Is there another vehicle that can go from blue-collar work to white-collar work and maintain its credibility as a working vehicle? Maybe, maybe not. But the Chevrolet Kodiak has and will continue to serve in multiple capacities as a medium duty truck, whether it’s used as a crew transport, a school bus, or carrying the President of the United States.
The Cadillac One, an armored vehicle which carried President Barack Obama to and from events starting in 2009, is not strictly a Cadillac. A combination of several vehicles (the exact plans of which are classified information), the Cadillac One rests on a Chevrolet Kodiak chassis, which was then covered by a Cadillac Escalade and other various and sundry vehicle parts.
Carrying the President of the United States is an enormous responsibility, as is another of the Chevrolet Kodiak’s jobs, as a schoolbus. Notably, the Chevrolet Kodiak was one of the last few medium-duty trucks to retain a gasoline engine. While the schoolbus venture was ended in 2002, the Chevrolet Kodiak became a popular choice for another industry as a conversion pick-up, the Ultimate Class IV TopKick Pickup, which was chosen to star in a film, as Ironhide’s alternate mode in the first three films in the Transformers franchise.
The Chevrolet Kodiak, also known as the GMC TopKick, arrived on the scene in 1980 as a front-engine, rear-wheel or four-wheel drive, medium duty truck. It was manufactured in Canada (Quebec), the U.S. (Michigan and Wisconsin), Mexico (Toluca), Colombia (Bogota), Venezuela (Tejerias), and Brazil (Sao Jose dos Campos). They were sold primarily as cargo haulers, dump trucks, and work trucks, all of which required a large towing capacity as well as medium duty torque.
Available as a two-door or a four-door, the first generation of the Chevrolet Kodiak had a mid-range diesel engine, a larger hood than the C/K, a heavier GVWR, and a larger grille. Though it was not as large as the Chevrolet Bruin/GMC Brigadier, it still managed to be put in the 5-7 class. Like its counterparts the Bison and Bruin, the Chevrolet Kodiak was named after a large beast (a bear in this case), and given a military slang nickname (the Topkick, like the Brigadier). It was available as a gasoline or diesel vehicle.
In 2003, a variant of the Chevrolet Kodiak was sold primarily as a vocational truck under the Isuzu brand. The Isuzu H-Series, as it was called, came equipped with a 7.8L inline-six, was was largely used outside of North America. It should be noted that this was the first conventional vehicle to be sold by Isuzu.
Though there was talk in 2007 of Navistar International taking over the production of the Chevrolet Kodiak, an agreement was never reached and instead the vehicle was discontinued in 2009, after almost 30 years on the road. However, this year, it was revealed that the Kodiak (under the new name of the Silverado 4500 and 5500) will re-enter the workforce in 2018, after nearly 10 years in retirement. They will all come equipped with diesel engines and Allison transmissions. We’re glad to have you back, Kodiak.
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