Q: Greg I have a 1996 S10 SS that I purchased a few years back for $1,800. It needed front end work which I repaired and gave it a fresh tune-up. It runs good and delivers great gas mileage.

I also took it to the body shop for some much needed cosmetic work, including cab corners, dents and paint. It was rough in appearance but looks good now.

From what info I found, Chevy only made 1,240 of the 1996 series, the least of any year S10 SS. I have checked the vehicle identification numbers (VIN) to compare the options that were only on the S10 SS and came up with these: SS trim package, standard 4.3 HO V6 motor, Sport Suspension, 3.42 gear ratio and a locking rear differential. My VIN numbers match the options above that were available from the information I could locate.

I would like your input on this truck and any additional information you might have on it. It does turn heads and I have had several people ask me about it. Much thanks and keep up the great columns.
Bryan Dameron, Wichita, Kansas

A: Bryan, you indeed have a very rare Chevy S10 on your hands. Even though compact pickup trucks haven’t appreciated much in the collector car and truck hobby, that SS pickup badge makes it very special.

You are a smart not to invest too much money in your SS, although it does deserve the TLC work you gave it. Luckily, you snagged this rare SS for just $1,800.

First, a little history on the S-Series Chevy pickups. General Motors released the very first compact size pickup before Ford or Dodge way back in 1982. Sibling GMC came along for the ride and was initially called an S-15 before a name change to Sonoma. A note to Dodge and Ford purist readers: True, specific, American-built compact pickups from the Big Three are included in this feature. The 1960s Falcon Ranchero (a car), 1970s Ford Courier (a Mazda), and Dodge A-100 (a van based “cab over” pickup) are not included. Likewise for the 1960s Corvair Greenbrier (rear engine van/pickup).

I recall the Chevrolet S-Series pickups were big hits right out of the gate. They lasted an impressive 22 years until 2004, when replaced by the new generation “S10” called the Chevy Colorado. Not surprisingly, the Colorado is a giant hit at Chevy dealerships and is now in its second generation.

As you already know, your Chevrolet S10 SS is one of the rarest of the S10 family after being brought to market in 1994. (There was an even rarer S10 in 1997-1998 that was fully electric, but that’s a story for another column). As a high-performance version of the S10, the SS only came in three colors on introduction: Summit White, Apple Red or Onyx Black.

Chevy discontinued the SS after 1998, culminating a five-year run. The next lowest production year to 1996 was 1998 when just 1,328 SS models were delivered. The highest production year was 1994 when 5,670 S10 SS models were sold. Considering millions of S10s were delivered over its lifetime, these low SS production numbers and specifically your 1,240 SS numbers make for good conversation starters. Your S10 runs on a 108.3-inch wheelbase and had a base price of $11,070 when new. Notable is that the SS standard 4.3-liter Vortec V6 engine was an option on regular S10 models, producing 180 to 200 horsepower depending on production year.

Significant upgrades on the 1996 SS include body-colored bumpers and grilles and larger 16-inch wheels. I also notice your S10 SS has the original Chevrolet “bowtie” logo dog dish hubcaps, which are very rare these days. Also in ’96 the SS featured for the first time a two-inch lower suspension, something Chevy improved on even more when it introduced the SS replacement called the Chevy S10 Xtreme. Additionally, your SS was the first year Chevy included the ZQ8 Sport Suspension package as standard equipment, featuring performance Bilstein shocks and larger stabilizer bars.

In ending, each and every S10 SS ever built was a regular cab model. Your S10 SS is currently valued at a high retail of $5,075 by NADA, with the average retail in at $3,975 while low retail is $2,550. Remember, these are just estimates, and many pristine S10 SS models bring more money.

But it’s the fun factor that rates high with your SS, because there just aren’t many of these compact Chevy SS pickups around. On the plus side, remember that pickup trucks are hot right now and getting hotter, so perhaps down the road these rare S10 SS pickups may increase in value, even if it’s just a little.

Thanks for your question Bryan and have fun at the car shows with your rare SS.
Greg Zyla writes weekly for More Content Now and GateHouse Media. Contact him at greg@gregzyla.com.