Lowest They’ll Go: 1990 Chevy 454 SS

Jeff LaveryBy Jeff Lavery

The seller proclaims near the headline for this listing of a 1990 Chevy 454 SS pickup that the current price of $10,900 is as low as he’s willing to go. Now, at first, I thought this sounded like a pretty good deal, despite the average miles and just so-so cosmetics (at least in these pictures). However, the truck needs a replacement transmission and “brake work.” Is this still a potential deal? Low mileage bubble trucks have commanded some fair prices; this is not those trucks. Find it here on eBay located 100 miles south of Chicago. 

Intended to go head-to-head with the Ford Lightning of the same era, the SS always struck me as a little less special. I’m not sure if it’s the more restrained cosmetic tweaks (the Lightning had that gorgeous front air dam with integrated fog lights) or the fact that if you stripped off the graphics it’d look like any other 1500-series pickup, but my blood doesn’t get pumping right away. In addition to the dead transmission, I’m also bummed to see what looks like an aftermarket exhaust hanging out beneath the rear bumper.

The interior was also standard-issue pickup fodder back in the day, with red upholstery and carpeting everywhere you looked. Case-in-point, my brother’s non-SS pickup had the same color and layout, with the exception of a bench seat versus buckets. In one sense, however, maybe this is why trucks like the SS and Lightning got built in the first place: the manufacturers didn’t worry about distinguishing them aside from jacking up the horsepower. This likely kept the bean counters happy and made trucks like these even possible in an era when no one was particularly clamoring for a muscle truck.

While the seller claims the SS has excellent cosmetics, it’s hard to discern with the limited photos provided. The need for a new transmission shouldn’t be seen as a deal-breaker, but the listing should really work a bit harder to highlight what’s good about the truck. For $10,900, you could likely spend a few more bucks and get an SS with similar mileage that currently runs and drives as it should. I hopped on craigslist and there’s a high-mileage runner in nice shape for $9,500 in Southern California and a modified example with a rebuilt engine for $9K, also in California. If the seller dropped the price, would you take a chance on this broken SS?

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Comments

  1. Uncle Bob

    When the first word in the description is “rare” that pretty much tells you it’s over priced…………seems too often to be true, sigh……

    10
    • Craig

      Another seller suffering from Barrett Jackson syndrome!

      15
  2. flmikey

    I remember reading an article in some car magazine years ago when they did a head to head comparison with the 454 and the Lightning…the Lightning won hands down…which may be the reason Lightning’s are running double what this 454’s asking price is…that being said, you just can’t beat having a 454 just once in your life…

    1
    • Scott

      454 SS 1990 – 1993
      Lightning 1993 – 1995

      so “head to head” was 1993 only

      9
  3. Miguel

    Has anybody ever wanted one of these after the test drive?

    Why have a gas sucking engine, if there is no power to back it up?

    13
  4. Classic Steel

    Transmission out means driven hard and put away dusty…

    No thanks it’s too plane Jane for me 👀

    Now the past lil red trucks with stacks, wood and logos look more inviting.

    Chevrolet could of made it a step bed with a wooden bed and cool bed cover with the bow tie stitched in to add flavor with leather seats and special consoles to boot.
    Maybe a fiber hood not to outlandish with a ramair setup.
    This is why I love 60s to early seventies as they made some nice cars….

    4
  5. nrg8

    Looks like it could be a nice example with a little sweat equity. If it was maintained to higher standard while miles racked up, then yeah 10k. As is 7k tops. But nice to see it was for the most part enjoyed.

    1
  6. Gregory Wilkins

    My father bought one of these brand new in 1990. 454 with a turbo 400 transmission (overdrive showed up in 1991). She was a gas guzzler without a lot of power, which really disappointed him after having big blocks in the 60’s and 70’s. Nice looking trucks in my opinion but I’d look for cheaper and one with 700r4? for the small bump in mileage and aftermarket tweaks to bring that rat alive.

    3
    • mark

      Just over 200 HP if I remember right. “All hat and no cattle”.

      6
  7. Matt steele

    Too high ,not that sporty really..bigger displacement than power.buy a short bed square body 4×4 put a built 454 in it for real fun.

  8. johnfromct

    The F150 SVT Lightning was more than just the SVT Cobra engine. It was also a handling package. It was Ford’s first true performance truck. Ask anyone who has driven one.

    This truck is nothing special except for the asking price.

    6
  9. Dean

    SS454 was an anemic engine.

    3
  10. mark

    Non original wheels, transmission is shot, owner did not even bother to clean the interior and when these were new they had just over 200 HP. His price is at least double what it should be in this condition.

    2
    • Bradley Howe

      These were in fact stock 454ss wheels.

      1
  11. poseur

    these weren’t horrible trucks at all for the day. they had a nice swagger to them.
    the early models had 230hp and the later 255hp with an extra gear in the tranny allowing a much better launch.
    sure, the Lightning actually handled but it wasn’t much if any quicker and lacked the grunt of the 454.
    there are a couple of these cruising around town with rusted out cab corners and sagging frame in the usual spots for C/K’s.
    this one may be priced fairly if the body is rust free (which i doubt given the location square in the middle of the rust belt).
    FWIW, those look like the original wheels to me, chrome 15×7 5-lugs.
    i’d take a Syclone instead personally.

    3
  12. Howard A Member

    I think these were some of the 1st trucks women actually started buying. They were comfy, dependable, and women could brag to the men, they had a pickup with a 454!!! Eat my dust,,,they’d say.

  13. Wrong Way

    Obviously a worn out old truck! No wonder he has a Chicago attitude to go with it! Won’t budge on the price? He would have to drop the price considerably before anyone with brains would buy it!

    1
  14. PRA4SNW Member
  15. Comet

    I read a Craigs Listing the other day. It said you better buy it now, because tomorrow the price goes up! Wow..some folks.

    1

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