Bob Dylan might have said of the S-10 (and its GMC S-15 cousin) that the times, they aren't a-changing; they're just changing back. The first pickups ever made weren't the road-going behemoths of the 1940s through 1970s, they were versatile little runabouts built with the understanding that big truck beds were usually empty or lightly loaded. The S-10 and it's Ford competitor -- the Ranger -- stand today as some of the most beloved vehicles of their era.
Chevy's mini-truck's first generation spanned from 1982 to 1993, Specs varied depending on whether the truck was an extended cab (EC), regular cab short bed (SB) or regular cab long bed (LB). All trucks were 61.3 inches high and 64.7 inches wide. The EC had a 122.9-inch wheelbase and measured 192.8 inches long, the SB had a 108.3-inch wheelbase and 178.2-inch length, and the LB's axles sat 117.9 inches apart while the body measured 194.2 inches bumper-to-bumper. Curb weights came in at 3,024 (EC), 2,773 (LB) and 2,635 (SB) pounds.
Engine and Transmission
The 1990-generation S-10 came with either two- or four-wheel drive, and with a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission. Engines offered in 1990 included the 105-horsepower 2.5-liter "Iron Duke" four cylinder, a 125-horsepower 2.8-liter V-6 and the 160-horsepower 4.3-liter V-6. The 4.3-liter was and is affectionately known as the "3/4 small block," as it's essentially a 350 small-block with two cylinders lopped off. Four-cylinder and 2.8-liter engines came standard with a five-speed manual, while 4.3-liter trucks were automatic only. The 4.3-liter and automatic were standard equipment for 4WD trucks in 1991, but 1990 4WD models could have the 2.8-liter instead.
Equipped with two-wheel drive and manual transmission, a 1990-model-year S-10 with the 2.5-liter was rated at 21 mpg city and 25 mph highway, the 2.8-liter at 17 city and 24 highway and the 4.3-liter at 15 city and 22 highway. The 2.5-liter lost three city mpg with an automatic, and the 4.3-liter gained one city mpg with the slushbox. A 4WD system would cost you some cash at the pump, to the tune of about 1 mpg in the city and 2 to 3 mpg on the highway.
GM's yawn-inducing 2.8-liter V-6 was a bit more powerful than the four cylinder, but added enough weight that the truck ended up loafing through the quarter mile at about 18.5 to 19 seconds at about 65 mph. A five-speed four-cylinder's lighter weight makes it a bit swifter at between 17 and 17.5 seconds, but its lack of horsepower lets it down with a lower 61 mph trap speed. A stock 4.3-liter will motivate you to between 15.8 and 16.3 seconds at 67 mph. Basic mods on a 4.3-liter can put you into the mid-14s to low-15s, and nitrous can get you into the 13-second range, and really extreme modifications or a mild small-block V-8 engine swap can put you into the mid-12s.
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