The Chevrolet 454-cubic-inch V-8 engine debuted near the end of the muscle car era in 1970. At its peak, the 454 was developing 450 horsepower in the Camaro and Chevelle passenger cars. By 1974, however, government-mandated smog requirements killed the muscle car as the 454’s horsepower rating dipped to 235. Although the 454 was no longer a practical powerplant for cars, it remained an option on two- and four-wheel-drive Chevy and GMC trucks, especially the 1-ton models.
Two versions of the optional 454 were available in 1-ton Chevy trucks. The LE8 454 was the most common from 1973 to 1991. The L19 TBI, or throttle body injection, powered 1987 and later trucks as the second 454 engine option. The TBI 454 had fuel injectors in the middle of the throttle body that increased fuel efficiency, power and durability.
Early Truck 454s
Chevy began installing 454 V-8s in its trucks in 1973. All 454s have a 4.25-inch bore and 4-inch stroke. The 1973 1-ton trucks were equipped with a 240-horsepower 454 generating 355 foot-pounds of torque. In 1977, General Motors offered special trailering packages for its Chevys and GMC trucks, including the 1-tons. These 454s with four-barrel carburetors developed 230 horsepower and 360 foot-pounds of torque. The trailering package came with a Turbo Hydra-matic automatic transmission, heavy-duty battery, power steering and brakes, weight-distributing hitch and trailer wiring harness. This allowed the 1-ton four-wheel-drive trucks to tow up to 4,500 lbs.
Buyers could order the 1987 and later 1-ton and larger Chevrolet and GMC pickups with the optional L19 230-horsepower TBI 454 V-8 wielding 385 foot-pounds of torque. The advantage of these 454s over the LE8 versions was the electronic fuel injection and additional torque of 15 foot-pounds. The LE8 version still served GM trucks through 1991, although its horsepower rating varied from a low rating of 215 horsepower in 1974 up to about 230 in 1991.
The standard transmission matching the LE8 454 on 1973 to 1987 trucks was the four-speed Muncie manual. The Muncie four-speed manual with overdrive was available on 1982 to 1987 models. The 1973 to 1976 half- and three-quarter-ton trucks with the 454 received the TH350 three-speed automatic. Only the 1-ton and larger 1977 and later Chevys got the TH400 three-speed automatic.
Aftermarket engine manufacturers sell crate, or replacement, 454 V-8s for 1973 to 1993 Chevy and GMC pickups. General Motors’ Mr. Goodwrench parts network, for example, provides 454s to LE8 or L19 TBI specifications that include a new cylinder block, camshaft, lifters, oil pump, connecting rods, pins and rings, bearings, seals and valve train assembly.