The Big Car Database


GMC Division of General Motors LLC
Industry Automotive
Predecessors Rapid Motor Vehicle Company
Reliance Motor Car Company
Founded July 22, 1911; 105 years ago (1911-07-22)
Founder William C. Durant
Headquarters Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
Area served
  • Worldwide
Products Automobiles
Commercial vehicles
  • Vehicle financing
  • Vehicle insurance
Parent General Motors

GMC (General Motors Truck Company), formally the GMC Division of General Motors LLC, is a division of the American automobile manufacturer General Motors (GM) that primarily focuses on trucks and utility vehicles.

GMC sells pickup and commercial trucks, buses, vans, military vehicles, and sport utility vehicles marketed worldwide by General Motors


GMC truck, from a 1919 advertisement

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 of Pontiac, Michigan, 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".

GMC maintained three manufacturing locations in Pontiac, Michigan, Oakland, California, and Saint Louis, Missouri.

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 1998, GMC's official branding on vehicles was shortened from "GMC Truck" to simply "GMC".

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

2008 GMC Sierra
2010 Chevrolet Silverado
1946 Chevrolet Pickup
1941 GMC Model 9314
1919 GMC Tanker
1920 Chevrolet tow truck

Starting in 1920, GMC and Chevrolet trucks are virtually identical except for the grilles and nameplates, though their differences have varied over the years. From 1955 through 1959 small (less than 2 ton) GMC trucks with gasoline V8s were equipped with Pontiac, Buick, and Oldsmobile V8s (the Canadian trucks used Chevrolet engines). GMC had its own line of inline 6 cylinder engines, known as "Jimmy's" from 1939-1959, and their own V6 from 1960-1974 (also a V8, V12). Chevrolet trucks were marketed towards private ownership, while GMC was focused towards commercial uses.

New Chevrolet vehicles are sold exclusively at Chevrolet dealerships, GMC light trucks have recently been made available to Buick and Cadillac dealerships with previous Pontiac and Oldsmobile dealerships also having similar arrangements, and separate franchises exist for medium and light-duty commercial models as well. This crossover allowed GM dealers that did not sell Chevrolets to offer full lineups of both cars and trucks by offering GMC's trucks alongside "non-truck" divisions. Between 1962 and 1972, most GMC vehicles were equipped with quad-headlights, while their Chevrolet clones were equipped with dual-headlights.

In 1971, GMC marketed their version of the Chevrolet El Camino, which was based on the Chevrolet Chevelle. Called Sprint, it was virtually identical to the El Camino, and a sport version, the SP, was equivalent to the El Camino SS. 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 companies' sister models (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.[citation needed]

In 1996, GM merged GMC with the Pontiac division in order to give Pontiac dealerships a line of trucks mainly to allow Pontiac dealers to compete with Chevrolet, which offered a full lineup of vehicles. While many GMC and Chevrolet trucks are mechanically identical, GMC is positioned as a premium offering to the mainstream Chevrolet brand, with luxury vehicles such as the Denali series. The profitability of the GMC brand helped its survival in 2009 during the General Motors Chapter 11 reorganization, and after the discontinuation of the Pontiac brand, many Buick franchises also sell GMC light-duty vehicles in the United States and Canada.

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.

GMC models

Light-duty trucks

Model Introduced Discontinued Notes
C and E series 1941 1947 Little difference with the Chevrolet Art Deco trucks
New Design series 1947 1955 Little difference with the Chevrolet Advance-Design trucks
Blue Chip series 1955 1959 Pontiac Powered, similar to the Chevrolet Task-Force trucks
C and K Series 1960 1998 half–, three-quarter– and one-ton trucks, with Sierra, Sierra Grande, High Sierra, and Sierra Classic trim lines
Sprint 1971 1977 Coupe utility - GMC version of the 1971 to 1977 Chevrolet El Camino
Caballero 1978 1987 Coupe utility - GMC version of the 1978 to 1987 Chevrolet El Camino
S-15 1982 1990 Became the Sonoma in 1991
Sonoma 1991 2004 Formerly the S-15 1982-1990
Syclone 1991 1991 High performance version of the Sonoma
Sierra 1996 current GMC version of Chevrolet Silverado medium- and heavy-duty pickup
Canyon 2004 current GMC version of Chevrolet Colorado midsize pickup

Medium-duty trucks

Model Introduced Discontinued Notes
Varies, first letter denotes production year:
A=1939-1940, C=1941-1945, E=1946, F=1947-1950, Z=1954, Y=1955, X=1956, T=1957, S=1958-1959, N=1960;
Second letter denotes cab style:
C=cab behind engine, F=cab over engine
1939 1959 Line sold to Navistar, now marketed under the WorkHorse brand.
L-Series 1960 c.1984 Steel Tilt Cab
TopKick 1980 1996  
C-Series 1960 2009  
Forward 1980s 2010  
W-Series late 1980s 2010 Rebranded Isuzu Elf
T-Series 1994 2010  
TopKick 2003 2009 Model used for Ironhide in the Transformers film series

Heavy-duty trucks

A 1972 GMC HM-7500 truck carrying a medium-sized excavator.
Model Introduced Discontinued Notes
DLR/F/“Crackerbox” 1959 1968 Aluminium Tilt Cab
B-Model 1960 1966  
7500 1963 1978  
9500 1966 1978  
Astro 95 1968 1988  
General 1977 1988  
Brigadier 1978 1988  


Model Introduced Discontinued Notes
P-series 1940s 1980 “Parlor” (highway) coaches
“Old Look” 1940 1969 transit
“New Look” 1959 1986 transit
RTS 1977 1987 transit
Classic 1982 1987 transit
B-series 1966 2003 school bus
S-series 1986 1989 school bus (forward control)


Model Introduced Discontinued Notes
Handi-Van 1964 1970  
Handi-Bus 1964 1970  
Rally 1970 1996 GMC version of the Chevrolet Sportvan
Vandura 1970 1996 GMC version of the Chevrolet Chevy Van
Safari 1985 2005 GMC version of the Chevrolet Astro
Savana 1996 current GMC version of the Chevrolet Express


Model Introduced Discontinued Notes
Suburban 1937 2000 Rebranded as Yukon XL
Jimmy 1969 2005 GMC version of the Chevrolet Blazer
S-15 Jimmy 1983 2005  
Tracker 1989 1991 Canada only
Typhoon 1992 1993 High performance version of the S-15 Jimmy
Yukon 1992 current GMC version of the Chevrolet Tahoe
Envoy 1998 2009 GMC version of the Chevrolet TrailBlazer
Yukon Hybrid 2009 2013 GMC version of Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid and Cadillac Escalade Hybrid
Yukon XL 2001 current Formerly the Suburban
Acadia 2007 current GMC version of the Chevrolet Traverse; became a mid-size crossover SUV commencing with the 2017 model year
Terrain 2010 current GMC version of the Chevrolet Equinox


Model Introduced Discontinued Notes
GMC motorhome 1973 1978  

Military vehicles

Model Introduced Discontinued Notes
CCKW/CCW 1941 1945  
AFKWX 1941 1945 Cab over engine
DUKW 1942 1945 Amphibious