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A white 2021 Chevy Silverado is off-roading on dirt.

History of the Chevy Silverado

The history of the Chevy Silverado is strong, with it being one of America’s quintessential trucks. This truck has been a part of the American bloodline for a long time and has gained a well-deserved following of fans. With its history has come a reputation of reliability, so whether you have a new or used Chevy Silverado, you are guaranteed quality and reliability. As an iconic vehicle, it is worthwhile to look back at its origins and forward to its future.

Early Years

The Chevy truck’s origins were in the 1940s, where the 3100 Series became the ancestors of today’s Silverado’s. The first trucks were, by modern standards, not fast with 78 horsepower. Next, the 1950s Cameo Carrier improved upon the basic design with a luxury interior. Throughout the years, Chevrolet sought to modify the basic design with added comfort and several engine options with the Chevy C/K Series.

The C/K10 Series, introduced in the 1960s, offered four-wheel drive as a factory option and an independent front suspension. By 1967, the Chevy C/K series gave buyers more engine options, including 6-cylinders and big-block V8s. The horsepower was more powerful, with a 4.79L V6 engine offering 153 horsepower. A cleaner exterior design had a better-incorporated fender and hood, and a more straightforward grille design.

The First Silverado

A black 1999 used Chevy Silverado is driving past dry grass and shrubs.

Silverado was first used as a trim name in the 1970s, but the truck didn’t exist as a separate model until 1999. The truck was built on a platform similar to the Chevy Suburban SUV. Reflecting this kinship, the new Silverado added a bigger exterior body size and a more aerodynamic design in comparison to the former series trucks.

Available as a regular cab and extended cab, the Silverado offered three bed lengths of a short box, standard box, and long box. Designed in 1999 as a light-duty pickup truck for off-road adventure and hauling, the first generation Silverado had the classic body style with three cab styles of a two-door standard cab, an extended cab with four doors, and an extended cab with front-hinged doors.

The first model year had two cab options, a regular cab and a three-door extended cab. Initially, the Silverado had three engine options: a Vortec 4300 V6, Vortec 4800 V8, and a Vortec 5300 V8. In later years, the options extended to a 6.0-liter Vortec 6000 V8 and an 8.1-liter Vortec 8100 V8. Vortecs are known for being strong engine blocks that are useful for rugged trucks. The Silverado was an innovator in pickup truck technology when it became the first truck with standard four-wheel disc brakes.

The Silverado also was a pioneer in transmission technology with its automatic transmission featuring a Tow/Haul mode. The four-wheel drive system was new in the market because the drive worked on dry roads, unlike previous truck drive systems. This made the Silverado a stand-out option among the competition.

Second Generation Chevy Silverado

The second generation of the Silverado was introduced in 2007 with a contemporary design, interior and exterior, new frame, and new suspension. Built upon the “Shakebody” platform, the second-generation Silverado had a unique body style. However, the same cab configurations were available from the previous generation, and the truck was available in two-wheel drive or four-wheel drive.

The second generation featured either a Generation IV small-block V8 engine or a high performing 6.2-liter V8 engine with two trims available to choose from. Stronger than its predecessor, the second generation had a steel frame that improved the body stiffness by 92 percent. With improvements such as new rear springs and hydraulic body mounts, the ride was smoother, and the truck had better durability. Advances allowed new weight ratings that could accommodate its four-wheel drive handling of loads as heavy as a snowplow.

Third Generation

The third generation of the Chevy Silverado was the 2015 model introduced in 2014. This Silverado had three engine options in the EcoTec3 line: a 4.3-liter EcoTec3 V6, a 5.3-liter EcoTec3 V8, and a 6.2-liter EcoTec3 V8. The engines offered 285 horsepower, 355 horsepower, and 420 horsepower, respectively. The Silverado with the 6.2-liter EcoTec3 engine was equipped with an eight-speed transmission. The new transmission allowed for faster shifting and acceleration without sacrificing improved fuel efficiency.

In addition to the higher levels of horsepower, structural changes increased the truck strength. A high-strength steel frame with hydroforming technology and a high-strength steel frame truck bed created a tougher truck. Specifically, the steel used in the bed was roll-formed, not stamped, to lessen the truck weight. This method improved track performance and fuel efficiency. The aluminum on the hood, engine block, and control arms also gave the truck a lighter weight.

The third generation was also innovative in its use of mobile technology. Features such as the MyLink infotainment system with touch screen, Bluetooth technology for hands-free phone calls and streaming music, a premium Bose audio system, OnStar navigation, and a roadside assistance program were added to the Silverado trim. Other technologies, such as USB and auxiliary ports for charging personal devices and playing music, were added to the third-generation Silverado.

With the 2015 Silverado, the model had its first luxury model, the High Country special edition with amenities such as leather upholstery and luxurious badging. This gave drivers the option to step up their game with luxury and looks.

A red 2015 used Chevy Silverado is parked in a field in front of a small barn.

2020 and Beyond

The current Silverado has now entered into its fourth generation. Chevy redesigned the Silverado in 2019 to give it another weight reduction. High-strength steel has contributed significantly to the vehicle’s weight reduction of 450 pounds. However, the Silverado grew in size due to an increased interior and cargo space.

The Silverado in 2020 has five engine options, including a 4.3-liter V6 with 285 horsepower, a 5.3-liter V8 with 355 horsepower, and a 6.2-liter V8 with 420 horsepower. A 2.7-liter turbocharged four-cylinder creates 310 horsepower, while a 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder turbo diesel produces 277 horsepower.

The Silverado can be customized for different tastes with several package options and trims available. The 2020 Silverado comes in several trims, including the Work Truck, Custom, Custom Trail Boss, LT, RST, LT Trail Boss, LTZ, and High Country. These different trims come with a variety of choices.

For example, the exterior and interior trims have unique color packages. The exteriors feature colors such as Black, Cajun Red Tintcoat, Havana Brown Metallic, Northsky Blue Metallic, Iridescent Pearl Tricoat, Red Hot, and Satin Steel Metallic. The interior is available in colors such as Gideon/Very Dark Atmosphere, Jet Black, and Jet Black/Umber.

The Next Generation

The 2021 line now offers a collaboration between Chevy and Realtree called the Silverado Realtree edition for a rugged edition of the classic with exclusive camouflage graphics from Realtree. Other changes for the 2021 Silverado include losing some outdated features and having new features in the trims and engines to make up for it. Some highlights of the changes are losing exterior car trim colors such as Havana Brown Metallic and Cajun Red Tintcoat but gaining new colors such as Cherry Red Tintcoat, Oxford Brown Metallic, and Mosaic Black Metallic. People have a lot to look forward to with the 2021 Chevy Silverado and beyond.

From its humble beginnings to its household name status today, the Chevy Silverado has been the truck to have for generations. With new technology continually being added to make the trucks lighter, bigger, more fuel-efficient, and more technically advanced, the Silverado has stood the test of time. Many cannot wait to see what the future holds when it comes to the Chevy Silverado.

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