The 2020 Hennessey Maximus 1000 boasts a 1,000 horsepower forced-induction 6.2-liter Hellcat V8 mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission.
By David Thome – Special to ADAMM– Automobile Dealers Association of Metro Milwaukee.
You probably wouldn’t be surprised to hear that you can get a pickup that has a powerful engine, but hearing that one has an engine that cranks out 1,000 hp might make you stop and think.
Yes, in 2020, you can get a pickup with that much muscle under the hood—if you feel the need for speed and have a similarly robust vehicle-buying budget to make it happen. Several manufacturers offer such vehicles, which are known by a couple of names.
“A truck with 770 hp,” says one southeastern Wisconsin sales rep, “I would call that a muscle truck.”
Others, including Ewald’s Venus Ford General Manager Eric Ewald and Kunes Country Ford Performance Sales Specialist Jordan DuPont, call them “performance” trucks.
“When it’s that much horsepower, you’re talking about the Shelbys,” Ewald says. “The buyer is definitely a performance enthusiast. They’re buying a bit of the lifestyle that that vehicle represents, and it’s probably not the only performance vehicle they own.”
Shelby American is a Las Vegas-based company that has been putting its performance stamp on select production cars, including the Ford Shelby GT500, Mustang and Raptor, since the 1960s.
DuPont, whose Elkhorn-based store has several jacked-up trucks, including 525-hp Shelby Baja F-150 Raptors that it ships nationwide, says people like them because they’re fun on the road and off, adding that “some customers take theirs racing.”
Still, he and Ewald say that while pickups don’t look like the coupes, sedans and convertibles that come to mind, their suitability for driving in bad weather makes them strong contenders as performance vehicles you can take out on the streets year-round. Autoguide.com editor Stephen Elmer says the suspension, steering and throttle sensitivity of high-performance trucks makes them good in snow.
That pickups can be performance cars is not a new idea. Car and Driver’s list of the fastest pickups goes all the way back to 1991 and the GMC Syclone, which had the seventh fastest zero to 60 time, 5.3 seconds. Most of the fastest and most powerful pickups on the magazine’s list, published in April 2020, were made in the past few years.
Nos. 3 through 5 are 2017 Ford F-150 Raptors, including a Super Crew, a SuperCab and a Limited Twin-Turbo version, each of which came with a 450-hp engine. Nos. 1 and 2, respectively, are the 2004 Ram SRT-10, created by “strapping a massive Dodge Viper 8.3-liter V-10 to the truck’s front subframe,” and the modified 2005 Hennessey Venom 800 TT Ram SRT-10. In the latter case, “800” refers to horsepower.
HiConsumption.com’s list of the “Best High-Performance Pickup Trucks” for 2020-‘21 includes entries from Ford, Chevrolet, Ram, Toyota and Jeep. Horsepower ranges from 270 to 1,000, while prices range from $37,000 to $349,000. Here they are:
A ROUSH performance package “transforms Ford’s entry-level pickup into a bonafide off-road-ready vehicle,” HiConsumption says. The twin-turbo 2.3-liter EcoBoost inline four cylinder engine puts out 270 hp, but luxe touches like quilted stitched leather seats and custom gauges and exterior trim like custom fender flares and “black satin” finish wheels impart a sense of “the bespoke treatment.” Price: $37,000.
Chevrolet Colorado ZR2
The “hardwearing” midsize pickup “takes lessons from Chevy’s more performance-focused models, with a rugged exterior and a cabin that’s more in line with modern luxury cars,” the website says. Still, it’s good for “playing in the mud,” and can tow 5,000 pounds. The 3.6-liter gas V6 produces 308 hp, while a 2.8-liter Duramax turbo-diesel increases torque to 369 foot-pounds. Price: $41,400.
Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro
“A host of thoroughly impressive standard features,” including a revised front fascia, LED fog lights set in aluminum housings, black alloy wheels, Kevlar-reinforced tires and hill start assist set this version apart from other Tacomas. The 3.5-liter V6 makes 278 hp. Price: $44,100.
F-150 ROUSH Nitemare
HiConsumption says that while most muscle tucks are “an amalgam of off-roaders and contemporary supercar,” the Nitemare “is made for the streets.” The supercharged 5-liter V8 pumps out 650 hp and 610ft-lbs of torque, which potentially makes it faster to 60 than anything on Car and Driver’s list. Price: $48,000.
Ford F-150 Raptor
Hood air extractors, flared front fenders and accented wheel lip moldings “distinguish the Raptor from the $29,000 base model,” while 450 hp and 510 foot-pounds of torque and a factory-tuned off-road suspension system equip the Raptor to “go toe-to-toe with pickups that have been heavily upgraded or modified with aftermarket parts, whether in the dirt or on the drag strip, all while remaining under a factory warranty.” Price: $53,500.
Ram 1500 TRX
New for 2021, HiConsumption says that “being bestowed with a wide array of top-shelf features typical of high-dollar supercars”—including a flat-bottom steering wheel with integrated aluminum paddle shifters, digital cluster setup, premium Harman Kardon sound system, eight drive modes (including one for snow) and launch control—makes the 1500 TRX “one of the most modern takes on a Muscle Truck, including. Supercharged 6.2-liter HEMI V8 rated at 702 hp. Price $70,000.
Mil-Spec Automotive Ford F-150
The “Hummer-inspired” tuned version of the Raptor sports a wide body kit, flared fenders and a 5-liter, 500- to 675-hp V8 and “can legitimately be driven straight to the starting line of the Baja 1000.” Price: $89,500.
Ford F-150 Shelby Baja Raptor 525+HP
A predominant model in Kunes Country Ford’s inventory comes with a 525-hp 3.5-liter EcoBoost High Output Engine and auto start/stop. Price: $122,000.
Hennessey MAXIMUS 1000 Jeep Gladiator
A “militaristic” exterior and plush interior, along with a 1,000-hp forced-induction 6.2-liter Hellcat V8 that generates 933 foot-pounds of torque can go just about everywhere and comes with a sticker that soars with the supercars at $225,000.
Hennessey VelociRaptor 6X6
Speaking of supercar stickers, this pickup—which HiConsumption notes, “costs more than the average American home”—has twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 that cranks out 600 hp. Price: $349,000.
[Editor’s note: These stories are provided to Wisconsin Hot Rod Radio by the journalists at the Automobile Dealers Association of Metro Milwaukee without monetary compensation.]