide part of the vehicle instead of inboard, giving it a wider, stronger presence. The result is a very handsome design with great proportions.

5. 1955 3124 Series Cameo Carrier
MSRP: $1,981
Engine: 3.85L Inline Six (235 cubic in.)
HP: 123
Torque: 207 lb-ft

Known as the Task Force truck, the Cameo Carrier is Chevy's first Fleetside design. The bed surface is flush with the cab and fender, making for one complete, elegant shape from front to back. It was also Chevrolet's first bumper-to-bumper styled truck, as styling didn't stop at the back of the cab.

During this time, styling became a selling point for cars, inspiring more focus on design for trucks as well. This was definitely the heyday of American automotive styling and ornamentation.

6. 1967 C10 Fleetside
MSRP: $2,408
Engine: 4.79L Inline Six (292 cubic in.)
HP: 153
Torque: 255 lb-ft

This is the first truck that I really fell in love with. It's a beautiful, sleek design with a hint of wheel flare. I also really appreciate the line that flows away from the top of the bed line and the beautiful balance with the front of the vehicle. This is a feature that can easily go wrong, but the designers of the time did it so right. The body side has a strong shoulder that tapers toward the rear.

The Chevrolet bar on the front fascia connects the headlamp center with the bowtie -- a design element that is still consistent today. This time period is also when metallic paint was introduced, which highlighted the subtleties and body lines that weren't as obvious before.

7. 1973 C30 One-Ton Dually
MSRP: $4,388
Engine: 5.7L V8 (350 cubic in.)
HP: 155
Torque: 255 lb-ft

This third-generation C/K square-body truck was the first crew cab dually to market, and many consider it to be the first modern Heavy Duty Truck.

The design reflects a dramatic increase in capability for customers who used their trucks for both work and recreation. It is simple, tough, and purposeful, similar to the earliest Chevrolet trucks.

8. 1988 C/K1500
MSRP: $12,747
Engine: 5.7L V8
HP: 185
Torque: 295 lb-ft

The C/K1500 was the first truck design influenced by aerodynamics. This generation had great design reach, meaning it looked very advanced for its time. That is especially true for the new interior design, with a low instrument panel, pod-like setup, and even buttons that looked futuristic. This truck still looks modern and sophisticated 30 years later.

9. 1999 Silverado 1500 LT Z71
MSRP: $31,984
Engine: 5.3L V8
HP: 270
Torque: 320 lb-ft

This was the first generation that used the Silverado nameplate. It also introduced many of the modern design elements that customers associate with current Chevy truck design, especially the iconic Chevrolet front end.

10. 2007 Silverado 1500
MSRP: $34,990
Engine: 5.3L V8
HP: 315
Torque: 338 lb-ft

The 2007 Silverado is simple, modern, and powerful, featuring exaggerated wheel flares and a clean body side. It's another evolution for Chevrolet trucks in creating their own identity on the road, with distinctive front and rear ends. This truck brought back the "tough truck" look and feel, even though it was still heavily influenced by aerodynamics.

SIDEBAR: And what's new at Chevy? 2019 next-gen 1500 Silverado

The all-new 2019 LT Trailboss (new trim for 2019) adds off-road equipment to the LT, including a 2-in. suspension lift and the Z71 Off-Road Package.



Chevrolet introduced the next-generation Silverado at the 2018 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, exactly 100 years after the brand delivered its first trucks to customers in January 1918. The all-new Silverado sets the course for the next century of Chevy Trucks.

The 2019 Silverado is larger than before, including a wheelbase that is up to 3.9 in. (100 mm) longer and an overall length that is 1.6 in. (41 mm) longer, enabling both more cargo volume and more interior room for all cab lengths. Remarkably, it's also lighter, weighing 450 lb (204 kg) less than today's truck when comparing crew cab V8 models.

The weight savings comes from extensive use of mixed materials and advanced manufacturing processes throughout the next-gen truck. This allowed Chevrolet to use the right material for the application and optimize every component for mass, durability, safety, and functionality to meet customer needs.

For example, the body is 88 lb (40 kg) lighter than before due to mixed materials use. All exterior swing panels (doors, hood, and tailgate) are made of aluminum, while fixed panels (fenders, roof, and bed) are made of steel. The underlying safety cage uses seven different grades of steel, each tailored for the specific application.

The fully boxed steel frame is also 88 lb (40 kg) lighter than its predecessor, while offering 10 percent greater torsional rigidity. Eighty percent of the frame is made of high-strength steel varying from 2 mm to 5 mm in thickness, and every millimeter is optimized for performance using a variety of processes, including hydroforming, roll forming, conventional stamping, and tailor-rolled blanking. As a result, frame sections, gauges, grades, processes, and materials strategically vary to maximize strength, durability, and stiffness without adding unnecessary mass.

The all-new 2019 Chevrolet Silverado is 450 lb lighter due to extensive use of mixed materials.



Mixed materials also play a part in the all-new suspension. The front independent short/long arm suspension features new forged-aluminum upper control arms that are lighter and provide better wheel alignment than the stamped component they replace. The live-axle rear suspension is also redesigned, including new composite second-stage springs on LT models that save about 12 lb (5 kg) per side over the steel springs they replace.

The 2019 Silverado will be available with six engine/transmission combinations. This includes new 5.3L and 6.2L V-8s with industry-first Dynamic Fuel Management that actively shuts off any number of cylinders, in a variety of combinations, depending on immediate needs to optimize fuel economy. The result of this industry-first technology is instant power when called for -- and impressive efficiency.

The Silverado will also be available with an all-new Duramax 3.0L inline-six turbo-diesel. Both the 3.0L diesel and 6.2L engines are paired with a new Hydra-Matic 10-speed automatic transmission as well as start/stop technology to improve fuel economy for optimum performance and efficiency.

Source: Chevrolet Trucks

Published March 2018

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