Ah, 1993…when slammed GM trucks, paint jobs with many layers, and billet damn near everything was in style…and I was halfway through fourth grade. You couldn’t escape the sport truck scene, it was everywhere. Chevy and GMC C/K pickup trucks of all types were being tarted up to be more than just the standard ride of the good ol’ farmboy. Have we made much progress since those days? Not if the legions of Z71-equipped trucks that have been straight-piped and tweaked into the horrid Carolina Squat stance have anything to say about it. We’ll take tons of billet and tweed over that crap any day.
The fun part of this time was that GM themselves were trying to take advantage of the situation. They offered up appearance packages for both brands, with “Sport” models for Chevrolet and “GT” models for the GMC trucks. Chevy even went a step further with the 454SS, which should have been a complete shoe-in to delinquency. RPO B4U stuffed the 7.4L V8 under the hood of a two-wheel-drive, regular cab shortbed Chevy, added a bigger front sway bar, a faster steering box, Bilstein shocks and 275-series 15″ tires. For 1990, buyers had to make do with the TH400 three-speed automatic; for 1991-93, the 4L80E hit took over and gave the truck overdrive. You would think it’d be a home run, right? Well…kind of. It looked properly menacing, had the noise going, and yeah, you were swinging a solid 454 cubic inches that had some stout torque numbers, but a Syclone/Typhoon would walk this puppy like it was on a leash and if you knew your way around a small-block Chevy, you could make a regular 350 do the same.
But the other cool part of the early 1990s was that the performance aftermarket was always being tweaked with. GM themselves had some bitchin’ concept trucks about this time that were packing serious grunt, but if you wanted something that had at least 500 horsepower in your hands around this time, you were better suited to going aftermarket. Enter Gale Banks and the Banks “SS 502” project Chevrolet. Per Gale Banks himself, the truck was a legit four-digit horsepower thrill ride when that was the kind of news you dropped to shut everybody around you up. Unlike most people who would quip off about a thousand horsepower, though, Banks was someone to take deadly serious…few others around this time had the knowledge and brass ones to put that kind of power on the street.
What came out of the SS 502? Not much, far as we can tell. From this Motorweek retrospective, either Banks was trying to make sure that the reporter didn’t soil the bench seat or he was taking things very easy…the burnout is more of what you’d expect from a 5.7L truck than a 1,200+ horsepower wild child. But it was tantalizing visions like this that gave hot rodders hope and sport truck types something to aspire to.