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A Passion for Pickups

Durable Chevrolet trucks have enduring appeal for classic car enthusiasts in Thailand

BANGKOK, THAILAND – If you ask Mr. Nakorn Maiyarat of Bangkok why he has two vintage Chevrolet pickup trucks, he may tell you it’s because he is an art collector and “a classic Chevy pickup isn’t just a truck; it is a work of art.”

When Chevrolet revealed its Colorado pickup truck in Thailand in September 2011, Nakorn was one of several local owners of classic Chevy trucks who participated in the event, displaying his 1954 Apache Stepside pickup; his other classic Chevy truck dates from 1959. Nakorn has been a member of an all-Thai American classic car club for the past 10 years, and by his estimation, there are possibly 200 classic Chevrolet pickup trucks in Thailand.

The fact that these old trucks are still operational reflects General Motors long-time commitment to manufacturing high quality vehicles. Today, all Chevrolet vehicles are built using GM’s global Built-In Quality principle and processes to ensure durability and reliability.

One of the club members, Mr. Arpakorn Sricharong of Ratchaburi, found his 1960 Apache in a second-hand shop. It was in rough condition, but Arpakorn felt compelled to renovate it, with the help of fellow club members. He said: “I really love my American pickup truck. Every part of it is special. Compared to other trucks, only Chevy gives me a truly American feeling.”

Of the appeal of owning a classic American pickup, Arpakorn added: “We can't buy time, but driving a vintage car or truck is like buying the memory of another time. I used to watch this kind of truck in western movies, but now I sit in the driver's seat with more than a feeling of pride. It is happiness and you feel so special renovating and driving this kind of car.”

The sense of nostalgia connected to American classic pickup trucks is not uncommon in Thailand. Mr. Chalee Yimyong of Bangkok, who owns a 1966 Chevrolet C10 Stepside, said: “I bought my Chevy from an old man in Nakhon Phanom who bought it from the U.S. Air Force at the end of the Vietnam War. I love it because it looks manly and tough.”

The decision to show vintage Chevy trucks at the launch of the Colorado in 2011 wasn’t for the sake of novelty. It was done to demonstrate General Motors’ nearly 100 years as a major player in the pickup truck segment, including nearly 70 years of Chevrolet models, and their enduring appeal.

It should come as no surprise that Marcos Purty, Managing Director of GM Thailand and Chevrolet Sales Thailand, has a lot of experience with Chevrolet pickups, having worked in three plants in the United States building the brand’s full-size trucks

“I love learning about the history of Chevrolet pickup trucks, and I see the current Colorado that we build and sell in Thailand as a natural extension of that heritage, especially how it is built to last – just like the classic Chevy pickups you can see around Thailand,” Purty said.

Here are a few highlights from the history of Chevrolet pickup trucks:

The Advance Design Series (1947-55) was GM’s first all-new vehicle after World War II. The 1955½ edition was the first to feature a small-block V8 engine, which powered the Corvette too. The Advance Design Series laid the foundation for Chevrolet in the segment, and it was the truck that got GM and America working again after the war.

  • The Task Force Series (1955-59) included the Apache light-duty model and Cameo variant, which was the brand’s first personal-use pickup. With its two-tone paint and two-tone upholstery, the Cameo was high-style, featuring many of the same design cues as the classic Chevrolet Bel Air sedan.

  • The 1961-64 Corvair 95 Rampside introduced a new concept to the pickup truck segment: a side gate with a hinge that doubled as a ramp when opened. The Rampside was a very different kind of pickup, and really showed GM’s ability to innovate, something we continue to do on today’s trucks.

  • The 1970 El Camino also introduced a new concept to the segment: the styling of a muscle car with the open cargo bed instead of a rear trunk.

  • The C/K Series (1960-99) included the influential 1988 model that was partly responsible for the sport truck trend that became popular during the 1990s and continues today, as in the recently introduced Colorado High Country Sport Edition.

  • The Silverado Series (1999-Current) included the 2001 model with 6.6-Liter Duramax Diesel that broke new ground in horsepower, torque and fuel economy, and helped GM triple its market share by 2002. GM builds Duramax engines in Thailand and exports them to North America for the Colorado.

  • The 2002 Avalanche introduced a unibody exterior styling with patented convert-a-cab system that made it versatile for carrying passengers or cargo, by offering pass-through access between the cabin and bed and a removable rear window – one of the many innovations GM brought to the segment.

  • The 2015 Colorado High Country (Thailand) and 2016 Colorado (USA) are two versions of Chevrolet’s popular midsize pickup truck. It is Chevrolet’s most important model in Thailand, and it is gaining popularity in North America, with some models using the Duramax built in Thailand.

“The Colorado builds on the brand’s unsurpassed pickup truck heritage,” Purty said. “Given the interior refinement and advanced technologies that have come to the model in recent years, it has never been a better time to be a pickup truck owner.”