Big-block swapped S-10 is modern muscle quick and ‘80s cool all in one

You’d be hard-pressed to find four words that encapsulate the 1980s custom car scene better than Pro Street mini truck. The custom mini truck scene was about style. Everything looks better when its lowered, and mini trucks took it to the extreme. They became popular in the late ‘80s, the same time car customizers were adopting the Pro Street style of wildly tubbed cars draped in graphics and powered by monster engines that were over-chromed yet ultimately underwhelming. Pro Street was often taken to its all show and no go extreme.

The 1987 S-10 that NHRA drag racer Paul Stage modified when it was fresh off the dealer lot could be accurately described as a Pro Street mini truck, although it’s a mild custom that actually did see dragstrip duty. The largest engine Chevrolet ever dropped into an S-10 was the 4.3-liter V-6, which was ¾ of a small-block 350. That engine was durable and adequate for the S-10, but it didn’t show up until 1988. Even then, it wouldn’t make the S-10 much of a drag strip contender.

Whether it was the Iron Duke or the anemic 2.8-liter V-6 that Stage pulled from the S-10, it doesn’t matter—both are completely forgettable. What does matter is that he stuffed a 454-cubic-inch big block under the hood with some long-tube headers and beefed up the rest of the drivetrain to handle the grunt of what’s sure to be 400+ horsepower mill. The mid-11-second elapsed times he coaxed from the pickup prove he knew what he was doing both building the pickup and when he was behind the wheel.

The truck is available at Mecum’s Indy auction and there’s no mention of the transmission, but we assume it’s a Turbo 400. That would be the natural choice for drag racing and matches nicely with the narrowed 12-bolt that’s nestled under the bed’s widened wheel tubs. Of course an ‘80s Pro Street build wouldn’t be complete without Centerline drag wheels, B&M shifter, and a set of VDO gauges.

The truck looks like it’s in excellent shape. Both the paint, with stylized graphics, and the interior are holding up quite well for a 30-year-old vehicle. It’s got the drag strip chops to hang with all but the meanest of late-model muscle cars and it would be welcomed with open arms at Radwood. What more could you want from an ‘80s mini truck?

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