13. Chevrolet 454 SS
After almost two decades of slow low compression engines and safety and environmental laws, in the early 1990’s, U.S. manufacturers finally started to produce faster, more powerful models. The wave of new-found performance was so overwhelming, every pickup brand had its fast model, special version or limited edition. However, one of the most menacing and powerful was the mighty Chevrolet 454 SS.
The basic idea behind this model was to offer the biggest engine available in the lightest full-size truck. It was basically a muscle car philosophy in truck form. That is why Chevrolet’s engineers took an ordinary 1990 Chevy 1500 pickup truck with a short bed option and added a massive 454 V8 engine. The enormous 7.2-liter V8 was good enough for 230 to 255 horses, which was a diminutive number. But, it also had 385 lb-ft of torque, which made it fly down the road.
Chevy borrowed the big block engine from their heavy-duty truck lineup. Although it was durable, it was also a thirsty machine. On the outside, the 454 SS was low-key without any wild graphics or color choices. On the back of the bed, there was a model designation, but the only difference was a blackout front grille.
However, despite the big torque numbers, the 454 SS wasn’t that fast and couldn’t beat sports cars like the GMC Syclone, for example. Still, it was one of the fastest trucks around and a cool-looking vehicle.
14. Dodge Lil’ Express Truck
As you most likely know, Dodge was at the forefront of many special editions and limited truck models back in the 70’s. However, the best-known, highly sought-after model was none other than the Lil’ Express Truck. Dodge built it for just two years in 1978 and 1979, and in limited numbers. The importance of the Lil’ Express Truck lies in the strict rules of the late 70’s that robbed V8 engines of power and vehicles of performance.
But Dodge found an interesting loophole in the regulations that declared pickup trucks didn’t need catalytic converters. This meant Dodge could install a more powerful engine. So, it could breathe easier, delivering more punch than other truck models. And this is how the Lil’ Express Truck came to be. Dodge took the standard D Series short-bed truck and added a 360 V8 engine. They also put huge truck-like stacked exhaust pipes right behind the doors.
They also installed a durable automatic transmission. Dodge used a red color scheme with signature decals and details, and lots of chrome trim, too. This wild-looking special model produced 225 HP, which was a lot in those days. Thanks to the revised drivetrain, it was the fastest accelerating domestic vehicle in 1978. Just as a reminder, this Dodge pickup truck was faster than all the Mustangs, Camaros, and Corvettes in 1978.
The Lil’ Express Truck was back in 1979 and it remained famous. However, overall production numbers were relatively low, at just under 3,000. Today, car enthusiasts prize these rare, cool-looking Dodge trucks, so they command high prices.
If you can’t decide between a car or a truck, perhaps one of these models can fill the bill. You’ll need to pay a bit more, but if you will drive a fun, fast vehicle people will notice.