Chevrolet has long been known for making rough-and-ready pickup trucks capable of tackling the toughest of tasks. But of all the heavy-duty trucks by Chevrolet, the heaviest is the Silverado 3500. The vehicle of choice for many Americans for towing and hauling huge loads, the Chevrolet Silverado 3500 heavy-duty pickup truck is renowned for its superior strength and durability, capable of pulling anything from small fishing boats to huge travel trailers.
The early years: From 490 (1918) to 3500 (2001)
The Chevrolet Silverado 3500 can trace its ancestry as far back as 1918 with Chevrolet’s first mass-production truck, the 490 light delivery truck, but it was not until 1988 that modern-day heavy-duty Silverado pickups were produced. Back then, the truck was known simply as the 3500–a number nomenclature based on the truck’s 1-ton weight–followed by the prefix C or K depending on whether the truck is equipped with a rear-wheel or four-wheel drive, respectively.
The first true Silverado 3500 pickup was released in 2001 and was basically a strengthened heavy-duty version of the Silverado 1500 light-duty truck. The 3500 featured a 300-horsepower Duramax V8 that enabled it to tow as much as 16,700 pounds or haul 5,511 pounds of cargo. Two optional engines for the 3500 was also offered: an 8.1-liter gasoline V8 with an output of 340 horsepower and a 6.6-liter turbo diesel with 300-horsepower output. Other features of the 3500 also included an Allison 1000 transmission, dually twin rear wheels, and a suspension system specially designed to match the 3500’s primary purpose as a towing high-weight cargo transport vehicle.
2006: The GMT900
The second generation of the Silverado was introduced in 2006 under the new GMT900 platform. Like other GMT900-platform vehicles, the 3500 had better aerodynamics that improved fuel economy. Engine options are either the 6-liter 367-horsepower V8 or the 6.6-liter 397-horsepower Duramax diesel V8, while transmissions are either 4-speed manual or 6-speed automatic. In addition, the Silverado 3500 also comes with a standard four-wheel anti-lock braking and an optional Stabilitrak electronic stability control system and side curtain airbags. Later models were also equipped with a stronger side structure, side torso air bags, and side airbags for additional safety.
2007 onwards: The 3500HD
The Silverado 3500 ceased production in 2007, and it was replaced by the Silverado 3500HD. This newest and latest generation of the 3500 has a radically improved interior but retains the sturdy frame and suspension and powerful engine choices of its predecessors. The Silverado 3500HD comes with either a 360-horsepower V8 or a 397-horsepower Duramax turbodiesel V8 engine paired to a six-speed automatic transmission. It is also available in regular, extended, and crew cab designs with rear or four-wheel drive and optional dual rear wheels.