A Quick Look At The History Of Chevrolet Trucks
Chevrolet has been in the automobile industry for decades. In fact, its trucks have been around for 100 years and have 85 million satisfied customers so far who have used their trucks for hauling cargo and pulling trailers, and whatnot. It was Chevy’s powerful or rather torquey engines that allowed the trucks to pull and pull and pull. And ever since Chevrolet launched its first truck, it realised the importance of torque.
Torque and power go hand-in-hand. But most of us are always interested in how much power a car makes. We usually ignore the torque figure. Perhaps, because everyone is so attached to the word ‘power’. Its meaning is self-explanatory. No matter what the context is, ‘power’ usually, and easily, manages to attract people. So, if power is so significant, then what is torque? Google it and you will be shown a plethora of websites displaying various explanations. In simple words, the power of an automobile means how fast that vehicle can go (top speed), and torque is the force that takes you there, it sees how quickly you attain that speed. If you are talking in the least technical terms, torque is the twisting force generated by an engine.
Torque is vital for trucks because they usually have to pull a lot of weight. That’s what trucks are designed for. Dan Nicholson, vice president, Global Propulsion Systems, says, “Chevrolet Trucks have pulled their weight for a century. Nobody does torque like Chevrolet and generations have counted on our trucks to get the job done confidently.”
It was in 1918 when Chevrolet came out with its One-Ton truck model. It had a 2.8-litre, 4-cylinder engine which had an estimated torque of 61 Nm. Its closest contemporary engine is the standard 4.6-litre, V6 engine in the Silverado WT, which is rated at 412 Nm of torque – a 312 percent increase over the 1918 engine. There’s the other contemporary Silverado 3500HD one-ton truck, which had the Duramax 6.6-litre turbo-diesel V-8. It’s got a whopping 1233 Nm of torque to take care of its pulling duties.
Nicholson adds by saying, “Technological advances such as direct injection and turbocharging help contemporary Chevy Truck engines deliver more torque per litre of displacement than ever. That means customers can do more and haul more than ever.”
As the brand celebrates 100 years of trucks, here’s an overview of the most significant milestones in its history.
1929: The First ‘Stovebolt’ Six
It was introduced in 1929 and was the company’s first to feature an overhead-valve inline-six, 3.2-litre engine. The new design of the engine helped the truck to perform extremely well in the lower revs. It means it had a strong low-end torque – approximately 162 Nm at only 800 rpm. Several generations of Chevrolet’s overhead-valve straight-six engine were developed from the
original design, serving in Chevy Trucks through the late-1980s.
1955: The First Small Block V-8
Chevrolet introduced its revolutionary overhead-valve V-8 engine, later to be dubbed as
the Small Block, in the 1955 “second series” truck lineup. This 4.3-litre engine produced 322 Nm of torque at only 2,000 rpm. It later evolved into one of the industry’s most enduring engine architectures. About a decade after the Small Block was introduced, Chevy’s Big Block engine family — also an overhead-valve design —debuted, elevating capability to an unprecedented level for gas-powered trucks. The Small Block is currently in its fifth generation in 2018 Chevy Trucks, while the original Small Block and Big Block families live on as performance crate engines.
1987: Technology Helps Build Torque and Increase Efficiency
Until the early 70s, increased displacement and higher compression were the easy ways to build more horsepower and torque. That changed with industry mandates which dramatically affected traditional power-building techniques. Chevrolet traded high-compression for high technology, developing electronic fuel injection that helped restore the torque of previous years with greater efficiency. Torque in the Small Block engine returned to 406 Nm in 1987 and took another 10 percent increase a few years later, with the 5.7-litre Vortec Small Block. Today, the available 6.2-litre Small Block in the 2018 Silverado 1500 is rated at 623 Nm of torque, thanks to technologies including variable valve timing and direct injection, giving it the highest torque rating of any light-duty pickup V-8 engine.
2001: The modern diesel era begins with Duramax
Introduced in 2001 for Chevy’s HD trucks, the Duramax 6.6-litre, turbo-diesel, with overhead valves and 705 Nm of torque, was an all-new design that established a new era of capability. Technological advances pushed its output higher and, today, the second-generation iteration available in the 2018 Silverado HD lineup offers a whopping 1233 Nm of torque – a stunning 75 percent leap in torque from the same 6.6-litre displacement as the original, which re-set the performance bar for HD trucks. Car and Driver recorded 0-96.5 kph in 6.2 seconds in a Duramax-powered Silverado, for the quickest time they’ve tested for an HD truck, while TFL Truck recorded a climb up the Eisenhower grade in Colorado in 10:16.99 minutes. That was about 12 seconds faster than the nearest one-ton competitor, with each pulling 10341.90 kg.