Back in 1990, engines were still measured in cubic inches, and single-digit fuel economy didn’t matter. It was a glorious time; to celebrate, Chevrolet unleashed a big-block sport version of its wildly popular Silverado pickup truck. This black beast had sinister looks, a wild exhaust note, and an ozone-chomping 454 cu-in V8 under the hood. America’s Heartbeat had skipped a few beats…
The Chevrolet Silverado 454 SS was centered around the legendary 7.4L big block engine. This lump of pig iron had been used to power such icons as the Chevy Chevelle Super Sport and Corvette Stingray. It wasn’t particularly sophisticated, but it could create sensational amounts of torque while consuming equally sensational amounts of fuel. When Chevy engineers plopped it into the Silverado, the 454 had been tuned to produce 230hp and 385 lb-ft. And while that doesn’t sound very impressive by today’s standards, the 454 SS’s sub-8 second 0-60 time was “far out”.
To keep this black brick on the ground, Chevrolet gave the Silverado 454 SS a bigger front sway bar, Bilstein shocks, quick-ratio steering, and meaty 275/60R15 tires fitted to special wide rims. A 3-speed automatic (TH400) and 3.73 rear gears put power to the ground in the 1990 Chevrolet Silverado 454 SS. But the 1991 model got a more advanced 4-speed automatic, lower 4.10 gears, and power jumped to a heady 255hp/405 lb-ft.
Produced from 1990–1993, the Chevrolet Silverado 454 SS was available only in black until 1992, when Summit White and Victory Red were added to the options list. Most of them came fully loaded with goodies like sport bucket seats, a center console, air conditioning, and power windows. A total of 16,953 copies were built, which was pretty impressive at a time when spending a lot of money for a pickup wasn’t as socially acceptable as it is today (it originally stickered for $18k, which is roughly $30k in today’s money). We did a little research and found a few online anywhere from $17,000-$35,000 depending on miles and condition.
The Chevrolet Silverado 454 SS is pretty pathetic by modern-day standards, but back in the 1990s, it was pretty impressive. It was powerful, stopped well, handled well, and looked pretty sinister. Today’s trucks would run circles around it, but you have to wonder how sweet a modern-day Silverado SS powered by a 650 LS motor would be…But carmakers are not willing to take a chance or have the guts to build such a beast.
Related: Chevrolet Trailblazer SS