Vintage Snapshots: The Chevrolet Spartan

This picture, found at the Facebook group Missouri’s Historic Highways, was taken in December 1961.  It shows a snowplow and a motorgrader captured in the state capital in a location along US 50/63 that looks largely unchanged today.

So what’s the big deal?

Look at the emblem on the side of the hood of the plow truck.  It’s a Chevrolet Spartan.  Times have obviously changed as it’s hard to imagine any automaker putting such an un-luxurious sounding name on any current product.

Chevrolet’s Spartan model range existed during the late 1950s and early 1960s and was used on the heavier duty trucks.  Viking was used on medium-duty trucks with Apache on the light duty half-, three-quarter, and one-ton units.  Engine choices for the Spartan were gasoline units of up to 348 cubic inches; diesel wouldn’t come along until later.

By 1963 the Spartan name appears to have disappeared in favor of series names, such as Series 50, 60, and 80.  Chevrolet’s use of these series names had existed all along, with little use of the Spartan name in brochures, making it appear the “Spartan” name was primarily for advertising purposes, not unlike Chevrolet referring to all their trucks as “Sturdi-Bilt”.  For a fleet truck back then, calling it Spartan is likely fitting.