2007 Chevrolet Colorado Crew Cab Z71 Plus conceptPrior to a recent fondness, the design of Chevy’s first generation Colorado had always underwhelmed and, in some ways, even irked me. The Colorado Crew Cab Z71 Plus Concept, first shown at the 2006 SEMA Show, inspired hope an update was on the horizon.

Each subsequent year made it clearer the concept’s design refinements were but a mirage and there would be no noteworthy refresh of the first-gen Colorado. There was sweet consolation, however. One of the concept’s better features did survive to production and remains to this day nigh impossible to procure.

So, what’s this beef I have… er, had with the original Colorado’s looks? I’ve always considered GM’s smaller trucks to be pace setters, starting as far back as 1972, with Chevy’s LUV. Granted, it was an Isuzu masquerading as a Chevy but it wore a Bow Tie. The LUV’s second generation arrived for 1981 but the model was phased out, after 1982, in favor of Chevy’s all-new and homegrown S-10.

1981-82 Chevrolet LUV

LUV stood for “light utility vehicle.” This is a second generation model, representative of years 1981 and 1982. The LUV was an Isuzu imported by Chevy and called the Faster outside the U.S. The truck was eventually sold stateside by Isuzu, as the “P’up.”

The S-10 lost some of the LUV’s streamlining but it was larger and fell in line with contemporary styling dogma. More than ever GM was digging into the small truck segment, having beat Ford’s Ranger to market by a year. Not including its unibody, subcompact Rampage, Dodge didn’t produce a homegrown junior-sized truck until its mid-size Dakota was introduced, for 1987.

1982-90 Chevrolet S-10 extended cab

The first generation S-10 (1982 through 1993) rode on the GMT325 platform. This extended cab (which debuted in 1983) is a pre-facelift example which was essentially unchanged through 1990. Its neatly creased, boxy design looks rugged and timeless.

1993-97 Chevrolet S-10 extended cab

Remaining on the GMT325 platform, the second-generation S-10 (1993 through 2004) was a chip off the ol’ block, although… less blocky. It is the last true compact truck Chevy sold in the U.S. This example is prior to the 1998 refresh.

Streamlining defined the 1990s S-10 but, as with any styling trend, it was only generational. Following brief overlap in 2004, curves gave way to creases and Chevy’s compact trucks were replaced by the all-new, mid-size Colorado pickup.

Admittedly, I was quite slow to embrace the crumpled-foil look.

2004-12 Chevrolet Colorado regular cab

Moved to a new platform with a clean-sheet design, the first generation Colorado rode on GMT355. This generation was produced for models years 2004 through 2012.

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