Pickups are enjoyable and comparatively low cost entries into the world of rear-wheel drive efficiency. Older vans particularly are easy to work on, supply sensational elements availability from each catalogs and scrap yards (the place thousands and thousands of their brethren sit ready to be picked aside), and could be made to just accept all kinds of drivetrains and suspension setups with relative ease.
Manufacturing unit efficiency vans are a comparatively new idea, nevertheless. Though outliers just like the Lil Crimson Specific had been round within the ’70s, it wasn’t till the early 90s that Detroit started to embrace the concept of constructing its personal scorching rods and testing the waters with its loyal pickups consumers. With flashy rides just like the turbocharged GMC Syclone and, later, the supercharged Ford F-150 Lightning grabbing many of the muscle truck glory, one of many pioneers of the phase has been largely forgotten: the Chevrolet 454 SS.
Large Block, Large Truck
From a design perspective there wasn’t actually something groundbreaking in regards to the 1990 Chevrolet 454 SS, which adopted the time-honored tenet of placing an enormous engine in a (comparatively) small platform. Okay, so the 454 SS was nonetheless a full-size truck, however it was the lightest iteration of that mannequin, a two-wheel drive, short-box, single-cab C1500 upgraded with a beefier entrance sway bar, Bilstein shocks, faster steering, and 275/65 R15 tires (which had been hefty for the pre-20-inch period).
Underneath the hood Chevrolet merely diverted a drivetrain from its heavy-duty pickup meeting line, a 454 cubic inch V-Eight rated at 230 horsepower and a whopping 385 lb-ft of torque. That latter determine was critical stuff for the day: the small-block within the ’90 Camaro IROC-Z was good for 245 horses however solely 345 lb-ft of twist. A 3-speed computerized transmission dealt with the shifting duties for the primary 12 months of manufacturing, with the SS able to reaching 60-mph in lower than eight seconds.
In fact, to make that straight-line run, you’d must be pretty considered with the throttle, as big-block pickups are infamous for lighting up the rear tires because of the lack of any actual weight over the again axle. That tendency solely elevated in ’91, when a brand new four-speed autobox introduced with it a 4.10 gear to interchange the earlier 3.73, together with a bump to 255 horses and 405 lb-ft of torque.
Straightforward To Spot, Low cost As Dust
Chevrolet actually wasn’t shy about promoting the existence 454 SS, which bore big stickers on both aspect of the field, a pink bowtie badge up entrance, and on some fashions an equally giant sticker on the mattress. 1990 fashions had been all black with a blacked-out grille, fog lights within the air dam, and chrome rims, with further colours (Summit White and Victory Crimson) showing in 1992 and 1993, which was the ultimate 12 months of manufacturing. Twin exhaust on the ’91-’93 fashions can be a give-away. On the within, distinctive bucket seats wrapped in pink upholstery and a middle console assist establish the pickups as one thing particular.
Nonetheless regardless of being inbuilt restricted numbers—roughly 17,000 whole, with 75 % of that determine leaving the manufacturing facility as 1990 fashions—the 454 SS by no means actually caught on with collectors or customizers. Positive, you’ll be able to spend $30ok on a sub-1000 mile time capsule if you wish to, however most of those vans commerce nicely underneath $10,000 for a pleasant driver, and half that for a undertaking. Evaluate that to Syclone costs (extra uncommon, and far faster), and it is apparent the place consumers have been focusing their consideration over time.
Higher but, it is extremely simple to clone one in all these scorching pickups for little or no cash. Begin out with a shortbox C1500, drop in a warmed-over 5.7-liter small-block, and you may duplicate the efficiency with out spending all that a lot money. Paint every little thing black and add some stickers, and you have got a ready-to-go SS tribute in your arms.
The Chevrolet 454 SS prompted a ripple impact within the truck market that may spawn a few of its most memorable efficiency fashions. We already talked about the supercharged Lightning (which was preceded by the 351-powered Lightning within the early 90s, a extra direct competitor to the SS), however even inside Normal Motors it is easy to see how the 454 led to autos just like the SSR faux-rod and, later, the Silverado SS. Over at Dodge, with out the Lightning, we’re unlikely to have seen the Ram SRT-10, which once more hyperlinks again to the 454 SS.