Live Auctions

Potent Pickup: 1990 Chevrolet C1500 454 SS

For most of us, the day is going to come where we either decide to relinquish our Driver’s License, or some kind-hearted official will take it because they believe that we are no longer capable of driving in a safe manner. The latter fate befell the original elderly owner of this 1990 C1500 454 SS around 10-years-ago, so he chose to park it in a garage for nearly a decade. The current owner then purchased the vehicle and returned it to a roadworthy state, but has now decided to part with it. This is no trailer queen, but it still presents very well, and it wouldn’t take a lot of work to have it back at its best once again. The Pickup is located in Modesto, California, and has been listed for sale here on eBay. Bidding has been pretty spirited and now sits at $14,300. The reserve has been met, meaning that the new home is mere days away.

It’s a tried-and-true formula that almost every manufacturer has followed at some point in their history: Take a garden-variety offering from your range, add some cosmetic embellishments, raid the parts bin for some “go faster” bits, and you’re likely to have a winner on your hands. It’s the very formula that Chevrolet chose to follow with the 454 SS, and 13,748 people handed over the cash to park one of these in their driveway in 1990. In this case, the cosmetic changes included finishing the vehicle in Onyx Black, blacking-out all of the exterior trim, adding a front spoiler, bolting on some big wheels, and laying on some not-so-subtle graphics proclaiming to the world at large just what this is. The result is a Pickup with a real sense of menace to it, and even though this model is now 30-years-old, it still looks remarkably fresh and crisp. This particular Chevy is in fairly good condition for its age, with the panels being pretty straight, the Black paint holding a nice shine, while the wheels are free from obvious damage or oxidization. It isn’t perfect, because there are a few marks and chips in the paint. However, none of these marks are bad, and I think that some minor touch-up work could put them right. The worst affected area (unsurprisingly) is the inside of the bed, and this really would benefit from a repaint. Alternatively, it could be left as it is, and a bed-liner could be fitted to hide the scuffs and scrapes.

The owner provides no engine photos with the listing, but when the Pickup was taken out of service, the original owner did continue to properly maintain it. This is one classic that wasn’t left to go to seed, which meant that reviving it was a pretty easy task. Essentially, the front end was treated to a rebuild, new tires were fitted, and new catalytic converters were bolted on. The engine was given a compression test, and it’s absolutely spot-on. The result is a classic pickup that runs and drives nicely. Of course, with a 454ci V8 under the hood backed by a 3-speed automatic transmission, there is plenty of potential there. Admittedly, this is no fire-breathing muscle car, but with 230hp and 385 ft/lbs of torque at the driver’s disposal, it could still rip through the ¼ mile in 15.9 seconds. Once again, this isn’t muscle car territory, but for a vehicle that was designed to carry a fair load of bits and pieces, or that you could throw all of your gear in for a camping trip, that’s pretty impressive. One thing that I did note from this photo is that there does appear to be some oil clinging to the pan, which might indicate a leak of some description. It doesn’t look bad, but it probably would be worth investigating to see if this could be rectified.

If you weren’t a fan of Garnet Red upholstery, then you were plumb out of luck with the 454 SS. That is because this was the only trim color available in that year, but it does provide a great contrast to the evil black exterior. Having said that, the interior could not be considered to be an unpleasant place to while away the miles. After all, the sports bucket seats look extremely comfortable, while occupants can also reap the benefit of the floor console, air conditioning, power windows, cruise, a tilt wheel, and an AM/FM radio/cassette player with that most 1980s/1990s of features, the graphic equalizer. The interior condition of this Chevy looks very good, with no obvious problems or issues to report. The headliners in these pickups could be prone to sagging over time, but this one looks like it might be okay in that department.

If ever there was a classic vehicle that could be something of a surprise packet, then the 1990 Chevrolet C1500 454 SS could be just the vehicle on several fronts. Not only is it capable of providing surprising levels of performance on the road, but it backs this up with similar levels of performance in the marketplace. It was only a few years ago that you could pretty much take your pick of available offerings for around the $10,000 mark, and what you would have scored would have been a pretty clean and tidy pickup. Now, those same vehicles can easily command prices of $17,000, although pristine vehicles can top-out at $30,000 or more. This one isn’t pristine, but if someone does manage to secure it for less than $17,000, then there is every chance that they might have scored themselves a pretty reasonable sort of buy.


