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Retro Review: Chevrolet 454 SS Pickup Review

Chevrolet’s 454 SS will always live as one of the first performance-based pickup trucks to ever hit the market. While it would later be shown up by Ford’s Lightning F150 and Dodge’s V-10 Ram, the 454 SS was a trendsetter, and this review shows just how high the bar was set all the way back in 1990.

With recent offerings following a more economical trend due to tighter restrictions on fuel economy by the government and higher fuel prices, Chevrolet bucked the system when it revealed the 454 SS package for the C1500. Instead of a standalone model, the iconic 454 big block Chevy engine and associated accessories and upgrades were part of a special order package. RPO code B4U got the admittedly gas-guzzling powerplant, the only-available-in-red interior, upgraded suspension components, special graphics and a few subtle but effective changes to the front end.

On the drag strip, the truck hustled to sixty miles per hour in 7.7 seconds en route to a 15.9 second quarter mile time at 87 MPH. This was the quickest 0-60 time ever by a truck in MotorWeek’s testing. The truck also stopped well, slowing from 60 MPH in 127 feet, numbers on par with a typical sedan and very good for a pickup. The truck was also nimble for its size, carrying good speed while whipping confidently through the slalom.

Inside, the truck wasn’t quite as groundbreaking, although it was certainly not lacking. The typical standards for the day were included, and the bucket seats added a little extra support for those hard cornering exercises to help keep the driver in place. At $18,000 the Chevy 454 SS was a pretty solid value, although the 10-11 MPG wasn’t exactly awe-inspiring. Overall, the truck was well liked by the reviewer, with the only downsides being the fuel efficiency and a couple of squabbles with the interior.

I know I would have been all over this if I was in the market for a new truck back in 1990!