A Century of Innovation

Published by The Bee News

January 20, 2024

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There is more than a century of innovation and quality in every truck sold at Findlay Chevy GMC in Bullhead City, Arizona. There is also a long history of providing customers with a long lasting, durable truck built to meet every need.

Notable GM innovations incluude:

– The first hydraulic brakes on one ton and larger trucks in 1936, which made braking easier and safer.
– The first four-wheel drive system in 1957, which gave better traction and performance on rough terrain. Before this date four wheel drive systems were a modification offered by the dealer that used components manufactured by Marmom Herrington.
– In 1939, Detroit Diesel Series 71 engines were installed in buses produced by Yellow Coach. That company would be acquired by GM in 1943 and was the cornerstone for the GMC Truck and Coach Division.
– The first crew cab in 1973, which provided more space and comfort for passengers.
– The first anti-lock braking system in 1988, which prevented skidding and improved steering control.
– The first hybrid truck in 2004, which reduced emissions and increased mileage.
– GM manufactured an electric truck in 1912, and offered the first modern electric truck in 2021.

The origins of GMC trucks can be traced to 1901, the year that two brothers named Max and Morris Grabowski founded the Rapid Motor Vehicle Company in Pontiac, Michigan. They manufactured delivery and stake bed trucks for commercial use.

Their first prototype was a failure. But the brothers improved their design and created an innovative two-cylinder engine that produced 15 horsepower. By 1904, they had sold 75 trucks that were basically just an engine, a frame, a seat, and some wheels.

Reliance Motor Car Company was a primary competitor in the company’s formative years. William C. Durant, the founder of General Motors Company (GMC), impressed by both Rapid and Reliance, invested in both companies. In 1909, he acquired controlling interest and merged the two companies into one. It was named General Motors Truck Company.

The first GMC-branded truck was unveiled at the New York Auto Show in 1912. GMC trucks quickly became an industry leader known for their reliability and durability. Enhancing that reputation was an array of promotional and marketing media campaigns. As an example, in 1916 a GMC two ton truck was driven from New York to San Francisco in just five days.

GMC also pioneered styling in what were largely considered to be simply utilitarian vehicles. In 1927, GMC trucks got a makeover with chrome-plated trim, radiator-mounted headlights, and a more streamlined look. The new trucks also featured improved interiors and windows to impove visibility. GMC trucks were not just workhorses anymore, they were stylish and more comfortable.

In the 1930s, the line of GMC trucks were diversified. The company began offering an array of trucks with different load capacities, ranging from half-ton to six-ton trucks. They also introduced industry leading  technologies like hydraulic brakes, synchromesh transmissions, and independent front suspension. And during WWII, GMC produced over 600,000 vehicles for the military.

After the war, GMC trucks entered a new era of design and performance. In 1948, they launched the Advance Design series, which featured radios for the first time. In 1956, they introduced the Blue Chip series, which had its own engines (including a V8 from Pontiac) and cabins that were different from Chevrolet’s (GMC’s sister brand). Some of the highlights of this series were the Wideside pickup bed, which had straight sides instead of curved ones, and the tubeless tires, which were safer and more durable.

GMC trucks kept up with the times and changed with the market throughout the decades. They offered more options and features to cater to different segments and niches. They also experimented with new concepts and models like vans, SUVs, hybrids, electric vehicles, and even motorhomes. Some of the most iconic GMC trucks include the Suburban (the precursor to the modern SUV), the Jimmy (a compact SUV), the Sierra (a full-size pickup), the Canyon (a mid-size pickup), and the Denali (a luxury trim level).

Today, GMC trucks are still among the best in the industry. They are known for their quality, performance, versatility, and innovation. Whether you need a truck for work or play, you can find one that suits your needs and preferences at Findlay Chevy GMC.

Written by Jim Hinckley of Jim HInckley’s America


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