Silverado Speedway
By: Mike Magda Posted: 11-04-04 20:00
© 2004 PickupTruck.com

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Why doesn’t the Silverado SS look like this truck?

Chevrolet showed off a Silverado Speedway Edition at the 2004 SEMA Show that draws inspiration from a variety of sources, including the Silverado SS, but takes the performance theme to a level that could compete head-to-head with Ford Lightning and the Dodge Ram SRT-10, at least on an appearance level.

First off, the truck is a regular cab. This is the classic truck approach and the way hot trucks are supposed to look. GM, please take note: Performance packages almost always look their best in regular cab configurations. The lines are tight, compact, lean, athletic and most of all, familiar. It makes perfect sense to offer nice upgrades in extended cabs and crew cabs, but don’t put the iconic and highly revered SS badge on the side if the truck doesn’t run fast enough to deserve it. Build up the lighter-weight regular cab with the ultimate performance package so the SS brand will be served proudly.

If you look close, you’ll see hints of the Silverado SS front nose and side cladding. But designers, led by Kip Wasenko and Dave Ross, added more cues from a race truck to the front end, and the results are spectacular. This truck certainly has enough street presence to be a viable offering in the showroom. Check out the rear spoiler and NASCAR-style wheels that enhance the overall look. A production unit wouldn’t have the turnbuckle adjustments, but the spoiler could still be integrated with the tonneau. The graphics are subtle but effective in making a statement that this truck has something special under the hood.

This truck featured the 6.0-liter LQ9 engine, which is rated at 345 horsepower; in other words, same setup as the Silverado SS. Upgrades include low-restriction air box and cat-back exhaust system. A 9.5-inch rear end is included to handle the power. Other mechanicals include a lowered suspension, cross-drilled brake rotors and a 4-point roll cage wrapped around racing seats.

Obviously some of the tricks on this concept vehicle wouldn’t make into production, but the attitude is there. This truck looks like it deserves the SS badge. It’s not a gussied up tow vehicle. It’s meant to challenge the best for bragging rights to the street performance crown. This is an issue of tire smoke and engine roar, not creature comforts. It’s a matter of paying proper respect to a great badge that truly earned its reputation with engineering, not marketing.

But who’s listening to us? We cornered GM’s product boss, Bob Lutz, after GM made its SEMA presentation, and he offered no hope that the Silverado SS will challenge the best pickups from Dodge and Ford.

“The problem with you guys in the press is that you never take affordability in consideration,” scolded Lutz. “Both the Lightning and Viper-engined Dodge are so expensive that they go to a very restricted number of people. We can price the Silverado SS where we get a lot of customers.”

That’s great, Bob. The SS, as it stands, is a nice package. So give it a nice, sweet moniker like Cameo but build an expensive truck that hauls ass and put the SS badge on it.

“As much as a performance man as I am, I just don’t think that extreme-type performance pickups really move the needle with the pickup buyer,” added Lutz. “I think the pickup buyer wants a lot of standard torque and horsepower and a great handling vehicle at an affordable price.”

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