Top 8 Forgotten Performance Pickups That Ruled the ’90s

Top 8 Forgotten Performance Pickups That Ruled the ’90s

Decades before high-performance pickup trucks like the 700-hp Ford F-150 Raptor R and 702-hp Ram 1500 TRX hit the market, pickup trucks were viewed as purely utility and work vehicles. In the mid-1960s, Dodge introduced a High Performance Package (HPP) for the D-100, which featured power steering, heavy-duty springs, a three-speed automatic gearbox, and a 365-horsepower engine.

Despite the car’s performance, it was a sales failure. The package costs 67 percent of the vehicle’s base price, and Chrysler has asked customers to pay the full price to order the truck. Moreover, the production process was long and arduous. Dodge built 50 trucks in three years. The HPP D-100 represents a false dawn for high-performance pickup trucks.

In the late 1970s, Dodge tried again, but this time in a spectacular way Lille’s red fast truck.Finished in Canyon Red, oak panels, chrome bumpers, gold stripes, and featuring two chrome exhaust kits standing majestically behind the cab, Lil’ Red was – and still is – a joy to behold. Under the hood is a 225-horsepower V-8. In 1978, the Dodge was faster than the Corvette: it completed the 60 mph dash in 6.7 seconds and covered the quarter mile in about 15 seconds.

In contrast to the HPP D-100, the Express truck was a huge sales success for Dodge: the automaker sold more than 7,000 units in two years. However, performance trucks didn’t really take off until the 1990s.

In order to provide you with the most current and accurate information possible, the data used to compile this article about 1990s performance trucks was obtained from trusted sources, including MotorTrend, Car and Driver, and Autodata.net. The models on this list are ranked based on their 0-60 mph times, from slowest to fastest.

RELATED: The Big Daddy of All American Performance Trucks


8 1991 Dodge Ram 250 LE Cummins Turbo Diesel

0-60 mph: 11.2 seconds

1991 Dodge Ram 250 LE Cummins Turbo Diesel
Bring a trailer

The decline of Dodge pickup trucks began after Chrysler’s full-block V-8s ceased production in the late 1970s. It didn’t help that the offerings from the manufacturer had an outdated interior, exterior and body design. Dodge considered using major global engines and General Motors as catalysts to revive its trucks. However, the automaker has entered into a partnership with Cummins.

to set

engine

Turbocharged 5.9-liter inline-six

Horse power

160 hp

Torque

400 ft. lbs

moving in

Five-speed manual

Drive group

SUV

0-60 mph

11.2 seconds

maximum speed

(Source: Motorwick)

Chrysler’s top brass slapped Cummins Turbo Diesel badges on the first trucks to feature turbocharged diesel engines. The company’s expectations regarding truck sales numbers were far from the truth. Cummins Turbo Diesels were so popular that the automaker had to stop taking orders. The 100,000th truck rolled off the production line in December 1991. 160 hp and 400 lb-ft might seem weak by today’s standards. However, in the early to late 1980s and early 1990s, the numbers were high.

7 1999 Chevrolet S-10 LS Extreme

0-60 mph: 7.9 seconds

1999 Chevrolet S-10 LS Extreme
Bring a trailer

“Xtreme” was a handling and aesthetics package that Chevrolet offered on any rear-wheel drive S-10. It added a lowered front air dam, matching rear bumper, lower side cladding, and fender flares. Buyers can opt for a retro-looking “Sportside” bed that features construction bumpers and a narrow bed. It came in black, red or white only and had chrome accents surrounding the headlights.

to set

engine

4.3L V-6

Horse power

180 hp

Torque

250 ft. lbs

moving in

Five-speed manual

Drive group

Rear wheel drive

0-60 mph

7.9 seconds

(Source: Auto Channel)

The Xtreme’s ZQ8 suspension lowered the car’s ride height by two inches and added stiffer springs, larger stabilizer bars, carbon shocks, and 16-inch wheels with low-profile performance tires. It turned the LS into a smart truck. The most powerful Xtreme S-10 features a 180-horsepower V-6.

RELATED: 10 of the Most Powerful Pickup Trucks of the 1970s

6 1999 GMC Sierra 2500 SL

0-60 mph: 7.7 seconds

1999 GMC Sierra 2500 SL
Mecom Auctions

As part of its plan to establish itself as a luxury truck manufacturer, GMC completely redesigned the Sierra for 1999. Besides the grille and GMC logo, almost everything else was new. The Sierra debuted with lighter, stiffer frames, a roomier cab, and larger, more powerful engines. The updated chassis reduced vibrations, performed better in crash tests, and was more resistant to corrosion.

to set

engine

6.0L V-8

Horse power

300 hp

Torque

355 ft. lbs

moving in

Four-speed automatic

Drive group

SUV

0-60 mph

7.7 seconds

(Source: General Motors)

GMC introduced three new engines based on the Corvette’s LS1 engine, including a 6.0-liter V-8 rated at 300 hp and 355 lb-ft. It is mated to a four-speed automatic gearbox or a five-speed manual gearbox and was only available on 2500 series trucks.

