From the original box designs that started in the early 1900s to the modern and robust look of today’s Chevy pickups, the history of the Chevy Silverado has evolved throughout the past century. Not only has the vehicle transformed in terms of image but also power, durability and safety.
But how has the Chevy pickup evolved over the years to make it to one of the best-selling trucks in America? Let’s talk about the Chevy Truck History and how it’s shaped the current models we rely on for daily commutes, job completion and hauling challenging loads.
Chevy Silverado Facts — A Century in the Making
Chevy trucks celebrate 100 years in 2018. Backed by a century of engine updates, capacity transformations and appearance revelations, Chevrolet produced more than 85 million trucks since the first one sold in 1918.
Chevrolet is an American automobile manufacturer under the General Motors Company. In the past 100-plus years since Louis Chevrolet and William C. Durant founded the company in 1911, Chevy has engineered more than 209 million vehicles.
General Motors sells vehicles in more than 125 countries including the United States, Canada, China and South Korea. In fact, Chevy now sells about 60 percent of its trucks and cars to countries outside the U.S.
While Chevrolet may have constructed trucks for company use in 1916, the first trucks people could buy were produced in Flint, Michigan in November 1918. The original Silverado brand name came into existence with the 6.2-liter truck in 1998.
Where Are Chevy Silverados Manufactured?
If you’re wondering where Chevy Silverados are made, understand that Chevy is a GM brand. General Motors manufacturers Chevy’s various lines of cars and trucks. Assembly occurs in the U.S. as well as Canada and Mexico in the following cities:
- Flint, Mich., U.S.
- Roanoke, Ind., U.S.
- Oshawa, Ontario, Canada
- Silao, Guanajuato, Mexico
Committed to the safety and quality of their products, General Motors holds their vehicles to the highest standards and rigorously tests every aspect that affects their customers. They never compromise on safety and even designed crash test dummies that set the global standard for frontal crashing. They are also one of the first manufacturers to have a rollover test facility.
The Timeline of the Chevy Silverado
Chevrolet began in 1911 when GM founder William C. Durant and racecar driver Louis Chevrolet co-founded the company. In 1918, the brand became a part of General Motors, and they sold the first Chevrolet trucks, the half-ton Model 490 and the one-ton Model T. These first trucks were sold with only the chassis and cowl, meaning buyers had to install a cab and bed themselves. The first factory-complete truck was produced in 1931 after Chevrolet had bought the Martin-Parry body company.
Over the years, Chevy has produced many different models of trucks and cars, but the Silverado is one of their most well-known vehicles. From 1960 to 1988, Chevy introduced the C/K trucks as well as the El Camino and S10. But when you take a closer look at each version of the Chevy truck through the years, you can understand where the Silverado is now and how Chevrolet has become one of the best auto manufacturers in the U.S. Each truck played an essential role in shaping the trucks we drive today.
The Beginning of Chevy Silverado History — The C/K Truck Line
In 1960, Chevrolet introduced the C/K truck that had different body styles. The “C” indicated two-wheel drive and the “K” indicated a four-wheel drive truck.
The most popular version was the C10, but within seven years the company released the second generation in 1967. Known as the Action Line truck or the Glamour Pickup, the second generation C/K pickup trucks had superior comfort and convenient features. With a clean-cut, simple body and shoulders that tapered toward the rear, the truck had an iconic design. It also displayed an integrated fender and hood along with a simple grille. The second generation also had eight different engine options including a V8 or a 6-cylinder.
After a few more years, Chevrolet continued to innovate new designs and technologies. The third generation was released in 1973. With a newly redesigned body branded as the Rounded Line or the box body, it was one of the first contemporary heavy-duty pickup trucks. Chevy’s C30 One-Ton Dually made in 1973 was not only the first dual rear wheel truck on the market, but it was also the first to incorporate a Crew Cab which could hold up to six people.
The third generation C/K pickup was innovative and set new standards for the industry. As a heavy-duty hauler, it had a square body with rounded exterior lines for improved aerodynamics. It was the first to use curved side glass and have an antenna installed into the windshield. The One-Ton Dually had 155 horsepower, 255 pound-feet of torque and a 5.7-liter V8 engine. The third gen of Chevy C/K trucks lasted more than a decade until the fourth generation was released in 1988.
But in the midst of transitioning from one generation to the next, Chevrolet released the first Silverado luxury trim edition in 1975. The fourth generation started in 1988, but the era of the C10 truck ended in 1987, and the C/K line 5.3-liter with the GMT400. The new collection of trucks lasted from 1988 until 1998 and was also the first to be on the GMT line.
Features of the fourth generation truck included four-wheel drive, 185 horsepower, 295 pound-feet of torque and a 5.7-liter V8 engine. The decade between 1988 and 1998 was also when Chevy presented the Insta-Trac system that gave you the ability to shift in and out of four-wheel drive at any speed. Equipped with independent front suspensions, the 1988 C1500 quickly become one the best-selling pickup trucks in America.
As the final generation of the original C/K line, the truck — known as the OBS, Old Body Style Chevy or the GMC truck — had three trim types available — Cheyenne, Silverado and Scottsdale. The Cheyenne was a base trim and was a cost-effective, full-size truck. The Scottsdale was a mid-line truck. The Silverado was top-of-the-line in the industry.
In 1999, Chevy retired the C/K line and replaced it with a new series based on the Silverado trim.
The Modern Chevrolet Silverado Truck
Year after year, Chevy continued to transform the industry, especially from 1999 to 2018. The brand unveiled the Silverado, Avalanche and Colorado designs, now producing several of the best-selling pickups in America.
