Holley Rendered Rides: The Chevrolet LSX 454 SS


Holley Rendered Rides: The Chevrolet LSX 454 SS


At the beginning of the 1990s, two words ruled all: "sport truck". In nearly the blink of an eye, pickup trucks had made the jump from a utilitarian workhorse suitable for heavy labor and little else to a fashionable machine with wild performance. While there had been early attempts at a sport truck offering, especially where the Dodge camp was concerned (Warlock, Lil' Red Express, and others), GM gets credit for really kicking things off in 1990 with the Chevrolet 454 SS. The recipe was simple: take the C1500 regular cab shortbed pickup truck, already a popular truck two years in after introduction. Out comes the standard small-block Chevrolet and instead, we go back to an engine that has one of the most impressive reputations from the musclecar era, the 454 cubic inch big-block V8. Add a larger front sway bar, a faster steering ratio, Bilstien shocks, and wide rubber at all four corners, paint it black, trim with red in certain areas, and make sure that nobody can mistake the "454 SS" callouts on the bed. 255 horsepower and 405 ft-lb of torque might not cause you to bat an eye today, but back then, that was stout. Remember, the Camaro Z28 was rocking 245 horsepower then. If you were careful with the throttle, you could hit sixty miles an hour in less than eight seconds. If you weren't, you would wind up repaving whatever section of asphalt you were on...these trucks are notorious burnout machines!

Rendered Rides 454ss V2 Front Quarter

With about 17,000 trucks built between 1990 and 1993, and untold millions of GMT400-era Chevrolets and GMCs built between 1988 and 1998, the options for building or cloning your own 454SS truck are wide-open. We asked Rotislav Prokop to take a crack at a wild version of what a 454 SS could be, a truck that could pack as much menace as possible. Starting with a two-wheel-drive C1500 regular cab shortbed, we immediately slam the truck to the ground...everybody else did back in the day, remember? Step two is to fill the wheelwells with as much rubber as possible over massive brakes...in our case, we used Rocket Racing "Strike" wheels. Step three is to make sure the whole truck, from the custom bumper and airdam up front to the very edge of the wing out back, is slathered in Onyx Black paint. After attending to details like interior upkeep and exterior lighting, we'd go straight to the heart of the matter: the LSX 454. While there is sure to be moaning over the loss of the big-block, there is no arguing that a compact and lighter engine cranking out 627 horsepower and 586 ft-lb of torque will do nicely, and that it will fit in the engine bay with no issue. And if that's not enough for you, well...it's an LS-based engine. Name your poison - turbocharger, supercharger, nitrous maybe?

Rendered Rides 454SS V2 Side Profile

And since we're changing things up, let's go for the transmission. Two were offered throughout the 454 SS's production run: the legendary TH400 three-speed automatic and the 4L80E overdrive automatic. Notice: not one manual transmission option. This is one application where a third pedal only makes things better, so we'd look to American Powertrain's conversion kit for the GMT400 truck and we'd probably opt in a TKX wide-ratio manual five-speed. Drag race, road race, autocross, or just to scare yourself the moment you bury your foot to the floor, you now have a solidly built truck for the occasion. The one thing that the 454 SS lacked was the same feeling that drivers got in a Chevelle SS454: the ability to bangshift their way through the gears!

Rendered Rides 454SS V2 Face

The best part of this build is that it is configurable to just about every form of GMT400 that was sold. You can swap a Blazer/Tahoe for a sport-utility version. You can shove the good bits into a crew-cab dually for a tow rig that has a severe attitude issue. And with the established aftermarket support of the GMT400, along with parts offered by manufacturers like Holley Classic Trucks, Baer Brakes and more, the sky and the builder's creativity is the limit for what can be done with an old Chevy truck!

Rendered Rides 454SS rear quarter low


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