10 rare and rowdy special edition trucks


(Photo: Mike DeMille | Flickr)1990–1993 Chevy 454 SS

Special edition trucks in the 1990s didn't quite have the visual pop of their '70s and 80s predecessors. Still, the "454 SS" graphics on this truck's bedsides left little to the imagination as to what was under the hood.

The 454 SS was a performance model of the Chevy 1500 launched in 1990. Instead of the ubiquitous 350-cubic-inch small-block V-8 that came in most 1500-series models, Chevy dropped in the 230-hp 454-cid V-8 from its heavy-duty trucks, which pumped 385 lb-ft of torque. It was paired to a three-speed automatic and at first came only in black. The 454 SS sat lower in the rear and wore stiffer front springs to handle the weight of that enormous engine.

A small truck with a huge engine should be a dragstrip terror. But even in 1993, when this motor was massaged to 255 hp and 405 lb-ft, it was good only for mid-15-second quarter-mile times. At the time that wasn't exactly slow, but it couldn't match the Camaro Z/28 or Ford Mustang GT. Chevy introduced a Sport model of the 1500 that sold alongside the 454 SS and looked identical to its more powerful sibling, except for the "454 SS" stickers. Perhaps that's why this cool model lasted only four years.


1990 Dodge Rod Hall Signature Edition

Baja race trucks in the 1980s and early 1990s enjoyed a staunch fan base and inspired the look of street trucks. In 1987, to capitalize on the prerunner craze, legendary racer Rod Hall developed a custom truck backed by Dodge. The 1987 trucks emulated his race prerunners by having a taller and firmer suspension. The trouble was, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) didn't care much for this suspension. Dodge made only 14 Rod Hall Signature Editions and NHTSA recalled every one. Few ever returned to owners' hands, and even fewer still are around today.

However, in 1990 Hall teamed up with Carroll Shelby, who had a relationship with Chrysler at the time, to build a new batch of Signature Series trucks. They made a total of 33, and each one wears cool prerunner bumpers front and rear, a bed-mounted light bar, and Rod Hall driving lights.

All of these trucks came with Dodge's least powerful eight-cylinder engine, the 318-cid V-8 with a measly 170 hp. So they weren't nearly as quick as they looked. Nonetheless, the Rod Hall Signature models were some of the most interesting, rare, and unique trucks Dodge ever offered.


1993–1995 Ford F-150 SVT Lightning

After the early '90s sport-truck performance onslaught by General Motors with the GMC Syclone and 454 SS, it was time for Ford to provide a little competition. But instead of stuffing its biggest V-8 into the Lightning, Ford decided to modify the lighter 5.8-liter V-8 with GT-40 aluminum cylinder heads, plus a unique camshaft, intake manifold, and throttle-body fuel-injection system. The resulting 240 hp and 340 lb-ft of torque was enough to match the 454 SS in a straight line. Ford's in-house performance tuners, SVT, then reworked the Lightning's suspension to provide much more grip and speed in the corners than the heavy Chevy.

The Lightning was a true performance vehicle with upgrades to every aspect of its character. Its capability and speed are that much more impressive when you realize the basic truck platform was already 13 years old when the Lightning debuted. It was so successful that Ford built a second-generation supercharged Lightning from 1999 to 2004. These trucks paved the way for the incredible Raptor of today.


1977-1981 Dodge Macho Power Wagon

The Power Wagon nameplate is one of the longest-running in Dodge history, stretching from the original military Power Wagons of the 1940s to today's Power Wagon, a heavy-duty off-road version of the Ram. In the 1970s Dodge launched a Macho version of the Power Wagon that delivered some visual heat for the 1970s 4X4 fan.

Dodge had some of the craziest pickups on the market, from the gold-trimmed Warlock and Warlock II ('76–'79) to the L'il Red Express Truck ('78–'79), which used tall vertical exhaust stacks combined with the wood-lined bed of the Warlock. The Macho was in production longer than any of them, and came in either short- or long-bed models with a roll bar mounted to the bed, and special flat black and yellow paint accents that included "Power Wagon" in giant letters on the bedside and color matched wagon-type wheels. Although these machines were available with any of Dodge's small block V-8s, the most desirable Machos packed the top dog 440-cid big block V-8 housed in the sportiest short-bed body style.

Machos saw their popularity soar thanks to a long-bed model that played a starring role on the small screen on the 1981 to 1995 hit TV series "Simon and Simon."


2002 Lincoln Blackwood

Put an F-150 into a Lincoln Navigator's bodywork and you had the Blackwood, a one-year-only pickup from Ford's luxury brand. The idea was a truck as luxurious as it sounds, and the Blackwood's engineers went to great lengths to make this vehicle essentially unusable as a pickup. Its bed was designed more for looking pretty than anything else, with plush carpeting, stainless-steel bedsides, LED lighting, Dutch-style doors replacing a traditional tailgate, and even a power cover.

Unsurprisingly, you paid for that luxury. The Blackwood was only available in 2WD and sold for more than $50,000. The truck failed to attract buyers in any number in its day, but today it's a quirky and rare collector's item.

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