By on April 4, 2017

1990 GMC Spectre Front 3/4, Image via eBay

Decals, stripes, special paint, lettering, low production figures. These things are important and relevant in a modern world sort of kitschy, but very enjoyable. Last week’s Nissan Hardbody Rare Ride had all those in spades, and this week’s truck turns it up to 11 (kind of). It’s definitely rare, but the appeal and pedigree are questionable.

Prepare your skepticism and critical thinking keyboards.

1990 GMC Spectre Front, Image via eBay

What you’re seeing here is a 1990 GMC Spectre. Now, this truck was listed on Craigslist (post removed), eBay (listing ended), and presently sits on Classic Cars for Sale. Each of these listings has/had somewhat different detail, and a varying number of photos. I’ve pulled the photos here from the completed eBay listing, as they were the best quality and most numerous.

1990 GMC Spectre Sport Truck Magazine Cover, Image via eBay

“It’s as if a pair of Zubaz pants somehow sprouted a V8.” – Chris Tonn

According to the various materials provided, the GMC Spectre was created so GMC would have a special, sporty truck to offer under its brand when the Chevy 454 SS went to market in 1990.

1990 GMC Spectre Rear, Image via eBay

To this end, GMC decided to make a limited run of the Sierra with an L98 Corvette engine under the hood. According to one of the articles, this L98 would ” … single-handedly demote the 454 SS to ‘The Pickup from Heck.'” Wish I could come up with turns of phrase like that.

1990 GMC Spectre Interior. Image via eBay

The special paint, bodywork, and engine are complemented by a stunning interior straight from the Geo Tracker House of Style, and the package was carefully crafted by Chattanooga Custom Center, which must be somewhere in Tennessee. But it’s unclear from the information provided whether the limited run ever took place, or if it stayed at just a couple of show examples.

1990 GMC Spectre Engine, Image via eBay

This Spectre has seen better days, which is sort of where the questions begin. According to the AutoCheck on the eBay listing, the car was first titled in 2004. In 2006, it had about 8,000 miles, shooting up to over 123,000 in 2011. Then in 2016, it went back down to 24,000. There’s a big fat odometer discrepancy here.

1990 GMC Spectre Magazine Clipping, Image via eBay

Notice the (awesome) purple wheels shown in magazines are also missing. The radio is busted, the back window doesn’t roll down, and there is faded and damaged paint.

1990 GMC Spectre CarFax, Image via eBay

CarFax indicates it has been serviced at a Kia dealer, though the seller insists it’s a concept and a museum piece. The truck reached $5,600 at the conclusion of the eBay sale, obviously not meeting the reserve — so there may still be time to scoop a Spectre!

How rare do you think this Spectre is? Is it a concept, or just a limited-production item? Is it awesome, or a fanny pack piece of easily forgotten chintz?

We need the answers only you can provide.

[Photos via eBay]

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50 Comments on “Rare Rides: Is This 1990 GMC Spectre a Bold Collectible or Junk?...”

  • avatar


  • avatar

    OMG! The center lights under the grille look like bunny teeth!

  • avatar

    It’s like that attractive girl you know who probably does smack or meth. You want to go for a ride even though you know it’s probably not worth it.

  • avatar

    God help us when the 90s make a comeback. Damn that is hideous as can be.

  • avatar

    Was this in collaboration with Pep Boys?

  • avatar

    *filing nails*

    *looks up*


    *resumes filing nails*

  • avatar

    Parts truck!

  • avatar

    Remove decals, return to stock suspension, find junkyard stock front bumper. If motor has good compression it’s a $3,800 2wd P/U. Can’t believe doors are not doing the famous GM pickup sag?

  • avatar

    The “under hood” photo shows the 12v work light with its reel mounted on the inside of the fender. The one on my ’90 Cheyenne had a really long cable to allow a person to use the light (with its magnetic mount) pretty much anywhere in the truck. When you were done you just popped out the little handle and reeled the cable and light back to the stored position. This was a pretty good idea in my mind and came in handy at times such as scanning for the dead cat in the fan shroud after a screeching cold-morning startup.

  • avatar
    Shinoda is my middle name

    It’s not quite kill-it-with-fire ugly.

    Oh, hell. Yes it is.

    Put it out of our misery.

  • avatar

    That truck is … not good.

  • avatar

    Looks like the sort of truck A.C. Slater would drive, after getting his dad to buy it for him.

  • avatar

    Man the 90’s had such awful graphics. Although when I was 5 (in 1990) I thought they were cool….so much pastel.

