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Pickup Truck Passion Goes to the Xtreme

Durable Chevrolet trucks have enduring appeal in Thailand

BANGKOK, THAILAND – The Chevrolet Colorado Xtreme, a show vehicle with an exciting tough persona unveiled at the 37th Bangkok International Motor Show, is the latest evolution in the American brand’s legendary line of pickup trucks.

When Chevrolet revealed an all-new Thai-built Colorado in 2011, the brand showed it alongside Thai-owned classic pickups from throughout GM’s long history, including nearly 70 years of Chevrolet models. The event highlighted GM and Chevrolet’s enduring appeal among pickup truck enthusiasts.

The fact that these old trucks are still operational reflects GM’s 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.

Nakorn Maiyarat of Bangkok is one of the classic truck owners who participated in the 2011 event, displaying a 1954 Apache Stepside pickup. His other classic Chevrolet truck dates back to 1959. Nakorn has been a member of an all-Thai American classic car club for the past 10 years. He estimates there may be 200 classic Chevrolet pickup trucks in Thailand. He said, “A classic Chevrolet pickup isn’t just a truck; it is a work of art.”

Another member of the club, Arpakorn Sricharong of Ratchaburi, found his 1960 Apache at a used car facility. It was in rough condition, but Arpakorn renovated 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 truck brands, only Chevrolet gives me a truly American feeling.”

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. 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. Chalee Yimyong of Bangkok, who owns a 1966 Chevrolet C10 Stepside, said: “I bought my Chevrolet from an old man in Nakhon Phanom who had bought it from the U.S. Air Force at the end of the Vietnam War. I love it because it looks manly and tough.”

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 at three plants in the U.S. building the brand’s full-size trucks.

“I love learning about the history of Chevrolet pickup trucks,” he said. “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 Chevrolet pickups you can see around Thailand.”

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 V-8 engine, which also powered the Corvette. The Advance Design Series laid the foundation for Chevrolet in the segment, and it was the truck that got GM and the U.S. 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. It really showed GM’s ability to innovate, something Chevrolet continues to do with today’s trucks.
  • The 1970 El Camino also introduced a new concept to the segment: the styling of a muscle car with an open cargo bed instead of a trunk.
  • The C/K Series (1960-99) included the influential 1988 model, which 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-today) included the 2001 model with a 6.6L Duramax diesel engine that broke new ground in horsepower, torque and fuel economy, and helped GM triple its market share by 2002.
  • The 2002 Avalanche introduced unibody exterior styling with the 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 (U.S.) are two versions of Chevrolet’s popular midsize pickup truck. The Colorado High Country is Chevrolet’s most important model in Thailand, where it received the Car of the Year award. The Colorado is gaining popularity in North America, with some models using the Thai-built 2.8L Duramax engine that helped it capture the 2016 Motor Trend Truck of the Year award.

“The production Colorado and the Colorado Xtreme show vehicle build on Chevrolet’s unsurpassed pickup truck heritage,” Purty said. “With the Colorado Xtreme, Chevrolet is demonstrating its expertise and leadership in the pickup truck segment, while hinting at an exciting direction for its products in Thailand in the near future.”