Chevrolet Kodiak

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Chevrolet Kodiak/GMC TopKick
Manufacturer General Motors
Production 1980–2009
Assembly Flint, Michigan
Toluca, Mexico
Bogota, Colombia
Tejerías, Venezuela[1]Janesville, Wisconsin
Body and chassis
Class Medium Duty Truck
Layout Front engine, rear-wheel drive / four-wheel drive

The Chevrolet Kodiak (also called GMC TopKick) is a line of medium duty trucks that was marketed and sold by General Motors from 1980 to 2009, when the company exited the medium-duty truck segment.

The Kodiak/TopKick were commonly used as a basis for work trucks, cargo haulers, dump trucks, and similar vehicles which required medium duty torque, GVWR, towing capacity. There are aftermarket coachbuilders that built them as pickup trucks and commercial trucks for consumers.

First generation (1980–1989)[edit]

First generation
ReggioLA MobileCommandPost (detail).jpg
1980-1989 Chevrolet Kodiak towing mobile police command post
Production 1980-1989
Body and chassis
Body style 2-door truck
4-door truck



For 1980, General Motors introduced the Chevrolet Kodiak and GMC TopKick as Class 5-7 conventional trucks. Slotted above the medium-duty C/K trucks and slightly below the Chevrolet Bruin/GMC Brigadier, the Kodiak/TopKick combined the updated cab of the C/K with a heavier-duty GVWR and a larger hood, allowing for mid-range diesel engines, up to the Caterpillar 3208 V8. Two-door and four-door cab configurations were available.

Distinguished by the C/K by its larger hood, the Kodiak/TopKick was given a full-width grille. In place of twin headlights inside the grille, the trucks were given quad rectangular headlights mounted below the grille; the Chevrolet/GMC emblem was moved from inside the grille to the grille. The Kodiak followed the Chevrolet naming tradition of "frontier beast" names for heavy conventionals (Chevrolet Bison and the Chevrolet Bruin) while the TopKick was a military slang term (in line with the GMC Brigadier and GMC General).

Shared with the C/K, the Kodiak/TopKick had two Chevrolet big-block engines for the gasoline engine lineup: a 6.0L V8 and a 7.0L V8. Two diesel engines were available: a Detroit Diesel 8.2L V8 (in turbocharged and naturally-aspirated "Fuel Pincher" form) and a Caterpillar 3208 turbocharged V8.

Second generation (1990–2002)[edit]

Second generation
Chevrolet Kodiak.png
1990-1994 Chevrolet Kodiak


1990-2008 (Mexico)
Body and chassis
Body style 2-door truck
4-door truck
Platform GMT530
Engine 8.1 liter V8 Big-Block gasoline
7.4 liter Vortec V8 gasoline
7.2 liter I6 diesel Caterpillar 3126B/E)
6.6 Caterpillar 3116
1997-2002 GMC TopKick in use as a crew transport truck

For 1990, General Motors redesigned the Kodiak/TopKick model lines as part of a redesign that consolidated its multiple large truck lines into a single product line. The GMC General and Astro had already been discontinued by Volvo GM, and General Motors consolidated the Chevrolet Bruin/GMC Brigadier, the medium-duty C/K, and the Kodiak/TopKick lines into the newly introduced 1990 Chevrolet Kodiak/GMC TopKick. Based on the all-new GMT530 architecture, the conventionals adopted their cabs from the GMT400 C/K pickup introduced in 1988. As before, two-door and four-door cab configurations were available; a raised-roof cab was an optional configuration.

Over its thirteen-year production run, the Kodiak/TopKick changed relatively little. In 1995, the Kodiak and TopKick nameplates were dropped, in favor of C4500-C8500 nameplates, bringing the medium-duty trucks in line with the rest of the C/K naming convention. In the mid-1990s, a low-profile "aerodynamic" hood became an option; it was not available in severe-service and school bus configurations. While U.S. production of the Kodiak/TopKick ended after 2002, it remained in production for the Mexican domestic market in the GM Toloca, Mexico facility through 2008.

As with its predecessor, the Kodiak/TopKick/medium-duty C used gasoline engines as the standard offering. The 6.0L V8 remained as the base engine until its mid-1990s discontinuation, while the 7.0L V8 was replaced in 1990 by a 7.4L V8; while a larger displacement, the 7.4L engine offered the advantage of fuel injection. In 2002, the 7.4L V8 was replaced by an 8.1L V8, the highest-displacement standard production engine ever built by Chevrolet. In addition to the gasoline engines, GM offered variants of the Caterpillar 3116 and 3126 inline-six diesels throughout the production run of the vehicle.

