Rapid Trucks


1905 Rapid Model C51 1-Ton Delivery

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Written by Mike Brazeau

The history of the Rapid Motor Vehicle Company starts in Detroit, Michigan at the beginning of the Twentieth Century. The Grabowsky brothers, Max, an engineer and part time inventor and Morris, a business man, built a gasoline powered commercial vehicle of their own design and formed the Grabowsky Motor Vehicle Company. Their first delivery car had a single cylinder engine that was only capable of speeds up to 10 mph. It was under powered and not considered a success. In 1902, a 15-hp engine with 2 horizontally opposed cylinders was built. The company was reorganized under the Rapid Motor Vehicle Company name and 75 vehicles were produced and sold over the next few years.

In March 1904, the Rapid Motor Vehicle Company was incorporated with $13,000 capitalization. A new plant was built in Pontiac, Michigan in 1905, as a result of additional financial assistance from the Pontiac Spring & Wagon Works. It is believed to be the first building ever erected specifically for the manufacturer of commercial vehicles. This then modern plant allowed for the production of about 200 vehicles a year.

During 1908, General Motors founder William C. Durant began buying up Rapid's stock and the company soon found itself being represented by GM's sales force. GM was growing quickly and brought Rapid fully under the corporate umbrella in 1909 - the year that a Rapid truck made headlines by climbing to the top of Pike's Peak. GM had also acquired Reliance Motor Truck Company and formed the General Motors Truck Company (from which GMC Truck was made) to handle the sale of Rapid and Reliance trucks. In 1912 the name "GMC Truck" was first shown at the New York Auto Show. Rapid and Reliance trucks were formally changed to the GMC truck line in 1913 and the rest is history.

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