Sometimes you can just look at a vehicle and think, “I bet that driver owns a Hard Rock Cafe t-shirt.” And while most trucks don’t make good cars, the rare performance-special 454SS doesn’t make much of a truck either. For $34,000 (in 2015), you got 2wd, a regular cab, regular bed, two seats, a 1,000-lb payload, and 10 mpg on the highway. Gas was cheaper then. In a way, it’s like a Corvette with a fuel leak and blown struts, but more room for empty beer cans in the back. That’s good enough for some people. Find this 1991 Chevrolet 454SS for sale in Yakima, WA for $9,000 via craigslist.
Before the SS, the SSR, or the HHR, there was the 454SS. Chevy built 16,953 of these trucks in its first year, 1990, and just 3,205 from 1991-1993. All had the big throttle-body injected 454 engine, Bilstein gas-filled shock obsorbers, a bigger front sway bar, fast-ratio steering gear assembly, and other special bits. but the later years are the ones to get. 1990 models had 230 horsepower and 385 lb-ft of torque, while subsequent years were blessed with 255 and 405, respectively. The three-speed TH400 was replaced with a four-speed auto for more relaxed highway driving. A tachometer was also added. Despite the lopsided production figures and technological inferiority, undriven 1990s frequently list for $25,000 on eBay. I don’t understand cars sometimes.
Non-1990 models have held their value too, however, as evidenced by this car’s 165,000 odometer reading and $9,000 price tag. It’s largely original, down to the Garnet Red cloth interior and badges. The exhaust has shrunk up into an aftermarket bumper like it just stepped into a cold pool. Inside, an additional set of speakers have prolapsed from the door panels.
Motor Trend tested these at 15.8 seconds in the quarter mile, with a 0-60 time in the mid 7s, about the same as a 225-horsepower 1991 Mustang GT. They handled well for a truck – even better than their full-sized, 454-packing muscle-car forefathers (which isn’t an accolade to be proud of). They may never appreciate the way the GMC Typhoon/Syclone surely will, but the torque rush from the big-block V8 is special in its own way. Special, like a barbed-wire tattoo.
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