  1. Steve R

    These are great looking trucks. This one was lowered just the right amount as to where it sits just right, without losing its ability to carry things.

    This trucks biggest drawback is the lack of overdrive transmission.

    Steve R

    Like 3
    • Tyler

      Unfortunately, the only overdrive available at this time was the 200r4 or 700r4, neither of which would have lived long behind the 454. The 4l80e was introduced in 91 I believe, not that it was gonna help gas mileage much. But these trucks were t built with gas mileage in mind.

      A friend of mine had one of these, & no, they really weren’t that quick. But he pulled a good size bass boat behind his & it never knew it was back there. And stomping on it would light up the back tires with ease.

      The prices are starting to climb on these trucks. I think these are gonna be highly collectible in the next few years, maybe the future Grand National.

  2. Chuck

    I remember an engineer in Lancaster owned one. Dennis also has a 64 Daytona that he bought in 64. That SS truck was clean, while a daily driver, was well cared for.

  3. Joe Haska

    I hate the Garnet Red. I think many people who bought these thought they were going to be very collectabl and hold their value. I don’t think that happened ,but you are right I have seen the numbers you mentined. Actually this seems like one of the better buys , I have seen for one of these, mostly because it is not pristine and has been used.

  4. Superdessucke

    Seems like a lot to me for a 115k example. These were serious gas guzzlers due to the 3-speed auto and low (high number) rear gears. MPG was 9 city and 10 highway. And a Hyundai Elantra GT that can be had for just a few bucks over the current bid beats this one’s 15.9 quarter time by a full second.

    Like 4
    • triumph1954

      Darn! You don’t say. Have to get me one of those Hyundai Elantra GTs. Then I won’t have to look at BarnFinds anymore. What was Chevrolet thinking when they built these gas guzzlers. Just terrible.

      Like 5
      • Al_Bundy Member

        Yes, I was considering some unique older vehicles featured here on BF. Then was informed I Could get a newer car to save on gas, even faster for only a few dollars more ! Who knew ? We must make the staff here aware of this observation.

        Like 4
      • Superdessucke

        1 second in the 1/4 mile is about 10 car lengths, FYI. Assuming you don’t run out of gas during the run in this!

  5. Tooyoung4heyday Member

    True as that may be, would you rather be seen in the Elantra or the SS?!? I remember seeing an updated one on the Powertour a few years back in the Lingenfelter booth that was a 572SS. Don’t remember what trans they put behind it but you wanna talk gas mileage! Timeless truck even with the lowly 230hp rating.

    Like 4
    • Superdessucke

      9 MPG is a LOT of gasoline, even by muscle car standards. The fuel gauge would almost move down quicker than the speedo would move up on full throttle I bet! I don’t know why it had to be so piggish, especially since it was 1990.

      Like 3
  6. jerry z

    Too bad these 454’s in the SS’s were garbage! Better flowing heads, updated fuel injection, and OD trans would make this truck perfect IMO.

    Like 1
  7. Tyler

    If they weren’t so stupidly expensive, the 625hp LSX454 crate engine with a 6l90 transmission would be the perfect upgrade for one of these trucks.

  8. 8thNote 8thNote

    Great looking truck, but the 350 is a much better engine for these trucks. Better mpg and, honestly, just as fast (or just as slow. Whichever way you want to look at it). Plus you can get the OD trans.

    But the GMT-400 trucks have a great understated classic good look to them. A breath of fresh air compared to the dramatically overstyled monstosities of today. Not that I’m biased, but I do also have a very nice driver grade 94 C1500 for sale over on the BarnFinds classifieds page.

    Like 2
  9. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    SOLD for $15,000.

    Like 3
  10. J. Boyd

    A buddy bought one, after about 6 months he did away with the throttle body & TH400 with a carb & TCI overdrive automatic trans. The gas mileage went up to around 17 or 18 mpg.

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