1902 RapidEnlarge Photo
• 1902: The Rapid Motor Vehicle Company delivers its first truck.
This week, we're reviewing the 2014 GMC Sierra, but not without a look back at what got us into the driver's seat.
GMC as a brand celebrated its centennial two years ago, but the roots of the company go back even further, to Max Grabowsky’s Rapid Motor Vehicle Co. It was the source of Detroit's first commercial truck, and within a few years it shortened its name to the iconic red letters on the grille of the Sierra today.
A hundred years later, the Sierra and its near-twin, the Chevy Silverado, are some of the best-selling trucks in America--separately, they're second only to the Ford F-150, combined they outpace Ford's perennial best-seller. The Sierra name alone is applied not just to light-duty 1500 pickups, but to 2500 and 3500 trucks, gas-powered and diesel-powered alike.
Here's a look at the big milestones in GMC pickup history, from the GM archives:
1913 GMC 2-Ton pickup truckEnlarge Photo
• 1912: The first truck wearing the letters "GMC" is built. The company offered some trucks with tall front ends, others with "French," or curved, fronts.
1927 GMC Cab Chassis 2-Ton Tanker with the Spirit of St. LouisEnlarge Photo
• 1927: GMC historians pick this year as a turning point, when its trucks began to evolve with features like chrome-plated radiator surrounds with headlights mounted on them.
1936 GMC Half-Ton Pickup TruckEnlarge Photo
• 1930s: Throughout this decade, GMC kept pace with car trends even in the midst of the Depression, with new grilles, paint colors and friendlier cabs.
1948 GMC FC101 Half Ton pickup truckEnlarge Photo
• 1940s: The first signs of truly modern trucks from GMC emerged after World War II, when its pickups gained integrated headlights and wider grilles.
1955 GMC 100 Series Deluxe pickup truckEnlarge Photo
• 1955: Spot the Bel Air-ish cues in this GMC truck? The headlights now have hoods, and the glass wraps around the A-pillar, just like it did on many GM passenger cars.
1960 GMC Model 1000 Half Ton Pickup TruckEnlarge Photo
• 1960: GMC goes with jet-age styling, a full-width hood, and a crease down the body that would linger for two decades.
1975 GMC 2500 Sierra Classic Crew CabEnlarge Photo
• 1970s: GMC truck cabins moved into the mainstream, giving up low-maintenance metal for plastic and padding--and four doors, for the first time.
1988 GMC C1500 Sierra SLE Extended CabEnlarge Photo
• 1987: The GMC full-size pickup adopts the Sierra name, and comes in C and K iterations, for light and heavy duty drivers.
1999 GMC Sierra 1500 SLTEnlarge Photo
• 1999: New for the first time in decades, the GMC Sierra has a tough hydroformed frame and extended-cab editions.
2007 GMC Sierra 1500 DenaliEnlarge Photo
• 2000s: Denalis and diesels arrived in this decade, as the GM trucks moved to a new GMT800 platform. The new Sierra arrived in 2007, with the first Denali setting up the brand-within-a-brand at GMC.
2014 GMC Sierra First Drive, Santa BarbaraEnlarge Photo
• 2013: The 2014 GMC Sierra goes on sale with a trio of new engines, revamped body styles, new infotainment features, and some of the highest tow ratings in the full-size segment.