Century mark: Watch the Chevy pickup truck evolve over the last 100 years

Chevy Trucks

Things can change a lot in 100 years, or they can remain largely the same. A pair of Converse Chuck Taylor All-Star shoes look nearly the same today as they did in 1917, and a Girl Scout thin mint cookie tastes just like it did a century ago. Put a 1918 Chevy One-Ton pickup next to a 2018 Silverado, though, and it’s difficult to see the lineage.

To see just how much Chevy trucks have changed during the last 100 trips around the sun, Rich Scheer, Chevy’s director of exterior design, takes us for a walk down memory lane:

1918 One-Ton

1918 Chevy One Ton

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 4-cylinder engine, and an open frame allowing customers to install the body that fit their unique needs.

1929 International Series LD

1929-Chevy_Art_Front View_v2Final

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. Color also started playing a starring role in consumer vehicles at this time.

1938 Half-Ton

Chevy_Series_1938_Truck_Art_front_v2

This was the first truck designed in the newly formed “Art and Color” department, later known as the Design Center, by Harley Earl — who would become GM’s first design chief — and his team. This year also saw the designs of cars and trucks deviate, as designers realized the need for trucks to have their own identity. The proportions evolved from the earlier designs, resulting in a lower and longer truck with a styled grille and elegant, swept fenders.

1947 3100 Series

Chevy Truck 1947 Front_Art_v1

This is one of the most iconic designs in automotive history. If you mention a vintage Chevy truck, most people will picture this model. This truck was bigger, stronger, and sleeker than anything before it. 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.

1955 3124 Series Cameo Carrier

1955 3124 Series Cameo Carrier

Known as the Task Force truck, the Cameo Carrier was 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 truck, as styling didn’t stop at the back of the cab.

1967 C10 Fleetside

1967 C10 Fleetside

This is a sleek design with a hint of wheel flare. Note the line that flows away from the top of the bed and the 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.

1973 C30 One-Ton Dually

1973 C30 One Ton Dually_Art_front_v2

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.

1988 C/K1500

1988 C:K1500

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 buttons that looked futuristic. This truck still looks modern and sophisticated nearly 30 years later.

1999 Silverado 1500 LT Z71

1999 Silverado 1500 LT Z71

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.

2007 Silverado 1500

2007 Silverado 1500 Crew Cab Short Box_front_Art_v1

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.

Representing today’s Chevy trucks are a pair of special-edition models. The 2018 Silverado and Colorado Centennial Editions feature design elements inspired by Chevy’s most notable pickups, including a unique blue paint color, heritage bowtie emblems, and 100-year anniversary badges. Both trucks will hit dealerships in November 2017.

In addition to releasing the special-edition duo, Chevy has announced a “Truck Legends” program, which recognizes customers who own a Chevy truck with more than 100,000 miles on the odometer, or who have purchased or leased one or more new Chevy Trucks in their lifetime. These folks will receive Truck Legends-branded merchandise and access to events through Chevrolet’s partnerships (concerts, MLB games, etc).

We have only one thing to say to all that: Keep on truckin’, Chevy.

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