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SSR Owners Group
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Good SSR Press:

Chevy SSR hauls a ton of 'wow'

Inspired in design by vintage Chevrolet pickup trucks, the SSR roadster is really less of a truck and more of a roadster and head turner on the South Florida boulevards.

When I first saw the Chevrolet SSR at the South Florida International Auto Show, I was simply awestruck. It moved me. I couldn't stop grinning. ''What a wild concept,'' I thought.

But this crazy crossbreed of a vintage pickup truck and a roadster will never make it to production, I remember thinking. It was like crossing a workhorse with a cheetah.

What do I know? That was a prototype and, shockingly, plans by GM already were quickly moving ahead.

The concept took shape in 1999 when a team of young designers were commissioned to incorporate the heritage of Chevy trucks into something modern and hip. Despite four designs that emerged, one idea nagged GM design executive Ed Welburn: ''The idea of a pickup truck that was also a modern convertible roadster held great promise,'' he had said.

By the summer of '03 this brute -- with Corvette-like power yet heavier than a full-size Cadillac -- was on the streets, turning heads and prompting the question: ``What the heck is that?''

The SSR has the look (at least up front) of a late '40s and early '50s pickup truck and the power of a '60s muscle car, all packaged in, yes, a roadster (SSR stands for Super Sport Roadster). It has striking flared fenders in the front and rear.

Its radical design is a big-time attention getter. You'll get plenty of nods and smiles while cruising A1A. However, its appeal is less than universal.

Personally, I love the bold and unique -- and classic trucks, too. It was a no brainer for me. My wife, Diane, was fonder of it than she expected to be. Surprisingly, high-school daughter Marisa, whose middle name should be chic, turned thumbs down: too weird -- ''like a UFO,'' she said.

Equally surprising, truck-loving dad shook his head and just couldn't see the point of this beast.

Uh, how about good clean fun? While it is more for looking good on the highways than impressing with its speed, the rear-wheel-drive SSR does move with some authority. It has a 5.3-liter V8 that gets 300 horsepower and 331 pound-feet of torque.

Problem is, this hefty truckster is pushing 5,000 pounds. Zero to 60 takes a few tenths more than seven seconds and the quarter takes 16 seconds. Not too bad, but some have wondered why the 6.0-liter engine from the concept did not wind up in the production model.

This just in (a Wheels & Waves scoop): My sources tell me that a 6.0-liter V8 will be available in the next model year.

While the SSR has truck genetics, those looking for a real truck will be disappointed. Its cargo bed, which is lockable, offers 23.7 cubic feet of space -- far more than you'll find in any roadster out there, but that pales in comparison to the Chevy Silverado and other pickups. The cargo bed is carpeted but, better yet, you can also get wood trim that is reminiscent of the classic trucks.

Another truck deficiency: Towing capacity is just 2,500 pounds, OK for Jet Skis and kayaks but not much more. (Hey, are you really buying this thing for towing?)

Mileage is estimated at 15 mpg city, 19 highway.

On the road, the SSR is more agile than expected, but no one will confuse it with a pure sports car. The ride is firm but comfortable and it grips the road well enough on corners. It has bigger tires in the rear (20-inch) than the front (19-inch), like my '81 DeLorean, to help improve maneuverability.

Its turning radius is tight enough even for neighborhood U-turns.

The SSR has a solid feel, helped by its hydroformed frame (no welds) which gives it strength and stiffness. A four-speed automatic shifted smoothly and without any clunks.

One of the most impressive features of the SSR is its retractable hard top. In about 25 seconds, two roof panels move independently to stack behind the passenger compartment. That way they take up less room in the cargo box. Called a ''top stack,'' there is no other system quite like it.

It operates with the push of a button and is fully automatic.

Inside, six-way power seats are trimmed in leather and the dash is accented in aluminum. The instrument panel has big, round dials reminiscent of the old trucks and long needles -- nothing digital here.

Don't plan to bring much with you -- storage pockets are nearly nonexistent. There are narrow mapholders on the doors but no other slots or trays for cellphones, sunglasses and pens.

The cup holders that spring out from the dash and center console are flimsy and barely adequate -- if you're careful.

The SSR comes with dual-stage front air bags, side-impact air bags and antilock brakes. While electronic traction control is standard, stability control is not available.

As far as trim levels go, there is only one. All SSRs are offered as retractable hardtop roadsters and they all get the same 5.3-liter engine. There is, however, a ''preferred equipment group'' option for $1,900 that includes a memory package for seats and an upgraded audio system -- a Bose with in-dash six-CD player.

The SSR is priced at $41,370 (without the premium package). Although just a few thousand short of a Corvette, some thought on the importance of the ''wow factor'' is in order.

So let's review: The SSR is part roadster and part pickup. As a pure roadster, it's a little heavy and not too nimble. As a pure pickup, it's not quite big enough or tough enough.

But as a cruiser and head turner along Ocean Drive, one that is fun to be in and seen in, it has few peers.

(I sent the writer a quick email of appreciation!!!)

SSR Owners Group
3,752 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Note from the writer:

Thanks for reading, Keith. You epitomize Chevy's target market: Those who recognize and appreciate a fun, novel and bold set of wheels. Enjoy. By the way, I'll keep the pic for use some day in the section's "My Ride" feature, if you'd like. Just need need you to send me your hometown. Thanks again.
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