5 1991 Chevrolet 454 SS

0-60 mph: 7.2 seconds

Parked Chevy 454 SS
Bring a trailer

The Chevrolet 454 SS stood out from other offerings from Chevy. It featured giant stickers on both sides, a red logo on a black grille, an air dam with fog lights, and 15-inch chrome wheels. The 1990 and 1991 models came in Garnet Black only. Buyers and fans popped the hood to find a massive 7.4-liter V-8 staring back at them.

to set

engine

7.4L V-8

Horse power

255 horsepower

Torque

405 ft. lbs

moving in

Four-speed automatic

Drive group

Rear wheel drive

0-60 mph

7.2 seconds

(Source: Motor Trend)

In 1991, Chevy increased the power unit’s output to 255 hp and 405 lb-ft and offered a four-speed automatic transmission capable of handling the grunt. Despite being a full-size truck, the 454 SS was light. It also features tuned steering, a larger front sway bar, and Bilstein shocks.

RELATED: A Brief History of Chevy Pickup Trucks

4 1998 Dodge Dakota R/T

0-60 mph: 7.1 seconds

Blue 1998 Dodge Dakota R/T
Bring a trailer

Dodge demonstrated in 1978 that dropping a big engine into a pickup truck chassis resulted in a fast-performance truck. The automaker repeated the trick in the late 1990s, installing a 5.9-liter Magnum engine under the hood of the midsize Dakota. The result was a fast truck that could reach 60 mph from a standstill in a small area in seven seconds.

to set

engine

5.9L V-8

Horse power

250 horsepower

Torque

345 ft. lbs

moving in

Four-speed automatic

Drive group

Rear wheel drive

0-60 mph

7.1 seconds

(Source: Motor Trend)

Furthermore, Dodge lowered the R/T by two inches, installed a thicker rear roll bar and upgraded brakes, and gave it wider 17-inch tires. Suspension changes are intended to improve the R/T’s handling in corners. Visually, the Dakota features body-colored trim everywhere, a large R/T badge on its side, and unique fender flares.

3 1997 Dodge Ram 1500 SS/T

0-60 mph: 6.9 seconds

1997 Dodge Ram 1500 SS/T
Bring a trailer

The Ram SS/T has racing stripes, which makes the car look cool and fast. Well, the jury’s out on whether the racing stripes enhanced the SS/T’s appearance. However, no one denies that he was fast. Powered by a 5.9-liter V-8 and featuring an exhaust system that boosts power output, the big Ram reached 60 mph in 6.9 seconds. The SS/T’s exterior features chrome exhaust tips, 17-inch performance tires and a body-color grille.

to set

engine

5.9L V-8

Horse power

245 hp

Torque

335 ft. lbs

moving in

Four-speed automatic

Drive group

Rear wheel drive

0-60 mph

6.9 seconds

(Source: still working)

It came standard with rear-wheel ABS (four-wheel ABS was a $500 option) and disc brakes at all corners. Furthermore, the Dodge features slightly stiffer shock damping and springs, which has improved the car’s handling. The SS/T was offered exclusively with rear-wheel drive and was only available in 1997 and 1998.

RELATED: Before the F-150 Lightning went electric, it was the king of ‘muscle trucks’

2 1999 Ford F-150 SVT Lightning

0-60 mph: 5.2 seconds

Red 2001 SVT Lightning
Bring a trailer

“Lightning” was the appropriate nickname for Ford’s performance pickup truck in 1999. It featured a 5.4-liter Triton engine that had been lightly tinkered with by Ford engineers and paired with an Eaton supercharger. Thus, it produced about 40 percent more horsepower and torque than the standard 5.4-liter engine. mill. With 360 hp and 440 lb-ft through a four-speed automatic transmission to the rear wheels, the Lightning flashes to 60 mph in 5.2 seconds.

to set

engine

Supercharged 5.4L V-8

Horse power

360 hp

Torque

440 ft. lbs

moving in

Four-speed automatic

Drive group

Rear wheel drive

0-60 mph

5.2 seconds

(Source: Motor Trend)

Beneath its minimalist exterior lies a unique suspension system featuring two anti-roll bars and specially tuned shock absorbers. Dual ceramic tailpipes, 18-inch wheels wearing sticky Goodyear tires, a body-color grille, and custom rocker panels were part of the Lightning’s exterior upgrades.

1 1991 GMC Syclone

0-60 mph: 4.3 seconds

A parked 1991 GMC Cyclone
Mecum Auctions

The 1991 GMC Syclone was so fast that it could beat the Chevrolet Corvette ZR-1 and Porsche 911 Turbo in the 60 mph dash. Its main weapon was a 4.3-liter turbocharged V6 that produced 280 hp and 350 lb-ft. The Syclone features a viscous coupling unit and a center differential that distributes most of the torque to the rear.

to set

engine

Turbo 4.3L V6

Horse power

280 hp

Torque

350 ft. lbs

moving in

Four-speed automatic

Drive group

SUV

0-60 mph

4.3 seconds

(Source: Autodata)

A torque converter helped reduce turbo lag as all four inflated tires propelled the GMC to 60 mph in 4.3 seconds. That’s fast by today’s standards, let alone the early 1990s. As tested by Car and Driver, the Syclone covered the quarter-mile in 14.1 seconds, 0.4 seconds faster than Ferrari 348ts. Its top speed of 126 mph was low compared to luxury cars of the era. However, when it comes to acceleration, the Syclone has taken on many supercars.

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *