Thursday, October 6, 2011

Chev and GMC in the big tilt cab business

General Motors was certainly a major player in class 8 tilt cab trucks. To replace the F model Crackerbox Jimmy, they came up with the Chev Titan 90 and the GMC Astro 95 in 1968. Both space/rocket names they were trying to cash in on the space age with these sleek aluminum cab tilts. More sophisticated styling appealed to fleets and owner operators, and I am sure they were price competitive with Ford. Compared with the clumkier Freightliners and Petes, they were certainly more up to date looking. They also had plush interiors.
Chev produced the Titan 90 from 1969 to 1980 (they dropped the "90" for the last year.)
GMC produced the Astro 95 from 1968 to 1987 (it was the Astro, without a number after 1980.) Also in 1980 they went with the bigger grille, which had been an option the previous year.
My pre-occupation with dromedary boxes in the 1980s may give the impression that only movers used these trucks, but that is far from the case. They could be seen in all lines of work.
1. Taken from the back seat of a passing car (you can see the defroster wires crossing the photo.) This Chev Astro 90 is making good speed on a downhill - somewhere in New Brunswick, August 1973. Miss Viola has an illuminated "A" up front - I didn't record an owner. Tarp top trailers were the norm in those days.

2. "Where WereYa" "What Kept Ya" - words a trucker might hear all to often. This GMC Astro 95 was at the freezer plant on the Halifax waterfront taking on fish, September 1975. He's already got his cold weather tarp on the grille.

3. Dean Mackie ran this large grille Astro 95 for Coleman's of Oshawa, October 21, 1979. The big grille was an option on the high end models before the 1980 model year.

4. No amount of custom fender faring was going to make up for the lack of aerodynamics in this load! Stake side trailers bulging with all sorts of strange loads were once common on the roads. Fredericton, NB August 3, 1984. This is the only photo I have of an Astro or Titan with stacked headlights-maybe a custom touch.

5. Seaboard had this short wheelbase Astro in tank hauling service July 11, 1987. Note the odd "witches hat" air cleaner intake.

6. Daycabs were not unknown, but I think they were rare-particularly in moving service. North American Van Lines of Calgary had this one in Dartmouth, NS July 9, 1988 for the annual Canadian Forces re-posting crunch, where every truck was on the road, moving personnel from coast to coast and places between (in this case likely to Cold Lake, AB.)

7. I don't think I would want to do door to door pick ups in this one, but any truck will do when you need one. Not sure if its a Chev or GMC. Burnside February 22, 1990. He certainly has the front well quilted to keep a little warmth in the cab.

8. Home Hardware ran a large fleet of trucks from their St.Jacobs, ON distribution centre, including this modified GMC. The accordion fold lid was odd enough, but the grille and bumper were certainly unique. This must have been an experimental model to determine the benefits of streamlining. June 2, 1990.

9. Outaouais Moving moved the fuel tank back under the drom on this long wheelbase Astro. June 30, 1990.

10. One of each. A Titan on the left, and an Astro on the right. The Titan has seen some miles. When this was taken at The Lady Wentworth at Streets Ridge, NS June 10, 1992, the truck was at least 12 years old. The GMC was five years old or more.

11. The Canadian Broadcasting Corp had this Chev Titan 90 in service for many years with its mobile control centre. It was relatively low mileage and well cared for, and was more than 15 years old when I took this in Halifax April 9, 1994. Like those big rear tires with the Mack mudflap!

12. Second career GMC Astro. Fish dealers like straight trucks with sleepers so they can deliver fast and fresh, but this one has no reefer motor. It must be used to carry a high value/low weight or dangerous cargo, such as explosives. Fredericton, NB, June 30, 1994.


  1. I found one! When I read this, it was all new to me - I don't think I'd ever seen one before. Was down in Calais, Maine a weekend ago and got terribly excited when I spotted one with a For Sale sign in the window. It shows up on Google Street View too, so I think it's been there for a few years at least.

  2. that 79 titan 90 cbc used to own has been
    sitting in a back yard in moncton n.b for
    years, i know cause i tryed to purches it 3 years ago, but it's not for sale. it should be pulled out of where it is. it has a 8v71 318 detroit with a 10 speed road ranger.
    180,000 km, what a shame, left to rott.

  3. The Astro in picture #8 is an Aero Astro. They were produced in 1983 and 1984. The acordian Drag Foiler on the roof was adjustable to meet the height of the trailer for the best possible aerodynamics.