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GMC is a manufacturer of trucks, vans, military vehicles, and Sport utility vehicles marketed in North America and the Middle East by General Motors. In January 2007, GMC was GM’s second-largest-selling North American vehicle division after Chevrolet, ahead of Pontiac.
General Motors was founded by William C. Durant on September 16, 1908, as a holding company for Buick. In 1909, GM purchased the Rapid Motor Vehicle Company, forming the basis of the General Motors Truck Company, from which the “GMC Truck” brand name was derived. (Rapid was established on December 22, 1901, by Max Grabowsky. The company developed some of the earliest commercial trucks ever designed, and utilized one-cylinder engines.) The Reliance Motor Car Company (another independent manufacturer) was also purchased that same year by GM. Rapid and Reliance were merged in 1911, and in 1912 the marque “GMC Truck” first appeared on vehicles exhibited at the New York International Auto Show. Some 22,000 trucks were produced that year, though GMC’s contribution to that total was a mere 372 units. GMC had some currency within GM referring to the corporate parent in general. Later “GMC” would become distinct as a division brand within the corporation, branding trucks and coaches; in contrast, the abbreviation for the overall corporation eventually ended up as “GM”.
In 1916, a GMC Truck crossed the country from Seattle to New York City in thirty days, and in 1926, a 2-ton GMC truck was driven from New York to San Francisco in five days and 30 minutes. During the Second World War, GMC Truck produced 600,000 trucks for use by the United States Armed Forces.
In 1925, GM purchased a controlling interest in Yellow Coach, a bus manufacturer based in Chicago, Illinois which was founded by John D. Hertz. After purchasing the remaining portion in 1943, GM renamed it GM Truck and Coach Division. The Division manufactured interurban coaches until 1980. Transit bus production ended in May 1987. The Canadian plant (in London, Ontario) produced buses from 1962 until July 1987. GM withdrew from the bus and coach market because of increased competition in the late 1970s and 1980s. Rights to the RTS model were sold to Transportation Manufacturing Corporation, while Motor Coach Industries of Canada purchased the Classic design.
In 2002, GMC released a book entitled, GMC: The First 100 Years, a complete history of the company.
GMC currently manufactures SUVs, pickup trucks, vans, light-duty trucks, and medium duty trucks. In the past, GMC also produced fire trucks, ambulances, heavy-duty trucks, military vehicles, motorhomes, and transit buses.
Similarity to Chevrolet
GMC and Chevrolet trucks are virtually identical except for the grilles and nameplates, though their differences have varied over the years. While Chevrolet vehicles are sold exclusively at Chevrolet dealerships, GMC light trucks have been made available to Buick, Pontiac and Cadillac dealerships, in addition to being sold in separate franchises with medium duty, in addition to the light-duty models. This allowed GM dealers that did not sell Chevrolets to offer a full lineup of both cars and trucks by offering GMC’s trucks alongside a “non-truck” division, usually the mid-range Pontiac. Between 1962 and 1972, most GMC vehicles were equipped with quad-headlights, while their Chevrolet clones were equipped with dual-headlights. In 1973, with GM’s introduction of the new “rounded line” series trucks, GMC and Chevrolet trucks became even more similar, ending production of GMC’s quad-headlight models, and setting the standard for the Chevrolet/GMC line of trucks for over thirty years. During this period, the sister models of the two companies (Silverado/Sierra, Blazer/Jimmy, Tahoe/Yukon, etc.) shared everything except for trims and prices. GM has recently begun a divergence in design between the two lines with the 2007 model Silverados and Sierras, which have some differences in sheet metal and style.
Today, for the most part, GMC offers the same trucks available under the Chevrolet brand. A GMC Sprint / Caballero, for example, was arebadged Chevrolet El Camino, the Sierra is a rebadged Chevrolet Silverado, etc. Alongside sister brand Cadillac, all three share the Suburban/Tahoe SUV platform due to Cadillac’s upscale Escalade and Escalade ESV brands, with GMC’s Yukon Denali being closer to the Escalades.
In the United States GMC trucks are currently sold usually with Buick automobiles, typically at lower volumes than the equivalent Chevrolet trucks. GMC’s trucks, vans, and SUVs offer more options and standard features than Chevrolet, while Chevrolet is often offered as an entry-level car. In Canada, GMC is sold by Buick-GMC dealerships, usually at volumes equivalent or greater than the comparable Chevrolet trucks.
In 2007 GMC introduced the Acadia, a crossover SUV, which was the division’s first unibody vehicle whose predecessor, the GMT-360 based Envoy, was discontinued with the closure of GM’s Moraine, Ohio plant on December 23, 2008. In 2009 GMC introduced the Terrain, a mid-size crossover SUV based on GM’s Theta platform which slots below the Acadia as GMC’s smallest crossover, replacing the Pontiac Torrent and sharing no sheetmetal with the Chevrolet Equinox.
|C and K Series||1960||1998||half–, three-quarter– and one-ton trucks, with Sierra, Sierra Grande, High Sierra, and Sierra Classic trim lines|
|P-Chassis||1950s?||c.2000||Value Vans. Line sold to Navistar, now marketed under the Workmate brand.|
|L-Series||1960||c.1984||Steel Tilt Cab|
|TopKick||2003||2009||Model used for Ironhide in the Transformers film series|
|P-series||1940s||1980||“Parlor” (highway) coaches|
|S-series||1986||1989||school bus (forward control)|
|Suburban||1937||1999||Renamed Yukon XL|