From 1999 to the present day, the Silverado has transformed into one of the most successful trucks. In the beginning, it was a stand-alone model with the GMT800 platform. It offered a new line of V8 engines with a hydroformed frame and a convenient driver message center. Other characteristics included a 5.3-liter V8 engine, 270 horsepower and 320 pound-feet of torque. The Silverado comes in light-duty models — the 1500 or the 2500 — as well as three heavy-duty models — 1500HD, 2500HD and 3500 HD.
Different Models of the 1999-2018 Silverado Pickups
Throughout different redesigns, new features, better safety improvements and many other aspects, the Chevy truck evolved from the C/K to the GMT400 and now the Silverado.
Here’s a look at the changes to the Chevy Silverado over the past 20 years:
- 1999: In 1999, the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 had 320 pound-feet of torque, 270 horsepower and a 5.3-liter V8 engine. There were other light-duty models available that continued until 2007 and Chevy began using “Classic” as a way to differentiate between first and second generation trucks.
- 2001: Chevy engineered one of the top powerful engines for their heavy-duty Silverado models known as the Duramax 6.6-liter turbodiesel engine with 520 pound-feet of torque.
- 2003: Chevy introduced the Silverado SS model that had a Vortec High Output engine equipped with 380 pound-feet of torque and 345 horsepower. Known as the “VortecMAX,” the SS edition had all-wheel drive.
- 2007: Chevy officially ended the first generation models this year. Chevy began to release the second generation in 2006 with a restyled appearance, new suspension and frame and enhanced aerodynamics. Chevy constructed the Silverado 1500 using the MT900 platform. It had a 5.3-liter V8 engine, 338 pound-feet of torque, 315 horsepower and was more aerodynamic with tighter panel gaps. These Silverados have a simple, modern look and are still made today. In 2007, Chevy won the Motor Trend Truck of the Year award as well as the North American Truck of the Year award.
- 2008: Chevy came out with the hybrid Silverado but discontinued it in 2013.
- 2014: Second generation trucks ended in 2014, and the third generation hit manufacturing lines in 2013. This year also included new technologies in the truck’s interior such as Bluetooth, USB hookups and an input for phones.
- 2015: Chevy paired the 6.2-liter Ecotec3 with the eight-speed 8L90 transmission for quicker shifting, closely spaced gears and boosted acceleration. The third generation models also included heavy-duty versions that were released in 2014 but are 2015 models.
- 2016: Another redesign was available with a new grille, front fascia and headlights. Chevrolet also added an HD radio to an 8-inch MyLink screen and other tech features.
- 2018: The third generation Duramax engine became a part of the Silverado HD series that can produce 910 pound-feet of torque and go from zero to 60 miles per hour in 7.2 seconds.
- 2019: In January 2018, Chevy said it would transition to the fourth generation Silverado 1500 as they begin production on an all-new fourth-gen model for 2019.
Chevrolet continues to engineer more impressive trucks each year. Every generation brings new features to the table whether it is an innovative engine like the Duramax or more aerodynamic features that support fuel-efficiency.
What Does the Future Hold for the Chevy Silverado?
As if Chevrolet can’t get any better, they are producing a Centennial edition this year worth about $54,000. It will come with 420 horsepower, a 6.2-liter V8 engine and 460 pound-feet of torque. It will contain several elements of the previous generations and versions, but will produce more efficient power and have a more modern design. The newest Silverado edition gained inspiration from the history of Chevy trucks.
As for the future, we know Chevrolet will continue to engineer innovative pickups to support businesses and consumers nationwide. They are planning to create a fresh 2019 Chevy Silverado. As technology and design continue to improve, so will Chevrolet trucks. The Chevrolet Silverado Centennial 2018 Edition is paving the way for the 2019 model.
Chevy is a worldwide automotive brand with annual sales reaching about $4.25 million. They take pride in designing and engineering fuel-efficient, reliable and safe Silverado trucks that deliver power, performance and value. Their long-lasting pickups offer innovative technologies, and most new models have features such an OnStar, Stolen Vehicle Slowdown and Automatic Crash Response.
Trust Raybuck for All Your Auto Body Repair Panel Needs
Whether you have a classic or late model Chevy truck, Raybuck has all the parts you need. We carry brands such as Prothane and Key Parts with a wide selection of parts including:
- Wheel arches
- Suspension products
- Rocker panels
- Cab corners
- Rust repair panels
- Truck bed panels
- And more
Raybuck provides top-quality auto body parts for your Chevy Silverado at competitive prices. Made of heavy gauge stamped steel, our products will meet or exceed the thickness of your pickup’s original parts. You will see an immediate difference not only when it comes to the appearance of your vehicle but also the durability. If you have an older truck from 1974 or earlier, we have restoration solutions. For other models, we can help you make the necessary repairs to increase the longevity of your truck.
Raybuck Auto Body Parts collects an inventory of high-quality solutions from cutting-edge and reputable manufacturers that are the exact replacement products you need. You now have an alternative to over-priced OEMs. We offer competitive pricing, and Raybuck experts are knowledgeable about our Silverado replacement panels. In business since 1985, we uphold incredible legitimacy and name recognition within the industry.
Choose Raybuck for Your Chevy Silverado Restorations and Repairs
Search through our Chevy and GMC repair panels to see which solutions fit your requirements. Buy any needed parts and panels to get your Silverado looking good as new with enhanced durability. You can also contact us to learn more about our products or reach out to a Raybuck representative by calling (800) 334-0230.