The History of GMC Truck Division

An In Depth Look At The History Of GMC Truck Division

Updated September 1, 2018

In 1902 in Pontiac Michigan two brothers by the name of Max and Morris Grabowsky would form the Rapid Motor Vehicle Company. The two brothers would build one-ton trucks used for farm and commercial applications.

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Many of the trucks would be outfitted in order to haul passengers. In 1909 General Motors headed by William C. Durant would purchase the Rapid Motor Vehicle Company in rebranded as GMC Truck. GMC trucks go on to sell mostly for commercial applications but would set records as the trucks were driven across country in as little as five days from New York to San Francisco. It wasn’t until the beginning of World War II when GMC would start producing vehicles for the Allied war effort. Some 600,000 vehicles such as the CCKW and DUKW were produced during the fighting years of World War II.


Over the years to come after World War II General Motors would keep the GMC lineup for noncommercial applications very similar to that of Chevrolet. GMC offer several commercial class vehicles that would differ from Chevrolet such as medium and heavy-duty trucks such as the 1959 GMC DLR. We would also see General Motors using the GMC brand for buses, motor homes, and sport utility vehicles. For the GMC noncommercial vehicles General Motors allowed Pontiac, Buick, and Cadillac dealerships to carry the GMC brand as Chevrolet vehicles were separated in order to only be exclusively sold through its own dealerships. This allowed non-Chevrolet dealerships to offer a full line up trucks as well as SUVs, crossovers and vans.

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Throughout the 60s 70s and 80s GMC would share almost identical vehicles with Chevrolet is most vehicles were simply just a different style grille. It wasn’t until recently 2007 when designers started to differentiate the two lines vehicles. We would see different sheet-metal being used for the GMC Sierra compared to the Chevrolet Silverado. Though the internal components and powertrain were identical the price as well as exterior looks were different. With the differences of the vehicles starting to grow apart we would see GMC vehicles starting to become more of their own.

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Today GMC offers six models to choose from in different trim levels and variations. The GMC truck division still offers noncommercial and commercial vehicles for the public. As for the noncommercial vehicles GMC has worked on introducing to crossover vehicles which are the GMC Arcadia and Terrain. And though they still share the same powertrain of the Chevrolet models, GMC designers got the green light to make the exterior and interior of the vehicles differ more so from the Chevrolet models. The same goes for the GMC Yukon which its next-generation will be arriving early in 2013.

As of today GMC still offers two light-duty trucks known as the GMC Canyon and Sierra. The Sierra is the GMC variant of the Chevy Silverado. For the GMC Sierra there is a 1520 and 2500 series models that are used for both noncommercial and commercial applications and will also be introducing its next-generation vehicle in 2013. There is also the GMC Savanna which is the company’s light-duty and work vehicle based on a van design. The GMC Savanna and come in a variety of different formats therefore helping to cater to businesses and individual needs.

As for GMC technology we see the same engineering and technological advancements that are featured in Chevrolet vehicles being placed in GMC models. These include such things as OnStar vehicle technology as well as touch screen interfaces that except digital media. GMC is also working on fuel efficiency standards for the entire lineup. Due to government regulations on fuel efficiency as well as customer demand, the company is working on direct injected engine designs as well as more efficient transmissions that offer more gears and less resistance.



Uriah Nazario
About Uriah Nazario

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