    • 0 avatar

      As a child of the 90’s well, I can’t help but like this even though it’s god awful. It makes me think of rollerblading birthday parties, Nickelodeon, and a time when both of my sports teams were good.

      I’d pay $3000 for this and I’d laugh and shake my head every time I walked outside to take it for a spin. The dream of the 90’s is alive!

  • avatar

    This needs to be a speed bump at a monster truck race.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    Junk. Burn it.

    Fortunately, I wasn’t around this early into the nineties, so I’m not to blame for this hideous jalopy.

  • avatar

    Bunch of philistines.

    Remove the graphics, find some non-purple interior trim from a junkyard GMT400, clean sh!t up, and you have a GMT400 with a unique pedigree. Too bad about the stepside bed, but GMT400s are some of the best-looking trucks ever made.

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      I agree dal20402. Remove the graphics and the stuff added to the front and you have lowered gray GMC stepside with a factory installed Corvette engine and aftermarket wheels. Most of the purple interior parts are easy to replace. Get it at the right price and you have the start of a fun hot rod that can occasionally haul stuff home from Home Depot.

      • 0 avatar
        Adam Tonge

        The problem with that is this truck is worth $6000, max. That’s if it’s super clean.

        This truck has garbage aftermarket wheels, a weird history with multiple auction sales, mileage inconsistencies, and an engine that isn’t desirable. It’s just a better 350. There are way better ways to buy a GMT400. The 454 SS truck is more desirable, and so is an LS/LT swap into a truck with the story.

        This truck looks meh, doesn’t have the original wheels, comes with no paperwork, and wasn’t registered until 2004. Who knows where the hell it was until then.

        This dude wants $25K for it!

  • avatar

    So, does it actually have the L98, or did someone just after-the-fact try to make it look like a car they saw in a magazine once?

    Also, the mileage discrepancy is easy to resolve – just assume someone fat-fingered the “2” and hit both 1-and-then-2 together for the “123,000” on one of those plastic-covered keyboards at the dealers while wearing work gloves, and then the sequence is 8000, 23000, 24000, which doesn’t seem that impossible..

    • 0 avatar
      Adam Tonge

      It actually does have the L98, per the owner. Apparently the block indicates that. There is took much stuff added on to that truck for it not to be a Spectre. No one would go through that much trouble for this.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    A 1990 Corvette was about, what 250hp? Chevy got the better end of that deal.

    • 0 avatar

      A 1990 L98 was rated in the Corvette at [email protected] and [email protected]
      A 1990 454SS was rated [email protected] and [email protected]

      My guess is that they would be about the same 0-60. Neither engine can rev for sh*t, which is fine in a work truck, not okay in a Corvette, and maybe okay (?) in a sport truck or F-body. The 454 was TBI and the L98 was TPI, in 2017 I think I’d rather have TBI. And the 454 sounds better.

      So yea, even without the 90s graphics I think the Chevy version worked better.

      • 0 avatar

        The 454SS had ludicrously bad fuel mileage even by old truck standards. Its EPA ratings (on the old, more generous scale) were 10/11.

        I expect the L98 would do significantly better, probably similar to a truck 350 when not under heavy caning.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    This is almost exactly what I would want in a truck from this vintage. I love the sportside bed and I love the seats (not so much the graphics.
    Back in ’91 I would have been 100% into this as is. The wilder the better.

    I’d still love to have this without the graphics, the extra lights in the push bar, and the headlight covers.

    This sure indicates it never made it to production:

  • avatar

    Will the owner throw in his Hammer pants, and his VHS copies of Seasons One through Five of “Baywatch”?

  • avatar

    You alls are so judgmental ! .
    I guarantee you there’s a Farm Boy out there who’d cream his jeans to have this .
    Remember the Cyclone and typhoon GM trucks ? the last one I ever saw was doing POOL SERVICE and the bed was full of gallons of chlorine ~ I’m sure it’s rusted away by now .

  • avatar

    I like it. I don’t want it, but, I do like it.

  • avatar

    This thing is TMU and godawful. I’d love to meet the bidder @ 5,6 as I could probably sell him anything.

    In my view, the most thing thing would be worth is whatever L98 powered pickups go for in that age period. I see no additional premium for being purple and weird.

  • avatar

    If you look at the graphics in the magazine, and compare them tot he truck in the listing, they don’t match up. It’s not even close. That extraordinarily questionable provenance coupled with the wrong wheels, questionable mileage, etc. puts this squarely in crackpipe territory.

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