Third generation (2003–2009)[edit]

Third generation
GMC C5500 diesel crew cab, LIRR vehicle.jpg
GMC TopKick C5500 crew cab utility vehicle
Also called Isuzu H-Series
Production 2003–2009
Body and chassis
Body style 2-door truck
4-door truck
2-door cutaway
Platform GMT560
Related Chevrolet Express/GMC Savana
"Cadillac One"
Engine 6.6 L Duramax V8 diesel V8
7.8 L LG4 diesel I6
8.1 L L18 V8 gasoline
Transmission 5-speed manual
6-speed manual
9-speed manual
10-speed manual
5-speed automatic
6-speed automatic
Chevrolet Kodiak C5500 in use as a bus

For 2003, the General Motors medium-duty range was again redesigned. Due to their nameplate association, the Kodiak and TopKick nameplates were reinstated alongside their various model ranges. Based on the new GMT560 architecture, the Kodiak/TopKick made a major shift in their overall layout. To better compete with the class-leading International DuraStar and Freightliner Business Class M2, General Motors switched from a pickup-based cab to a more vertically-oriented cab based upon the Chevrolet Express/GMC Savana full-size van, allowing for better entry and exit. Although an extended cab was unavailable, a four-door crew-cab was produced with four full doors.

Depending on size range, the Kodiak/TopKick was available with several different engines. On 4500/5500 models, an 8.1L gasoline V8 was standard, with the option of a 6.6L diesel V8. On 6500 models and up, an Isuzu-built 7.8L diesel inline-6 was the only engine available. In 2005, factory-installed four-wheel drive was added as an option to Kodiak/TopKick C4500/5500s. These trucks featured solid front axles, instead of independent front suspension featured on the Class 3 3500 Silverado/Sierra. The drive-train consisted of a 6.6L Duramax V8 diesel, Allison 1000 transmission, and a Dana S 110 rear axle. The 4x4 models added a New Process 273 C Transfer case and a reverse cut Dana 70 front axle.

Isuzu H-Series[edit]

For 2003, Isuzu marketed a badge-engineered variant of the Kodiak/TopKick named the Isuzu H-Series. Based on the 6500/7500, the Isuzu H-Series was powered by the 7.8L inline-six shared in larger Kodiak/TopKicks and larger Isuzu COE trucks outside North America. Intended largely as a vocational truck, the H-Series was the first conventional sold by Isuzu.


In December 2007, GM announced its intention to sell its medium-duty truck business, including the Kodiak and TopKick, to Navistar International.[2] In August 2008, both GM and Navistar announced that their memorandum of understanding for the purchase had expired and was not renewed.[3][4]

After four years of working with multiple potential buyers, including an anticipated five-year deal with Isuzu Motors announced late in January 2009 to take over the production line in Flint, Michigan,[5] General Motors decided to wind down its medium-duty truck operations.[6] Production of the Chevy Kodiak and GMC TopKick medium duty trucks in Flint ceased on July 31, 2009.


School bus[edit]

Blue Bird/GMC school bus

Following in the tradition of its medium-duty C/K predecessor, the second-generation Kodiak/TopKick was utilized by General Motors to supply the school bus industry throughout its production run. In an unusual move at the time, starting in 1992, GM offered the Kodiak/TopKick solely to a single body manufacturer, Blue Bird Corporation from 1992 to 2002. While the GM chassis was not offered to other manufacturers, Blue Bird offered other available combinations (Ford B700, International 3800, and the later Freightliner FS65) for an additional price. The pairing of manufacturer and chassis supplier would become common through the 1990s in school bus manufacturing, but after 2002, General Motors would become unable to remain a chassis supplier. The Kodiak/TopKick school bus chassis is also notable for being one of the last full-size school bus chassis powered by a gasoline engine.

Pickup conversion[edit]

Chevrolet Kodiak K4500 with a 5th-wheel trailer-towing rear utility/pickup body

A special Kodiak C4500 was introduced at the 2006 Chicago Auto Show. Aimed at the International RXT (also introduced there), pricing was set at $70,000. The two shared a number of similarities, such as the options included in their premium packages (a powerful audio system and DVD-based navigation system). In comparison, the C4500 had higher power (300 hp versus 230 hp) while the RXT had a higher towing capacity at 16,000 lb (7,300 kg); the C4500 was a 4x4 like the larger International CXT.

A conversion of the commercial GMC TopKick called the Ultimate Class IV TopKick Pickup crew cab pickup truck was developed by General Motors and Monroe Truck Equipment (MTE). This special version features an 8-foot (2.4 m) steel dually pickup box and tailgate with custom composite side panels and protective Rhino interior lining. This vehicle serves as the alternate mode for the character Ironhide in the 2007, 2009 and 2011 Transformers films.

Cadillac One[edit]

"Cadillac One", a one-of-a-kind Cadillac body mounted on the Kodiak chassis.

Entering into service on January 20, 2009, Cadillac One is a common name for the Presidential State Car of United States President Barack Obama. Unlike previous presidential limousines, it is not at all based on a production vehicle, borrowing assemblies from several different vehicles from the 2009 Cadillac line (primarily the Escalade and STS). Although it wears a Cadillac limousine body and badging, the armored vehicle utilizes a four-wheel drive chassis and powertrain of a General Motors medium-duty truck (Chevrolet Kodiak/GMC TopKick).[7] Due to the high-security nature of its use, many details about Cadillac One remain classified.

External links[edit]

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