To commemorate the 100th anniversary of its first truck — the 1918 One-Ton — Chevrolet is celebrating its 10 most popular truck designs in its history. While Chevrolet truck design has evolved over the last century, the company says form has always followed function to address customers’ changing needs.
“Today, the Chevrolet truck design studio is focused on purposeful design that creates personality and customization options for a wide breadth of truck customers,” says Rich Scheer, director of exterior design for Chevy Trucks. “Looking back on the past century of truck design, I realized that Chevrolet designers have been focused on the same goals since the very beginning.”
Chevrolet’s first production truck was inspired by vehicles used in plants to move parts and pieces across the facilities. The 1918 One-Ton featured a rolling chassis and an open cab, with an inline four-cylinder engine and an open frame, which allowed customers to install the body that best fit their needs.
In 1929, Chevrolet introduced its International Series LD, which was the brand’s first to feature a closed cab, creating the potential for today’s automotive interior design.
“As with all designs, once the functional elements were defined, more comfort- and style-focused features started to become important for truck buyers. It’s amazing how fast they went from the purpose-built 1918 truck to a more styled, closed-cab truck,” says Sheer. “This is also the time when we started to introduce color. The color combinations on Chevrolet cars and trucks from this period are something I still love today.”
The Chevrolet Half-Ton was introduced in 1938, designed by Harley Early and his team in the newly formed art and color department, which later became known as the design center. As designs continued to evolve during this era, Sheer says Chevrolet’s design team realized the need for cars and trucks to have their own identities, leading to lower and longer trucks with styled grilles and swept fenders.
Sheer calls the 1947 3100 Series “one of the most iconic designs in automotive history.
“If you mention a vintage Chevy truck, I think almost everyone will picture this model in their mind. It was such a departure, advertisers coined the phrase “Advance Design,” because it was bigger, stronger, and sleeker than ever before,” he says.
The vehicle’s five bar horizontal grille is a departure from vertical grilles of the past and was the beginning of what became Chevrolet’s signature truck design. Fenders are also more integrated and the lamps were installed on the wide part of the vehicle, giving it a wider, stronger presence.
Known as the Task Force Truck, the 3124 Series Cameo Carrier was introduced in 1955. Chevrolet’s first Fleetside design, the vehicle featured a bed surface flush with the cab and fender, giving the truck a complete shape from front to back. It was also Chevrolet’s first bumper-to-bumper styled truck, as styling didn’t stop at the back of the cab. During this time, Sheer says styling became a selling point for cars, inspiring more focus on design for trucks as well.
The C10 Fleetside followed in 1967 and metallic paint was also introduced to the lineup as well.
“This is the first truck that I really fell in love with. It’s a beautiful, sleek design with a hint of wheel flare. I also really appreciate the line that flows away from the top of the bed line and the beautiful balance with the front of the vehicle,” says Sheer. “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.”
Chevrolet introduced the C30 One-Ton Dually in 1973 and the third-generation C/K square-body truck was the first crew cab dually to market. Many consider it to be the first modern Heavy Duty truck, and the design reflects an increase in capability for customers who used their trucks for both work and recreation.
In 1988, the C/K 1500 was the first truck design influenced by aerodynamics, giving this generation an advanced look for its time, especially regarding interior design. The vehicle also features a low instrument panel, pod-like setup, and futuristic looking buttons.
Chevrolet introduced the Silverado nameplate in 1999 with the Silverado 1500 LT Z71. The model incorporates many modern design elements that many associate with modern truck design, including the Chevrolet front end.
Similarly, the 2007 Silverado 1500 featured exaggerated wheel flares an and a clean body side.
“t’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,” adds Sheer.
Founded in Detroit in 1911, Chevrolet currently sells 4 million cars annually in more than 115 countries.