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When Driving is about Lifestyle, Car Life Nation is the Answer

When Driving is about Lifestyle, Car Life Nation is the Answer

A popular used truck for sale, a red 2021 Ram 1500 TRX, is shown off-roading on a dusty trail.

The Fast Trucks of Yesteryear: Hauling More Than Trailers

We are currently going through a phase where trucks are big, brawny, rugged vehicles. Maximum towing capacity and off-road readiness are at the forefront of many drivers’ minds, whether they’re shopping for new or used trucks. Therefore, it’s possible that the title threw you off a bit. After all, pickup trucks aren’t supposed to be quick; they’re supposed to get the job done and be fun, right? Well, there are several organizations that would like to explain that truck racing is a fantastic sport. Furthermore, the combination of horsepower and torque on a truck can lead to some pretty quick numbers. As you rummage through the used trucks for sale, keep in mind that you can ask for speed.

You might be wondering, “How quick is quick?” These trucks we’re talking about are on the heavier side by nature. There’s also the influence of technology to consider. The GMC Hummer EV, for example, can make the trip from 0 to 60 mph in just 3 seconds, but it’s also harnessing 1,000 hp of electrically-generated zip in order to do so. It can also crabwalk diagonally, so it’s clearly not fair to compare all trucks of all time. Therefore, let’s take a look at old-school gas and diesel-powered trucks that bring the speed and that you might find for sale someday on the used market.

The 1991 GMC Syclone

Ok, so this is kind of cheating. You’re probably not going to find a Syclone at your local GMC dealer. However, this one is somewhat of a legend, so it’s hard to talk about quick trucks without giving it its due. The 1991 Syclone was a collaboration between the GMC Sonoma and Production Automotive Services. Equipped with a 4.3L turbocharged V6 engine, this truck purred along nicely to the tune of 280 hp, with a top speed of 126 mph.

But that was just part of its recipe for ultimate speed. The Syclone was engineered with a wide base, an all-wheel drive, and a rear limited-slip differential. The result was a well-balanced vehicle with traction in all the right places to accelerate with determination and grace. The 1991 GMC Syclone is legendary thanks to its 5.3 second 0 to 60 time, which was enough to beat a Ferrari in a now-famous Car and Driver track test. With around 3000 models produced, you might have to work hard to find a used Syclone of your very own, but it’s not necessarily impossible. Just expect to pay collector prices.

The 2004 Dodge Ram SRT-10

Moving along to trucks from more recent years, this one dates back to when Ram was a Dodge brand and not a Stellantis stablemate. SRT stands for Street & Racing Technology, so this truck was specifically engineered for performance from the very first thought to the very last lugnut. Powered by the same 8.3L V10 engine that powered the Viper, this truck possessed a mighty 500 hp. Drivers could also enjoy tuning up with the same 6-speed manual transmission used by the Viper, giving the SRT-10 a true sportscar feel, despite being a very capable pickup truck.

In contemporary reviews, very little mention is made of the interior of the Dodge Ram SRT-10. That’s likely because the cab was never the focus of this truck. On top of that, 2004 was pre-Bluetooth. Heck, you can probably find an aftermarket stereo system with a CD player/changer combo, given the era. To that point, the SRT-10 earned its reputation as a quick truck with a 4.9 second 0 to 60 mph time, and things took off from there. It’s not uncommon to find highly customized versions of this truck for sale. Just make sure any used SRT-10 you pick up still has the tail spoiler. That’s the coolest part.

The 2008 Toyota Tundra TRD Supercharged

The 2008 Toyota Tundra TRD doesn’t necessarily look like a Toyota Tundra, especially by today’s standards. With its rounded roof and streamlined body, it almost looks suspiciously plain. However, these design choices are made all in the name of aerodynamics. As a TRD (Toyota Racing Development) branded project, the TRD lives up to performance expectations. It jets from 0 to 60 mph in just 4.4 seconds, which was faster than sports cars in its day. The source of all this energy is a 5.7L V8 engine that provides a steamy 504 hp and 550 lb-ft of torque.

Options and features included power windows and door locks, which weren’t as common back then, along with cruise control, remote keyless entry, and a whole lot of chrome. Drivers could also upgrade the shocks and the TRD Big Brake Kit to gain better control of this speedy beast. For those who can’t get their hands on a TRD Supercharged version, the 5.7L engine was offered as an option in the regular Tundra lineup. Just don’t expect that blazing-hot acceleration in that version.

The 2021 Ram 1500 TRX

Technically another Ram, but so very apart in style, design, engineering, and even speed. The 2021 TRX was highly anticipated following the successful debut of the TRX label in 2020. One does not expect speed from a large and in-charge truck like the Ram 1500, but this half-ton truck is equipped with the Hellcat engine. Yes, The Hellcat engine. A 6.2L supercharged HEMI V8 supplies a whopping 702 hp to the TRX, along with 650 lb-ft of torque, accompanied by standard all-wheel drive and an 8-speed automatic transmission.

Introduced as a direct competitor of the Ford F-150 Raptor, the TRX has more than acceptable off-roading chops. A stronger frame, eight additional inches of width, adaptive Bilstein remote-reservoir dampers, and off-road pages to help the driver gauge performance are just some features built into the TRX. For all of its massive size, this truck is nimble like a cat, climbing through sand, wallowing in mud, and making short work of accelerating from 0 to 60 mph in just 3.7 seconds. As an added bonus, the TRX is adorned with all of the modern conveniences, such as a touchscreen infotainment system, hands-free smartphone connectivity, and a modern audio system. No tape deck to be found here!

Consider the Pros and Cons Before Hunting the Used Market

If “quick” is important to you, you might want to take a little time and find a good, quality used performance truck rather than rushing into things, however counter-intuitive that might sound. While not all of these trucks have been driven into the ground with frequent and continuous track-level speeds, many of them have. This means being extra careful when looking at pre-owned options. This could be a great project for a gearhead or a nightmare you’d rather skip, depending on your outlook.

Still, trucks are getting faster and faster with each generation. Electric trucks are paving the way for incredibly quick acceleration, though this type of action does tend to deplete the battery more quickly. You might want to weigh the pros and cons of converting to electric truck racing before you fully commit, but there’s no reason why pickup trucks can’t have a little speed. They’ve been doing it for years, after all!

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