Hooniverse Vocational Truck Weekend – The Demise of the GMC Line of Medium Duty Trucks

Welcome to the Sunday Edition of the Hooniverse Vocational Truck Weekend. General Motors, along with Ford and Chrysler, have been associated with the Medium Duty Truck Market for quite some period of time. All of them have exited this market in various stages to concentrate on their core business, mainly the car and light truck market. Chrysler was the first to dump their Dodge Medium and Heavy-Duty truck line in 1975, and Ford sold off most of their Heavy and Medium Duty lines to Daimler in 1997, with Daimler reviving the Sterling Brand for this line of trucks. You can still purchase a Ford F-650 and F-750, but these are built by Navistar at their Mexican assembly plant.

GM was the last to vacate this market in July of 2009, due in part to the upcoming bankruptcy of the parent company. GM was looking for a potential buyer since 2007, and both Navistar, and Isuzu failed to follow through on the purchase. So, are these bad trucks? Not in the least, but as with any orphan brand, there are pitfalls.

The Chevrolet Kodiak, and the GMC Topkick were fairly popular medium duty trucks that were always under-engined. This was a ploy by both Ford and GM to undercut the purchase price from the other truck brands like International and Freightliner. The 1990 Topkick and Kodiak used the Chevy and GMC conventional pickup cab mounted on a rugged truck frame. They used all the instrumentation from those trucks long after the light duty trucks ditched it. Ergonomics were rather haphazzard during this time period. If you wanted a Heavy Duty Allison Automatic, the Keypad to shift the truck was placed to the left of the steering wheel, and there were many other examples.

The Kodiak and Topkick received an all new cab in 2003, derived from the G-Series Van. This was a wider cab, but the proportions were stubbier looking. It was also cheaper to build. They were available as a standard or crew cab, which proved popular to the Horse and Car racing set. The C4500 and C5500 were unique when compared to the Ford F-450 and F-550 models. These trucks were higher, stubbier, and used solid front axles on both the 2WD and 4WD models. The C6500 and C7500 models proved to be popular with U-Haul, as they were easy to drive, and were quite easy to maintain. There was even an Isuzu badged version called the H-Series.

The relationship between GM and Isuzu also produced a line of GMC and Chevrolet low-cab forward variants of Isuzu’s popular N-Series and F-Series models. The GM versions were simply rebadged as W-Series trucks, and GM Built the Isuzu F-Series trucks for Isuzu at their Janesville, Wisconsin plant. So let’s take a look at the GMC trucks I’ve Purchased.

This is a 2007 pre-emission GMC C7500 with a 26ft Stakebed body and a rear liftgate. Under the hood is a Caterpillar C-7 Diesel, rated at 207HP, backed by a 6-Speed Manual. This truck is rated at 25,900# GVW, so anyone could drive it. Air Brakes, Power Windows and Locks, GM’s Tilt Wheel (With a smaller steering wheel than any other medium duty truck I have), A/C, and an AM FM CD. It also has a 3-man interior in cloth, and not much else. This truck only has 75,000 miles under its belt, so there is plenty of life left. See the listing here.

How about a 2007 GMC W4500? This is a 14,500# GVW Class 4 truck with an Isuzu 5.2L 4-Cylinder Diesel packing 190HP, backed by an Aisin 4-Speed Automatic. The box measures 14ft in length, and there is a rear liftgate. The truck has only 89,000 miles on the odometer, and should be useful to anyone who needs a light duty delivery truck that can last a lot longer than a regular delivery van. See the Listing here, and another one here.

Isuzu still sells the N-Series trucks, with their Diesel engine or an option of a GM 6.2L V-8 Gas engine. They just won’t be badged as a Chevy or GMC.

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