In a recent installment, The Street named the 1920 490 Flat Face as one of their Top Ten Chevrolet trucks. What makes their selection the most intriguing, however, is the history behind the 490 series itself, as the history behind that model is the history of the Chevrolet Motor Company’s very formation.
Essentially, the 490 “Light Delivery” that would come to be Chevy’s very first production truck was based on their 490 auto series, except that the Light Delivery version featured upgraded rear springs, along with an optional panel van body, wooden truck bed or cargo box. At this point, Chevrolet was a fairly new-and-rising automaker, but the 490 series, including the truck version, paved the way for various Chevrolet cars and trucks to come.
Interestingly enough, when William Durant and Louis Chevrolet started building cars in November of 1911 for the 1912 model year, their company had not yet become part of the General Motors family. Durant started the Chevrolet Motor Company on November 3, 1911, mostly as an attempt to generate revenue, which in turn would be used to obtain enough stock in GM to reclaim the company.
Chevrolet’s 490 series was introduced in 1918, the same year that Chevy officially became part of GM, and Chevy also sold their first trucks during that year.
The story of the 490 and the Light Delivery truck is the story of the American Dream, as “Billy” Durant was able to generate enough money from car sales by 1916 to control approximately 54.5% of GM’s stock. Indeed, without the introduction of the 490 series and the Light Delivery truck, Chevy, as we know it, would have never been!