History of Chevrolet Trucks

November 4th, 2022 by

A white 2019 Chevy Colorado RST is shown parked near rusty supports after leaving a used Chevy truck dealer near you.

Since its initial introduction in 1911, Chevrolet has been among the most iconic brands available on the road for over a century. While many popular sedans and sports cars have been produced under the Chevrolet umbrella, including the Malibu and the Corvette, the vehicles Chevrolet is most well known for are trucks. The versatility of the line can range from a recreational vehicle for off-roading or tailgates to work trucks to haul cargo or materials from site to site.

Edwards Chevrolet Downtown is the best used Chevy truck dealer near you because our inventory goes back several generations and model years. Whether you want a Chevy truck with the latest in technology and engineering, or you like to keep things classic with an older model, we can help you out. The Chevy truck line is filled with history and innovation, so let’s take a look at how it has evolved through the years to become the modern marvel we see on the roads today.

The Chevrolet Classic Six: The Initial Vehicle

The Classic Six was the first model commercially produced by Chevrolet in the 1912 model year and was available until 1914. Over the course of its production, Chevrolet made several mechanical and aesthetic updates and improvements that carried into future models and designs. Its initial prototype, made in 1911, did not include a windshield or a top. By the time Chevrolet had moved on from the Classic Six, the vehicle had come standard with a starter, four doors, electric headlights, and a six-cylinder engine.

The Classic Six was able to reach speeds of up to 65 miles per hour, considerably faster than its more affordable competition, the Model T. Only two Classic Six vehicles remain on display in museums in Alberta, Canada, and Detroit, Michigan. The vehicle was followed by less expensive models that could more easily compete against the Model T with four-cylinder engines. While the iconic bowtie emblem made its debut in 1914, it never appeared on a Classic Six model.

The One-Ton: The First Truck

Chevrolet produced its first truck six years into its history and was inspired by machines used in factories to move materials from station to station. The One-Ton, as it was known, was made up of an open, rolling chassis with a four-cylinder engine, with functionality being its main focus. The cab and frame were both kept open in order to allow the first vehicle customizations: installing the vehicle body that best fit their needs. Whether the driver needed something that could accommodate a large family or something that could carry large furniture, the One-Ton was able to handle it. The One-Ton was the first truck that featured the bowtie emblem.

The 3100 Series: The Icon

The Chevy 3100 Series, first made available in 1947, is one of the most iconic vehicle designs in history and is still seen on screen today. This Chevrolet model was the top-selling truck in the United States until it was discontinued in 1955. It was one of the first vehicles to be released under the “Advance Design” style launched after World War II, known for its rounder, sleeker look than preceding trucks. The 3100 Series was a half-ton truck and underwent several refreshes over its production, including the movement of the gasoline tank from the passenger side of the bed to upright, the addition of vent windows, a change in door handles, and moving the transmission shifter from the floor to the steering column. The 3100 Series offered a full three-person seat as well as a radio located in the dashboard, with a 3.5L I-6 engine and 170 lb-ft torque. The 3100 series can still be seen on the road today as a desirable and well-respected vintage truck.

A blue 1955 Chevy 3100 is shown from the side.

The C/K 1500: The Inspiration

The closest to the modern truck lines, the C/K 1500 series was manufactured from 1960 until the 2002 model year. The truck was designed in the Extended Cab style, and its fourth generation bears the closest resemblance to current trucks on the market. Unlike the 3100 series, the C/K 1500 was more square and was initially designed as full-size pickups and chassis cabs for more effective towing and trailering. Its interior and exterior design were influential for generations to come as the first Chevrolet truck that was engineered to respond to the aerodynamics of the road, with a more modern appearance for the dashboard buttons to control the locks and windows. Similarly to current vehicles, the C/K came in half-ton, three-quarters, and one-ton models in later generations. The C/K series was discontinued in 2000 and was replaced by two new model lines, the GMT800 for the GM brand and the Chevrolet Silverado, which is still manufactured today.

Chevrolet Colorado: The Mid-Size Option

Not every driver is going to need a full-size pickup truck. That’s why Chevrolet launched the mid-size Colorado for the 2004 model year. It stayed on the market for eight years before being pulled fin 2012; however, the model returned in 2015 and is still going strong. The revival of the truck was its first major redesign since it was launched, coming with an optional, powerful 3.6-liter V6 engine.

Annual updates and refreshes have improved overall performance in the vehicle, with more responsive handling than other trucks its size, a standard locking tailgate, and an effective and intuitive 11.3-inch infotainment system in the main dashboard. The Colorado has a similar design to the current Silverado, with a shorter bed and lower towing capacity to match its smaller size. Current Colorados come with Chevy Safety Assist as part of the base package. With several different trim levels available, there’s a configuration available that will fit every driver’s requirements in a vehicle.

Chevrolet Silverado: The Full-Size Workhorse

The Silverado 1500 as we currently know it was introduced in the 1999 model year. Prior to the launch of this model, the Silverado moniker was used as a trim for the C/K 1500 line. The current Silverado shares many similarities with its first generation from an aesthetic standpoint, down to the iconic emblem on a dual-lined grille. Now in its fourth generation, the Silverado has undergone a number of mechanical and comfort upgrades to meet current technology with each model year, making it one of the highest-quality used trucks on the market. Recent updates have improved the engine to ensure a quiet ride and more effective handling, whether you are going off-roading, transporting heavy cargo, or commuting into the city.

The 1500 is considered the lightweight version of the truck, with two heavy-duty versions available in the Silverado 2500 HD and 3500 HD. While the 1500 model can be used for a number of diverse applications, the heavy-duty models are engineered to be used as work vehicles with higher towing capacity and payload than other trucks on the market.

A grey 2017 Chevy Silverado 3500HD High Country is shown from the side towing a trailer.

You Can Get a Modern Piece of History

If you have decided to upgrade your current vehicle and think that a truck will match all of your needs, visit Edwards Chevrolet Downtown today! Located on the outskirts of Birmingham, our dealership offers a full range of used Chevrolet trucks for sale, as well as an on-site service center for all of your maintenance needs. Our service center utilizes OEM parts from most model years in order to give your truck the best possible service and ensure peak functionality for as long as possible. Edwards Chevrolet Downtown also has a full finance team on staff to answer any questions you may have regarding auto loans or trade-ins when it comes time to purchase your next truck. To get started, visit our dealership today!