GMC Brand History
GMC Brand History information from Sid Dillon. Our Fremont, NE dealer offers historical and new model information for our current and future GMC customers.
The GMC Brand’s History – From Rapid Motor Vehicle Co. to General Motor Truck Company to GMC
In 1902, the Grabowsky brothers, Max and Morris, founded the Rapid Motor Vehicle Company after building the Rapid, the first commercial truck operated in Detroit. The 1902 Rapid was made up of not much more than a seat, engine cover, and a frame. In 1909, General Motors founder, William C. Durant purchased RMVC and later Reliance Motor Car Company in 1911. The two companies would merge and changed the name to “General Motors Truck Company,” or as we know it today, GMC.
1912 – GMC – General Motors Corporation – Appears At the New York Auto Show
The GMC nameplate made its first appearance at the New York Auto Show in 1912, and it did not take long for the company to start earning attention. In 1916, William Warwick and his wife drove their 1.5-ton GMC truck from New York to Seattle and back, making GMC the first truck to cross the country in less than 32 days. However, once World War I began, the company shifted its attention to producing vehicles for military purposes. GMC provided over 8,500 vehicles to the United States Army during World War I. By 1918, nearly 90% of GMC truck production was dedicated to military vehicles – mostly ambulances, troop carriers, and light aviation support trucks.
1926 – GM – General Motors Expands Beyond The Truck / Automobile Business It Founded
In 1926, General Motors expanded into other forms of transportation. They purchased Yellow Coach, and began manufacturing buses under the GMC name. This would continue until the 1980s. The 1930s brought a shift in truck design, as they began to resemble popular cars, including new design features such as passenger cabs, sloped grilles, and more exterior color options. By 1937, GMC had redesigned 23 of their vehicle models to feature the popular two-color scheme and “streamlined” style. This was also the year that they introduced their first SUV, the GMC Suburban, which we now know as the GMC Yukon.
1940s – GM Supports the US Involvement in WWII – GM & Military Vehicle Production
Once the United States joined World War II, GMC once again shifted their focus back to military vehicles. In fact, they produced nearly 600,000 trucks for the U.S. Armed Forces. Once the war ended, GMC got right back to work for consumers, improving their truck design with a wider and lower grille and integrated headlights.
1950-60s GMC Advances in the Consumer Auto Market – Commercial Trucks – Personal-Use Pickups
In the 1950s, GMC continued to draw influence from the car market and increased the comfort, safety, and performance of their pickups. By 1960, they had transitioned from producing commercial use trucks to personal use, with the introduction of the GMC Sierra, which was the GMC brand’s first full-size personal-use pickup truck.
1970s GMC and Chevrolet Share Product Lines – Create Similarities – Yet Remain Distinct
While GMC and Chevrolet (both divisions of General Motors) shared many similarities over the years, the 1970s would bring a further bond between the two brands. In 1973, GM introduced the “rounded line” truck series which created product similarity between GMC and Chevrolet. As seen in sister vehicles like the GMC Sierra (Silverado), GMC Jimmy (Blazer), and GMC Yukon (Tahoe), they share many features but GMC vehicles have different trim levels, larger engines, and often higher prices.
1980 through the 90’s and into 2000’s GMC’s Success Soars – Production Numbers Climb
GMC experienced mass success in the 1980s as sales soared and production skyrocketed. In 1988, they introduced a new generation GMC that largely reflects the trucks we know today. In 1996, they dropped “trucks” from the brand name to reflect their expansion into the SUV and van market. The 2000s saw an even further SUV expansion, with the introduction of the GMC Acadia in 2007 and GMC Terrain in 2009. This decade is also commonly know as the “D” decade for GMC, named for the introduction of Duramax Diesel engine and the Denali luxury trim.
GMC’s History Spans More Than 100 Years from 1902 to 2016 – Now Into The Future
Over 100 years have passed since the inception of GMC, and the company has only managed to refine and perfect their commitment to quality and precision. Here’s to 100 more years of professional grade!