The First GMC Trucks
Andrea Wright, Flickr Creative Commons

GMC first came into existence back in 1908, but it didn’t start producing trucks until the next year, 1909, when they become one of the first manufacturers to build commercial heavy trucks to compete with the current-day horse-drawn freight and railroads. Production numbers weren’t very high though, with total production of trucks only numbering 372 in 1912 for example. Of course the road infrastructure of the United States at that time was nothing like what we have these days, and internal-combustion powered vehicles were still proving themselves as motor cars were still viewed as a luxury item…the “Everyman’s” Model T hadn’t quite caused the nation to be car crazy just yet. As an example of the condition of the road system in the United States, it took 30 days for a GMC Truck to travel from Seattle to new York City in 1916, whereas a GMC Truck only took 5 days to cross the country from San Francisco to New York ten years later in 1926! Improvements in engines, fuel availability, as well as expansions in services and availability of parts play a part in the reduction of time taken to cross the country, true, but a more efficient road network is the main factor.

Speaking of 1916, the US Army was chasing the Mexican bandit Pancho Villa and for the first time in it’s history it was using trucks. GMC Trucks. 1915 Model 15 3/4 ton GMC Trucks to be more precise.  The Army went over 400 miles into Mexico in the hunt for Villa, and the trucks operated in incredibly rough conditions throughout the state of Chihuahua. The area of Chihuahua the GMC’s were operating in is covered in rolling dunes, mountains, desert plains, with little-to-no actual roads, just wagon tracks and horse paths. Many of those early vehicles succumbed to the terrain and were abandoned, but they taught the US Army, and Americans in general, the value of a solid 4 wheeled load-carrying vehicle thus helping create the legend of the American Truck