Quick, which American automaker sold pickup trucks trucks First? If he said Ford, Dodge or Chevrolet, he would be wrong. The truth is that the Grabowsky Motor Company sold its first truck back in 1902. General Motors acquired the fleet truck company in 1909 and changed its name but kept the initials GMC. The Grabowskys certainly had competitors in their day. But of all the truck manufacturers today, GMC has been in business the longest.
The Grabowsky brothers were innovators
Max Grabowsky invented one of the first work trucks. It had a single cylinder engine under the driver’s seat, connected to the rear axle by a chain drive. He was also a right-hand drive. Its one-cylinder engine earned it the nickname “one-lunger”.
With the help of his brother Morris, Max founded the Grabowsky Brothers Motor Company in 1900, according to GM. Keyed designed and sought after customers. The brothers sold their first one-lunger to the American Garment Cleaning Company of Detroit in 1902.
The Grabowskys continued to refine the design of their trucks. But they continued to offer them as exposed chassis trucks for their customers to modify. They eventually changed their product name to Rapid truck and their business to Rapid Motor Company.
Chevrolet trucks came after GMC trucks
General Motors acquired a controlling interest in the business from the Grabowsky brothers in 1909. It immediately began offering the trucks through its network of dealers. Changed Rapid Motor Company to General Motors Truck Company in 1912.
General Motors founder William C. Durant left the company in 1911 and founded Chevrolet. He later merged the two companies in 1918. That same year, Chevrolet began offering its first pickup truck.
Workers at the Chevrolet automobile factory needed a way to move components around the factory. They left a car chassis exposed and built a wooden platform on top instead of a body. In 1918, the company decided to start offering this configuration to its customers, and the first Chevy pickup was born.
The first trucks from Ford and Dodge arrived soon after.
Ford’s first pickup truck was a variation of the Model T. Ford introduced the Model TT in 1917. It had a longer wheelbase, heavier axle, and heavier springs than the regular Model T. This gave it a rating of one ton.
The Dodge brothers began supplying components to other automakers in 1902. They began releasing their own touring car in 1914, trying to position it as a more premium and more expensive version of the Model T. Like Chevy, Dodge expanded into his first truck in 1918.
Find out which is the last ‘American’ truck built in the US below, or learn more about GMC trucks in the video below: