Do you believe in love at first sight? If you don’t, you have probably never seen the uniquely wonderful Chevy SSR. With curves in all the right places, the Chevy SSR is a true sight to behold. Thankfully, they aren’t too difficult to find. Check out your local used Chevy dealer and you might just get an eyeful of one of the coolest trucks, I mean hot rods, wait, “truckrods” to ever hit the automotive world.
The Chevy Super Sport Roadster is a creative combination of roadster and truck. That might sound like an odd combination, but boy, does it work. This curious crossbreed made its world debut more than twenty years ago at the 2000 Detroit Auto Show. Unsurprisingly, it caused quite a stir.
It’s Got the Looks
When you first look at the Chevy SSR, your first thought will probably be, “Wow, that’s really cool,” followed by, “What is it?!” You aren’t alone. At first glance, the SSR looks like a classic hot rod with the body of a truck, which is basically what it is. The front end is reminiscent of Chevrolet’s trucks from the late 40’s, with sloped lines as far as the eye can see. Puffed out fenders adorn the front and rear wheels, with a deep sloping hood and rounded roof. Round headlamps sit on either side of a body-colored soft “V” grille. A contrasting brushed aluminum crossbar is sunk into the grille, adding a bit of flash. Round recessed door handles keep the theme.
It isn’t just the classic hot rod style in the form of a pickup that makes this “truckrod” so fantastic. In fact, the SSR has a secret. With the push of a button, the SSR becomes a convertible. Better yet, it becomes a “truckvertible.” It’s like something straight out of a 1950s sci-fi movie.
The foldable hardtop offers roomy protection when up, and easily stows away for a fun, open air experience. The hardtop was cleverly and thoughtfully designed to pack away without taking away from cabin or cargo space. A compartment behind the seats conceals the hardtop when it’s down. With one press of a button, the hardtop unhooks, retracts automatically, and folds in on itself automatically. To put it back up, simply press the button again and watch as it unfolds and latches itself for safety and security.
Cargo space comes in the form of a truck bed that is covered by a solid body-colored tonneau. Remove the cover and use your SSR for those jobs too rough for anything but a truck, right? Not really. It’s still a hodgepodge hot rod style truck, so maybe stick to the smaller jobs. Nonetheless, you can still enjoy some utility by removing the tonneau and loading up your cargo. There is even an optional towing package to help you get the most out of your SSR.
Apparently, there was a mounting kit for the tonneau cover that was included with the vehicle, but whether or not you will find this still intact with a twenty-something year old vehicle is debatable. The truck bed also had an option for carpet inserts in the bed, but since these were held down by Velcro, there is no guarantee you will find an SSR with these inserts still installed.
The interior sports luxury leather upholstery on sport-style bucket seats that look incredibly comfortable. Some models, which will be discussed later, also have a fun retro-styled instrument cluster. Cloth flooring matches the black dashboard and door panels. There are also chrome-painted plastics breaking up the black materials.
The SSR had plenty of luxuries that came standard or were available as an upgrade. Of course, what you get will be luck of the draw when hunting through a twenty-year-old haystack. Some features you may find are heated seats, a Bose sound system, heated mirrors, a towing package, a sport suspension package, and an engine cover.
More Hot Rod Than Truck
Despite being unveiled in 2000, it took a few years for the SSR to hit the streets. It remained fairly close to the pre-production version that had everyone in a tizzy with a few minor changes.
To start, the first production SSR is equipped with a small block Vortec V8. This 5.3-liter V8 produces 300 horsepower and 331 lb-ft of torque, and is paired with a four-speed automatic transmission. This rear-wheel drive wunderkind might not win any races, but let’s be real, that’s not why you buy a car like this. You buy it because it’s a blast to drive and will definitely turn heads.
However, if you do feel the need for speed, keep on the lookout for a 2005 model. The engine was swapped out for a 6.0-liter V8 with more oomph. A bump to 390 horsepower and 405 lb-ft of torque is enough to satisfy that speed craving. It is still paired with a four-speed automatic, but if you find an upgraded one you can enjoy the fun of a six-speed manual. There is nothing more thrilling than cruising down the freeway in your truck with the top down.
The SSR is a two door, body-on-frame design that uses the platform of the TrailBlazer. The chassis is beefed up with extra support bars to help make up for Chevy lopping off the midsection to make way for its out-of-this-world design. The frame is hydroformed, which is a process ideal for uniquely shaped parts that provides a strong base for this fun and funky Chevy. Shock lines and the like are nonexistent when material is formed using this process, improving structural integrity.
The SSR Indy Pace Car
Chevy has been quite involved with the Indianapolis 500, so it should come as no surprise that the SSR had the honor of being a pace car in 2003 at the 87th Indy 500. The SSR Pace car features an Ultraviolet paint job with ghost flames in silver across the front end. Indy 500 decals, race style safety restraints, and a safety light bar are a few of the additions that were made. The suspension was also upgraded, along with the engine.
The SSR Signature Series
The first 25 production SSR vehicles were born into the world with a preordained destiny to become the face of the SSR through a rather clever marketing ploy. These first 25 SSRs were given VINs ranging from 000001 through 000025, as the thought was that collectors look for low VINs. From there, the 25 Signature Series SSRs would each set out on an adventure to spread awareness and excitement for the Super Sport Roadster.
Each vehicle had a planned trip that would put it face-to-face with special celebrity guests and high-profile events. During each encounter, memorabilia was collected and compiled with the intention of auctioning it off with said SSR. The chosen ones were also signed by GM execs and designers. The hope was that this history would increase the roadsters’ value.
The collection of memorabilia was referred to as the vehicle’s pedigree, and was stored in a unique metal pedigree box. Exclusive extras were also added to the vehicle itself. Ultraviolet paint, unique badging, and those retro gauge clusters mentioned previously were a few of the extras on the Signature Series SSRs.
Buy Into The Hype
The Chevy SSR was not the hit that Chevy had hoped for. It could have been the price tag, which started at a hefty $40,000. It also could have been the less than exciting engine that veered far from the concept option. Honestly, though, it’s probably because not enough people could appreciate the genius behind the design. I, however, do appreciate it, and I hope you do too.