Chevrolet Bison

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Chevrolet Bison
GMC General
1984 GMC General; Dual Headlights-Dual Rear Axle.JPG
1984 GMC General
Overview
Type Truck
Manufacturer GMC Truck & Coach Division
Model years 1977-1987
Assembly United States: Pontiac, Michigan (Pontiac Assembly Center)
Body and chassis
Class Class 8 truck
Layout FR layout (4x2, 6x4)
Chassis Ladder frame
Powertrain
Engine Diesel (Caterpillar, Cummins, Detroit Diesel)
Chronology
Predecessor Chevrolet C/M 90
GMC C/M 9500
Successor Volvo GM: WhiteGMC

The Chevrolet Bison and GMC General are heavy-duty (Class 8) trucks[1] that were assembled by the GMC Truck and Coach Division of General Motors. The largest conventional-cab truck ever produced by GM, the product line was introduced for 1977, replacing the C/M 90/9500 trucks. As General Motors removed Chevrolet from the heavy-truck market in 1981, the Bison was discontinued. In 1987,[2] the GMC General was phased out as the Volvo GM joint venture introduced WhiteGMC trucks based on White designs; alongside the Brigadier, the General is currently the last Class 8 truck produced by GMC.

The Chevrolet Bison and GMC General were assembled in Pontiac, Michigan at Pontiac (East) Assembly Center alongside the Chevrolet Bruin and GMC Brigadier.

Background[edit]

In 1966, GMC Truck and Coach introduced its first dedicated heavy-duty trucks, moving away from trucks adapted from the smaller C/K line. The division introduced two lines using a common cab, the H/J-Series (93-inch BBC) and the C/M-Series (112-inch BBC).[3] Using a longer hood, the C/M-series trucks were designed to accommodate larger diesel engines, such as the Cummins NH and Cummins V903, and the Detroit Diesel 8V71. The center-hinged "butterfly" hood of the H/J-series was replaced on the C/M by a front-hinged fiberglass hood.[3] Following the introduction of the medium-duty C/K in 1973, the 112-inch BBC truck was consolidated to the M-Series.[3]

During 1977 and 1978, GMC Truck and Coach further split its heavy-duty truck range. The Chevrolet M90/GMC M9500 were replaced by the Chevrolet Bison and GMC General in 1977, with the H/J range renamed the Chevrolet Bruin/GMC Brigadier in 1978.

Design overview[edit]

Similar in layout to the Ford LTL-9000, International Harvester Transtar 4300, and Mack Super-Liner, the Chevrolet Bison and GMC General are Class 8 conventional trucks. Produced with an all-aluminum cab built by Budd, the trucks were available in many different combinations.[3] Two hood lengths were available, with a 108-inch or 116-inch BBC length.[3] A 34-inch long sleeper cab was available in addition to the standard cab, with a walk-in sleeper cab added in 1985.[3]

While no gasoline engines were available, several diesel powerplants were available, with the Detroit Diesel 6-71 (later replaced by the 6V92) as the standard engine. Alongside the 6-71, a buyer could choose the Cummins N-series, or Detroit Diesel 8V71 and 8V92.[3] Following its introduction in the GMC Astro, the Caterpillar 3406 was introduced in 1982.[3]

When introduced in 1977, the Bison/General were available from dealers as vehicle gliders.[3] Essentially a complete truck with the exception of the engine, transmission, and rear axles, the incomplete vehicles were designed for a dual purpose: to either reinstall an existing powertrain in a new truck or to allow for further customization not available from a dealership.[3]

Discontinuation[edit]

Following the launch of the product line, the GMC General quickly overtook the Chevrolet Bison in sales and market share. In 1981, General Motors ended sales of heavy trucks by the Chevrolet Division, leading to the cancellation of the Chevrolet Bruin, Bison, and Titan. A major factor leading to the cancellation was lack of product support by Chevrolet dealers. In contrast to other GM brands, a key requirement of GMC franchisees of the time was the ability to sell and service the entire GMC product line. In addition to light trucks, this meant a potential GMC franchise needed the ability to support medium-duty trucks, heavy-duty commercial trucks, the GMC motorhome, P-chassis, and school bus chassis. For a typical dealership, this meant dedicating profitable space that would have otherwise gone to selling passenger cars.

In 1986, Volvo AB entered into a joint venture with General Motors in heavy-truck production,[2] with Volvo taking an 85% stake.[3] Having acquired White Motor Company in 1980, the joint venture would do business as Volvo GM Heavy Truck Corporation, selling trucks under the combined WhiteGMC product badge.

Under the joint venture, GMC trucks were phased out in favor of White-designed Volvo GM products. In 1987, the final GMC General was produced. Largely replaced by the WhiteGMC WC/WI (shared with Autocar), the GMC General is the last Class 8 truck produced by General Motors. In 1988, GMC ended production of the Brigadier, exiting the heavy-truck market altogether.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "1977 Chevy Bison Brochure". General Motors. September 1976. Retrieved 28 May 2016. 
  2. ^ a b Donald E. Meyer, GMC Truck Historian (April 14, 2008). "A Brief Outline of the First Century of GMC Truck History". General Motors Heritage Center. Retrieved 28 May 2016. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Meyer, Donald. "THE FIRST CENTURY OF GMC TRUCK HISTORY" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-11-16. 

External links[edit]