GM Truck Heritage Center

GM Truck Heritage Center

Story and photos by Howard J Elmer

Warren, Michigan, is a town best known as the home of the Ram truck assembly plant. Yet, next door is a nondescript industrial building that houses a vehicle collection like none other; and they are not Chryslers.  The General Motors Heritage Centre building is completely unassuming – till you step through the doors, that is. This facility, which is not open to the public, houses the history of all the GM brands from Day One. On the floor, there are at any time around 160 cars and trucks including concepts, one-offs and experimental vehicles. In total, the collection has over 700 historically significant vehicles housed in several buildings; however, they are only shown here. This floor show, bathed in the glow of neon brand lights, is rotated, often coinciding with specific events or anniversaries. For instance, front and centre right now is a chronological assortment of significant trucks, currently on display in honour of the 100th anniversary of the first production GM truck being built in August of 1917.

GM Heritage Trucks

1926 Chevrolet Superior Series X. Specs: 170 CID I-4 • 25 hp • base price $650

Based on a passenger car, the Series X had a beefed up frame to give it a one-ton capacity.

GM Heritage Trucks

1928 Chevrolet Depot Hack. Specs: 170 CID I-4 • 21 hp • base price $700

With a wooden body, it was used to run freight and luggage to and from hotels and the train station.  A precursor to the station wagons of the ’40s through the ’70s.

GM Heritage Trucks

1933 Chevrolet Eagle. Specs: 207 CID I-6 • 65 hp • base price $650

A panel truck, it was built for light-duty delivers with a half-ton capacity. The “Blue Flame” six came with a three-speed manual transmission.

1936 Chevrolet Canopy Express. Specs: 207 CID I-6 • 65 hp • base price $710

With a look of a “modern pickup,” the Express used stake holes to carry a soft-top cargo canopy.

1936 Chevrolet Suburban Carryall. Specs: 207 CID I-6 • 65 hp • base price $685

Designed to carry up to eight passengers, the Suburban was a mid-year redesign of a longer panel truck. This started the Suburban legacy that continues to this day.

1946 Chevrolet Suburban Carryall. Specs: 245 CID I-6 • 90hp • base price $930

The first post-war Suburban starts to take on modern proportions.

1956 Chevrolet 3100 Pickup. Specs: 265 CID V8 • 162 hp • base price $1,670

This half-ton pickup created the “stepside” body and is highly collectable today.

1959 Chevrolet El Camino. Specs: 348 CID V8 • 315 hp • base price $2,470

The first appearance of the car/truck that would go on to become a Chevy icon with five generations of trucks ending in 1987.

1960 Chevrolet Brasil Pickup

Built at GM’s truck plant in Brazil, this refurbished pickup was driven from Brazil to the Heritage Centre in Michigan in 2006 to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the plant’s founding in South America.

1962 Chevrolet Corvair Series 95. Specs: 144 CID Flat-6 • 80 hp • base price $2,130

Based on the Corvair, the Series 95 was rear-engined with a forward cab. The Rampside model had a side door that dropped to the ground. Only 4,102 Series 95 pickups were built that year.

1967 Chevrolet El Camino. Specs: 396 CID V8 • 325 hp • base price $2,604

Probably one of the most sought-after El Caminos, the ’67 features the big block, Rallye wheels, new taillights, grille, fenders and hood.

1972 Chevrolet Suburban. Specs: 350 CID V8 • 250 hp • base price $3,267

This Suburban was available with rear split doors or a tailgate. There was also a side freight door. Over 845,000 light trucks were built that year.

1975 Chevrolet C10. Specs: 250 CID I-6 • 145hp • base price $3,000

The C10 was the best selling truck in the industry to that point in time. It was available as a Stepside or Fleetside and with numerous trims and engines.

Categories: Features, Trucks Plus