Hooniverse Weekend Edition – Early Segment Busting Pickup Trucks. Which ones should be brought back?

Welcome to the Hooniverse Segment Busting Truck Weekend, in which I try and convince you to mourn for all those attempts at Segment Busting within the Pickup Truck Market during the years between 2000 and 2012, without much success I might add. Well, it’s time to turn back the Way-Back machine to see what “Segment Busting” Pickup Trucks you like, and which ones should be brought back.

I am going to start this Sunday posting with the Chevrolet 454 SS Pickup, which was really nothing more than a two wheel drive, standard cab, six foot bed model with a giant engine stuffed under the hood. The recipe was so simple that almost anyone could have produced such a beast. This truck variant was introduced for the 1990 model year, and it was only available in Onyx Black with a Garnet Red interior. The 454CID V-8 produced 230HP, with an astonishing 385 lb/ft of Torque. The only transmission available was the three speed Turbohydramatic 400 transmission. The interior came equipped with highback bucket seats and center console. These trucks had a sticker price of $18,295 with a $550 destination charge, and 13,748 units were sold for the year.

For the 1991 model year, the transmission was replaced with the four speed electronic 4L80E transmission, along with a power increase of 25 more horsepower (to 255), and a stump pulling 405 lb/ft or torque. The other changes for 1991 included a 4.10 rear axle, and a standard dash mounted tachometer that was absent in the 1990 model year. During the 1992 and 1993 model years, changes were confined to color choices, with Summit White, and Victory Red added to the exterior options, and there was a greater choice in interior colors as well. The 454SS was discontinued after the 1993 model year, with a total of 16,953 units sold during the 4 year period.

Not to be outdone by Chevrolet, Ford unveiled their F-150 Lightning developed by their Special Vehicles Team (SVT) division for the 1993 model year. This truck competed against the Chevrolet 454 SS, primarily as an effort to enhance the sporty personal-use image of the Ford F-Series pickup. The formula was the same as the Chevy; A basic standard cab with a 6-foot bed, powered by a 5.8L V-8 that produced 240HP and 340 lb/ft of torque. The transmission was a special Ford E40D four speed automatic, and it was only offered as a 2wd model. The Lightning shared its basic structure with the F-150, but many modifications were made to the suspension and the frame to improve the handling. You could get the truck in either Black or Red for the 1993 model year, with White added for 94 and 95. A total of 11,563 first generation Lightnings were produced during these three years.

However, Ford reintroduced the SVT Lightning for the 1999 model year with a whole new attitude. The basic formula was held true (Standard cab, six foot stylized bed, two wheel drive) but instead of a naturally aspirated big V-8, Ford stuffed a 5.4L Supercharged Triton V-8 under the hood that developed 360HP, and 440 lb/ft of torque. To handle all this power, Ford borrowed the 4R100 four speed automatic used in the Super Duty V-10 and Diesel lines. The inital batch of colors included Bright Red, Black and White. For the 2001 Model year, Lightnings received a power increase of 20HP (now 380), and a 10 lb/ft torque increase (Now 450). Other changes included new wheels, a different grill, and another color choice (Silver). Other colors were also introduced through the rest of the production cycle: True Blue for 2002, replaced by Sonic Blue in 2003, and Shadow Gray in 2003. 2004 was the last year for the SVT Lightning, with 28,124 second generation vehicles sold over the short run.

Going back to 1991, GMC brought out a Special Performance version of their smaller pickup, and called it the Syclone. This was the fastest pickup available at that time, and the formula deviated slightly from the other “performance” pickups outlined thus far. It was still a standard cab pickup, but it was much smaller. Instead of being RWD, it utilized a Borg Warner all wheel drive transfer case, that split torque with 35% forward and 65% to the rear wheels. The Syclone was the first production truck to receive a 4 wheel anti-lock braking system. But it was the engine that was special; GM took the standard 4.3L LB4 V6 engine used in many of their trucks and SUVs, and modified it with unique pistons, main caps, head gaskets, intake manifolds, fuel system, exhaust manifolds, and a 48mm twin bore throttle body from the 5.7 L GM Small-Block engine. Then they added a Mitsubishi TD06-17C turbocharger with a Garrett water/air intercooler, and the power output was recorded at 280 hp, with 350 lb/ft of torque.

The Syclones were produced for the 1991 model year only, available only in black. There were plans for a 1992 model, but was abruptly canceled in favor of the Typhoon SUV. 2,995 Syclones were produced in 1991, and an additional 3 for 1992. To compinsate for the loss of the Syclone, GMC introduced the Sonoma GT for the 1992 model year. It was basically a Syclone clone with none of the performance, and was only available as a 2wd truck. Under the hood was the standard 4.3L V-6 producing 195HP and 260 lb/ft of torque, with the 4L60 4-speed automatic performing all the shifting duties. At least the rear end was a limited slip. Only 806 of these were produced before production ended.

In 1989 the Shelby Dakota was introduced, and it was limited-production performance version of the Dodge Dakota Sport pickup truck. Offered by Shelby for 1989 only, it was his first rear wheel drive vehicle in many years. The Shelby Dakota started with a short-wheelbase, short-bed, standard-cab pickup. The 3.9 L V6 was removed in favor of the company’s 5.2 L V8 with throttle-body injection, which produced a modest 175HP at the time, but the torque increase was up to 270 ft/lb. These trucks sold new for around $16,000, and only 1,500 were produced. There is one available on eBay right now, so take a look at the listing here.

Probably the Baddest Pickup of them all was the Dodge Ram SRT-10, introduced in 2004. Staying true to the formula, the original SRT-10 was a standard cab, short bed, 2wd model stuffed with the biggest engine possible: An 8.3L modified Viper V10 that produced 510HP, and 525 lb/ft of torque. Unlike previous performance based pickups, the SRT-10 was equipped with a Tremec T-56 6-speed manual transmission. Top speed was said to be 153MPH. Inside was an upgraded interior, with a Hurst shift lever sprouting from a silver metal shift bezel and fitted with a Viper shift knob. Aluminum performance-inspired pedals replaced the stock setup. The gauge cluster featured satin silver-faced gauges and Viper font and graphics. The speedometer and tachometer were recalibrated to match the Ram SRT-10’s increased performance.

Because of the success of the regular cab version, there was a Quad Cab version of the SRT-10 introduced for the 2005 model year. While the power was the same as the regular cab version, the quad cab was saddled with the 48RE Automatic Transmission borrowed from the Ram Heavy Duty Models, and a special rear axle with a 4.56 final-drive gear ratio to improve low-end acceleration and was rated at 7,500-pound towing capacity. The SRT-10s had a limited number of color choices available including Brilliant Black Crystal Pearl Coat, Bright Silver Metallic Clear Coat, and Flame Red Clear Coat. in 2006 the colors were modified to include Mineral Gray Metallic, Inferno Red, and the aformentioned Black Crystal Pearl Coat. Only 9,527 SRT-10s were manufactured over the three year run, in both the regular cab and Quad Cab versions.

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