10. Chevrolet SSR
In the early 2000s, retro design was the king. Introducing new cars with classic shapes seemed to be the ticket for success. Chevrolet thought that it would be a great idea to present a retro-styled truck, but with a sporty feel and retractable hardtop. It seemed like a crazy idea, but They thought it would work as a lifestyle vehicle for people who wanted a sports car with retro charm and more space for all their needs.
No one is exactly sure who was in charge of the Chevrolet product development department at the time. But whoever it was had a wild imagination. So, Chevrolet introduced a vehicle in 2003 and called it the Super Sports Roadster (SSR). They built it on the SUV platform with a Corvette V8 engine. It came with a fold-down hardtop and tight cabin for only two passengers.
The SSR was like a modern hot rod. It looked cool with a glorious soundtrack from its small block V8. It delivered approximately 400 HP and had dual exhaust pipes. The performance wasn’t as impressive. A sprint to 60 mph took around six seconds, but it wasn’t slow, either.
With the retro design, big wheels and strange silhouette, it was something different on the street. However, the market response was mild. The price was north of $45,000, which meant it wasn’t affordable.
Soon, older people started buying SSRs as midlife crisis cars. That killed the model since it wasn’t cool anymore in eyes of the younger crowd. The end came in 2006 after Chevy built approximately 24,000 SSRs.
11. Jeep Honcho
During the 70’s, most truck manufacturers experienced trouble selling their products. The recession and bad fuel economy repelled most buyers from big trucks with thirsty V8 engines. However, many small compact trucks managed to achieve hefty sales results. This was thanks to their affordable prices, smaller engines and youthful images. Soon, U.S. manufacturers introduced their own interesting versions of compact pickups with bright colors, cool details and crazy wheels.
But, among all those trucks, the Jeep Gladiator Honcho was the coolest. They based this special model on a regular Gladiator truck. However, Jeep added some modern graphics on the side and the “Honcho” name to it. They also added numerous interior details, special wheels, off-road tires and a winch.
There were a couple of engine options available under the hood. But if the Honcho came with the optional 401 AMC V8, it was a seriously powerful machine for the day. Jeep started an aggressive advertising campaign, but despite all their efforts, they only made 1,500 Honchos in seven years of production.
Since then, the Gladiator Honcho has become a highly-prized collector truck, but its prices are on the rise. You could find an unrestored one, but since there are so many unique trim pieces and details, restoring it could be a hard, expensive job.
12. Lincoln Blackwood
You may be surprised to learn that the Lincoln car company made pickup trucks, but for only one year. It was in the form of the Blackwood model. Back in the early 2000’s, Lincoln had the popular, successful Navigator. It was the golden standard of luxury SUVs back then.
Wanting to capitalize on that success, somebody at Lincoln suggested they build a pickup version to expand the range. The idea seemed plausible and soon, they were testing the first prototypes. Lincoln used the Ford F-150 platform with the front end and cabin of the Navigator, but with a custom truck bed. It came with a tailgate that opened like doors and had a power cover. The finished product looked like a Navigator truck, yet it was luxurious.
However, the Blackwood failed as a truck, since the truck bed was small and unusable. But the biggest problem was the price. The brand new 2002 Lincoln Blackwood started at a whopping $52,000. This was an extremely high price for an unusable truck with the Navigator fascia.
As you would expect, the market was not amused and during its 15 months in production, Lincoln only made 3,356 of them. Today, fans consider it a collector’s vehicle, so perfectly preserved Blackwood trucks command high prices.
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.