Everyone remembers the GMC Syclone as General Motors’ original performance pickup truck (not to mention its Typhoon sibling), but the Chevrolet 454 SS was an old-school muscle truck with a massive 7.4-liter V8 engine and a buttoned-down suspension. The 454 SS was just over $20,000 when new, which was expensive for a pickup truck in the early 1990s but about the same as a modestly equipped Ford Explorer SUV. How times have changed.
A dealer in Roseville, California, is offering what has to be one of the nicest 454 SS trucks left. This first-year example features a 230-hp version of that big V8 — a 25-hp upgrade arrived a year later — and it has been driven just 725 miles. Plastic still covers its red cloth bucket seats and matching carpeting. Predictably, its bed looks like it’s never been used.
The 454 SS came only in Onyx Black at its launch, and it featured a matching grille, chrome steel wheels and NASCAR-like badging on its bed. Underneath, it used Bilstein shocks and a steering ratio tweaked for faster response. The V8’s 230 hp wasn’t as much of a draw as its 385 lb-ft of torque, though it came paired only with a 3-speed automatic transmission.
Other than the 454 SS, the most powerful half-ton truck in the GM stable in 1990 was the 210-hp, 300 lb-ft 5.7-liter V8, so the extra power certainly didn’t go unnoticed.
Equipment-wise, the 454 SS was perched at the top of the contemporary Chevy truck lineup. Trucks weren’t as lavish back then, but features such as power windows and locks, cruise control and a tape player with a digital equalizer were worth bragging about. The burgundy interior was a nod to Chevy’s racing patron saint, Dale Earnhardt, whose cars were black over red.
In terms of collectibility, this first-year 454 SS is hard to beat for its conditioning. For drivability, the 1991 model’s extra power, 4-speed automatic transmission and tachometer would make it the better truck to enjoy. Still, good luck finding one as clean as this one.
Chevy cranked out the 454 SS from 1990 through 1993, and Ford eventually followed suit with its 1993 F150 Lightning. The performance pickup truck segment has waxed and waned over the past 30 years, but there’s no question that the 454 SS laid the groundwork. Find a Chevrolet Pickup for sale
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