Banks Chevrolet 454 SS “Rat Rod” Shop Truck
Years 1990
Drivetrain Front / Rear
Engine 6.0L Turbocharged v 8
Power 640hp (477.4kW) @ 6800 rpm
545lb-ft (735.8Nm) @ 5800 rpm

Banks ‘Rat Rod’ Shop Truck

by Tim Gavern

The Banks Race Shop crew recently built five high-performance trucks to do “the long haul” on Hot Rod Magazine’s Power Tour 2005. Banks’ “Rat Rod” Race Shop Truck was the only gasoline-powered truck of the five. Because this is Gale Banks Engineering, the other four trucks were turbodiesel powered.

What a truck the ‘Rat Rod’ turned out to be. Gale bought the 454SS new in 1990 and it did duty as a family vehicle for many years. It was actually built into its twin-turbo race-shop-delivery-truck form last year, but it only recently received it new “Rat Rod” look for Power Tour.

In the past few months, the truck was disassembled again, the body straightened, stripped, masked and a flat black paint job was commissioned. Unfortunately, the Rat Rod just didn’t look right when it came back from the paint shop. When Gale found out that the painter put the flattener into the clear instead of the black paint, the clear was buffed off and the black paint was rubbed out. (I guess some shops aren’t exactly hip on to how to achieve the rat rod flat black look…). Well, we like the gloss black better, anyway.

Of course, the Rat Rod’s twin-turbo small block Chevrolet was developed as part of the Banks “revival” twin-turbo program last year. Banks’ extensive twin-turbo program was dynamometer developed to have four variations; each with different horsepower and torque outputs. There are 91 and 100 octane ratings with and without charge-air cooling (see chart). Besides octane and charge-air cooling, about the only other changes necessary to achieve the astronomical horsepower and torque numbers are larger injectors and different wastegate settings.

The maximum effort achieved from Banks’ new 366 cu. in. twin-turbo engines is 1,115-horsepower at 6800 rpm. It arrives by using 100-octane gasoline with serious charge-air cooling, having the largest injectors available and setting the wastegates to achieve a maximum boost of 20-lbs. Torque is a stump-pulling 905 lb.-ft. @ 5800 rpm. Yikes!

The next step down is also intercooled, but on 91 octane gasoline. The horsepower rating is “only” 825 @ 6800 rpm with 695 lb.-ft. at 5800 rpm at 14 lbs. boost.

Without charge-air cooling, on 100 octane, the horsepower numbers become 800 @ 6800 rpm with 655 lb.-ft. @ 5800 rpm at 14 lbs. boost.

In the Rat Rod’s present state-of-tune (without charge-air cooling running on 91 octane), its 366 cu.-in. twin-turbo small block Chevrolet was dynamometer-tested at 640 horsepower at 6,800 r.p.m. at the flywheel at 9-psi. Torque is a healthy 545 lb.-ft. at 5800 r.p.m. Believe me, this is more than enough horsepower to absolutely pin you into your seat. And the acceleration keeps coming as the turbochargers force you to upshift one gear right after another. In a hurry.

When the truck was built into its twin-turbocharged form last year, the huge power twisted the stock frame like a pretzel, so Banks’ crew removed the bed and fabricated several round-tube street rod-style frame strengtheners that now tie the chassis together in several places. This made the truck considerably stiffer; you could really feel the difference. Also, adding Cal Tracks bars to the heavy-duty Detroit Locker-equipped 3.73-geared 14-bolt GM rearend now allows much more of the power to get to the ground–instead of being wasted as tire smoke.

Banks ‘Rat Rod’ features a Richmond 6-speed trans with a Centerforce 12” billet steel flywheel and Dual Friction clutch and pressure plate. Stopping the truck from high rates of speed requires great brakes and the call went to Baer for a set of its incredible GT Plus 12.75" front and rear disc brakes. After many miles spent in the Rat Rod on Power Tour, I can attest to their stopping power. Finally, if you’ll notice, the front end was dropped several inches—this was handled with Bell Tech Spindles modified by Baer to work with its GT Plus Brakes. It looks just right. It’s not too low.

Finally, there are Gale’s superb choice of wheels. They are red powder-coated 18" billet aluminum "pseudo steelies" by Wheel Vintiques on suuuuper-sticky Nitto NT555R 305/45R-18s. They really set off the retro lettering on the doors and give it the “Rat Rod” look. Okay, Rat Rod on a suitcase full of fifties.

Oh, and to top it off, a twin to the ‘Rat Rod’ is also being built at Banks Race Shop. The twin will be intercooled with a 4L-80E automatic trans. Expect well over 1,500 horsepower from its intercooled twin-turbo BIG BLOCK Chevrolet. To get all this power to the ground, an Art Morrison rear subframe with 4-link and a 9-inch rearend is being installed. That’s all we’re telling you for now. You’ll just have to wait and see how it turns out.

We know after seeing Banks’ Rat Rod, you’re going to want to build a twin-turbocharged engine for your ride. Complete engines rated at up to 1,115 horsepower are available as are complete kits to bolt two turbos onto your small block Chevy. Kits start at $5,995.00.


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Other Banks's: Chevrolet Sidewinder D-Max Type-D , Dodge Dakota Sidewinder LSR , GMC Sierra Sidewinder D-Max Type-R ,
Other 1990's: Chevrolet 454 SS , GMC Truck Motorsports Syclone LSR ,
"We're going road racing in a truck. That's so wrong." - Gale Banks