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You may already know that GMC stands for General Motor Company. But did you know that it once stood for Grabowsky Motor Company? When General Motors bought the Grabowsky brothers’ truck business in 1909, it kept the acronym GMC. Though the acronym has stayed the same for over a century, it has had several different meanings through the decades.

What did GMC originally stand for?

Back in 1902, GMC stood for the Grabowsky Motor Vehicle Company. The automaker was founded by Max and Morris Grabowsky, and it built trucks for fleets–according to

Closeup of a classic General Motors Company GMC logo on the grille of a truck at an auto show.
General Motors Company logo | Getty Images

The Grabowsky brothers‘ first sale was to the American Garment Cleaning Company of Detroit. The Grabowskys continued to build excellent work trucks and delivery vehicles for six years, eventually catching the attention of General Motors. By this time, the brand was called the Rapid Motor Vehicle Company–according to GM.

There are conflicting accounts as to when and why the Grabowskys changed their company’s name, and what exactly it was called when GMC bought it. But we do know that a decade before the first Chevrolet truck, General Motors bought a controlling share in the Grabowskys’ company, and its salespeople began selling Rapid trucks. GM renamed Rapid Trucks General Motors Truck Company, resurrecting the Grabowskys’ “GMC” logo.

Does GM own GMC?

Buick, Chevrolet, and Cadillac’s parent company is General Motors–also known as GM. To make matters more confusing, another one of GM’s brands is GMC–or General Motors Company. So technically GM owns GMC.

A General Motors Company dealership, the GMC logo visible on the grille of several pickup trucks parked in the front row of the lot.
GMC dealership | Brandon Bell/Getty Images

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General Motors resurrected the GMC logo from Rapid Trucks’ Grabowsky Motor Vehicle Company. But this time around, the acronym stood for General Motors Truck Company. This division of GM continued to make trucks. In 1918, GM also introduced the first Chevrolet truck–complete with its familiar bowtie badge.

The GMC division built trucks for both World Wars, military ambulances, cargo vehicles, and troop carriers. GMC also built an “Electric Work Truck” powered by batteries–in 1912. Then in 1925 a GMC truck set the coast-to-coast Cannonball speed record.

In 1943, GM decided to add buses to GMC’s portfolio. It bought “Yellow Truck & Coach,” and combined the brand with GMC. Then it renamed the new company the General Motors Truck & Coach Division. The acronym GMC didn’t get its modern meaning until 1998.

What does GMC stand for?

Today, GMC stands for General Motors Company. It is a division of General Motors that builds “professional grade” pickup trucks, SUVs, and crossovers.

The grille of a GMC Sierra pickup truck that is parked in front of a house, its General Motors Company logo visible.
2022 GMC Sierra Denali Ultimate | General Motors

This truck manufacturer has used GMC as its logo for over a century. But GMC wasn’t named General Motors Company until a 1998 rebranding. From its Grabowski Motor Company days, to its General Motors Truck Company era, and even through its time as the General Motors Truck & Coach Division–GMC has actually had many different names.


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