I got a surprise phone call this morning from Tom Wallace who heads up the SSR program for GM. Wasn't that much of a surprise as I was told he would be calling me. I own a machine shop in the Detroit metro area and do some prototype work with GM Tech center in Warren MI. A friend who I do some business with after seeing my truck mentioned he new Tom quite well and said he would put me in touch with him to answer some of my questions. Well he did call me and we had a long conversation about the SSR. I asked him if he minded if I quoted him on some of the discussion and he said he had no problem at all with that. So hear goes. I told him about my pet peeves no compass or outside temperture. He agreed and said it had been addressed for the 05 model. He also mentioned he has an SSR he drives when ever he can (no doubt a GM perk) And misses not having that. I asked him about the Gage package and how many of us would have liked to have that. He explained to me the reason they didn't get it in the 03 or 04 was they couldn't get it to work properly there were quality issues. It will be available for the 05. My next obvious question are the 03 and 04 prewired for an easy retrofit. He beleived it was but told he would have either Bob Walczyk the marketing mgr. or Mickey Sabol from the engineering group call me with that information. When I get it I will pass it on. I told him about the heavy hood and flimsy support rod he agreed and said that too will be addressed on the 05 he also mentioned they made sure to make it an easy retrofit for the 03 and 04. I told him I was unhappy with the poor quality sound and apparently they have been working closely with Bose to rectify that, he said it was a huge challenge due to the size of the interior to get the correct size speakers and the correct placement so when the top was down it would still sound good. I was very surprised how in tune he was to all the issues I brought up I assured him I loved the truck and didn't want to sound like I was picking it apart. I also told him how upset I was about some of the new car dealer gouging that was going on. He knew that was going on and was very unhappy about it also, he mentioned that the dealers are independent business owners and can charge what ever they want however GM does not agree with it and he alluded some of the dealers who abuse it may not get their allotment of 05's. I asked him about the choice of engines and why they didn't go with the 5.7 vette engine. He told me it was a timing issue originally they had wanted to get an engine with over 300 HP and the 5.7 would have worked fine only problem it would have taken another year to get it to market so he made the decision to go with the 5.3 as it was already packaged for the Trail Blazer. The 5.7 would have required changing the powertrain, electrical, and emmission requirements. I think he made the right decision I know I wouldn't have wanted to wait another year. In closing I thanked him for being so candid and also for calling me as Im sure he has a very busy schedule. I hope I covered most of the concerns we all had regarding the SSR and I feel better knowing the powers that be are very much on top of all the issues. If anyone has a question that I didn't address and would like to personally speak with Tom Wallace he gave me his phone number at the GM Tech Center where he is now working out of. E-mail me and I will give it to a couple people that have valid questions. Naturally if a 100 or so people were to call him he might not be too happy with me. So I won't be able to give it to everyone. Oh almost forgot I asked him about the rumor of the 05 having a 6.0 engine he said he couldn't publicly comment on that as the news release is scheduled for July regarding any changes to the SSR.