The Ford F-150 Lightning may be the most widely-recognized high-performance truck in modern memory, but Dearborn was not the first to let a high-power pickup loose on the streets. That distinction belongs to General Motors and the 454 SS that hit the streets for the 1990 model year. It combined the biggest engine available at the time in GM trucks, the 230-hp 7.4-liter big-block V-8 mated to a three-speed automatic, and the heavy-duty rear axle from the heavier-duty models. The 1991 model year added 25 more hp, 20 more lb-ft of torque, and another ratio in the transmission. Chevrolet has teased us with high-performance truck concepts since the 454 SS ended production, but none has made it to the showroom. With the 2014 Silverado Cheyenne concept, Chevrolet has combined some off-the-shelf hardware to make a mouth-watering hot rod hauler.
The basic powertrain hardware involved is strictly off-the-shelf hardware in the form of the 420-hp, 460-lb-ft 6.2-liter EcoTec3 V-8 and six-speed automatic transmission, but some of the other pieces are less likely to make it to the showroom. The bumpers, tailgate and inner cargo box are made from carbon fiber, and the Cheyenne concept borrows the Camaro Z/28 carbon ceramic brakes. Also making some sacrifice of utility in exchange for performance, the trailer hitch, spare tire and interior center console are all jettisoned in the name of lighter weight. This brings the weight for the Cheyenne concept to a relatively feathery (for a full-size truck) 4300 lb. Chevrolet acknowledges the 6.2 and regular cab is not a currently-available configuration for the Silverado, but teases us with the line "It's only a concept now, but we are continually exploring new ways to give Silverado customers more." To that we say "What are you waiting for?"