5 Interesting Facts About the Chevrolet Silverado
Introduced in 1999, the Silverado replaced Chevrolet’s line of C/K trucks that had been in production for 40 years.
Filling the shows of this classic line of pickups was not going to be easy, but with a redesign for the 21st century, GM was prepared to take on Ford and Dodge with the help of its Chevy dealers in Albany NY.
With that, let’s delve into the history of the Silverado and learn more about what makes it one of the best pick-up truck models of all time.
Innovation Comes Standard on Silverado Trucks
The Silverado started off as an innovator in the pick-up truck market. With a new platform, the GMT800, General Motors used new a new form of hydro-forming to create a frame that was both stronger and lighter
The company first used this technology on the Corvette, but found the perfect opportunity to introduce it to trucks with the new Silverado.
The best part: they beat both Ford and Dodge to market with the technology, and its two rivals had to play catch-up in order to compete with GM’s platform upgrades.
Then vs. Now: Engine Output
The Vortec 4300 V6 engine featured on the base Silverado only put out 200 hp when it was first introduced in 1999 through 2000. Today, the 4.3-liter EcoTec3 V6 engine featured on the current generation of Silverado puts out 285hp.
And of course, the Silverado’s V8 options have seen similar jumps in power over the years. The Vortec 5300 V8 engine produced 270 hp in 1999, but jumped to 285 hp with the 2000 model year.
The 5.3-liter EcoTec3 V8 introduced in 2014 produced 355 hp. On a standard Silverado 1500 today, the maximum power you can get is 420 hp from the 6.2-liter EcoTec3.
But back in the early days of the Silverado, the most power you could get from a standard 1500 model was 285 hp. If you wanted more, you had to upgrade to the HD (heavy duty) line of work-ready trucks.
Not only has the power improved over the past 15 years, though efficiency has improved as well. Despite only being 1 mpg more in the city and on the highway (17/23 in 1999 vs. 18/24 in 2015), getting to that level of efficiency has taken a lot of innovation from GM’s engineers.
Rarest Silverado Ever: 2006 Silverado Intimidator SS
After Dale Earnhardt’s death in 2001, Chevrolet released a series of “Intimidator SS” special edition vehicles to honor the NASCAR legend.
One of the rarest and most memorable is the 2006 Silverado Intimidator SS. With only 933 units produced, it’s a coveted truck amongst enthusiast and Earnhardt fans.
The 345 hp RWD beast really was an intimidator. Its sleek black paint and chrome wheels, and custom grille gave it a mean look compared to the base Silverado.
On top of all of that, it also featured a lowered ride height and performance suspension.
If you’re lucky enough to see one of the these–with the large “Intimidator SS” badge on the back–take a picture or make the owner an offer!
The Middle Generation Landed During Tough Years for Pick-Up Sales (2007-2013)
The second generation Silverado came at a bad time in the American economy. Gas prices were going up, hybrids were on the rise, and the country’s love of big vehicles was at an all-time low.
Despite this, however, the new Silverado was bigger than the previous generation. But worst of all, GM poured a ton of resources into the GMT900 platform that the second generation Silverado was built.
This meant the company’s success depended on the sales from the trucks and SUVs that were simply out of place in 2007 and 2008. Sales dipped after 2005, reaching a low of 316,544 in 2009–a 65% drop from 2005, in which the company sold 705,980 trucks.
During the financial crisis of 2008, GM even had to put the development of its next-generation truck platform on hold. It didn’t resume that development until January of 2010.
With a host of improvements, though, the second generation Silverado was a really great truck. GM improved upon the strength of the chassis while cutting more weight, improved the braking, suspension, and even the interior.
The truck was meant to be faster, stronger, more comfortable, and more versatile. It’s just a shame a lot of these innovations were overshadowed by the economy.
There’s an Electric Version Made by a Company Chaired by Bob Lutz
A company called VIA Motors partnered with GM to created extended-range electric vehicles targeted primarily at the fleet level.
The company takes your standard Chevy Silverado, gives it an electric motor and generator, and turns it into a VIA VTRUX.
The VTRUX has a 40-mile all-electric range, with a gas-powered engine only in use when the batteries are depleted of power in order to recharge the batteries.
This technology is similar to what GM uses to power the Chevy Volt.
In fact, former GM vice chairman, Bob Lutz, joined the company in 2011. Known to many as the father of the Volt, it’s not surprising Lutz is looking to get involved in a new company dedicated to electrifying vehicles.
Being an innovative vehicle, however, comes at a steep price. The VTRUX starts at nearly $80,000.
Considering a base Silverado Work Truck with four-wheel drive costs somewhere around $30,000, though, those interested in a VTRUX will need to drive several hundred thousand miles before fuel savings ever start to take effect.