"Bowtie" folks have for decades specially labeled cars and trucks
that possess an added level of spirit. The SSR or Super Sport Roadster
falls into this category, epitomizing the "crossover" ideology
while capturing the rich heritage of Chevrolet in a new kind of vehicle
that provides not only an open air sports car feel, but an unparalleled
level of storage and flexibility -- it's a little bit car and a little
bit truck -- technically, it's a roadster pickup, and "grape"
fun to drive in its purplish hue. The top is a retractable steel unit
that folds and stacks vertically behind the seating area beneath a hard
tonneau cover. Operation is at the touch of a button and takes place in
about 20 seconds either way. The bed features a hard tonneau as well,
hinged at the front.
The architecture, contemporary in nature, is based on the platform of
Chevy's mid-size Trailblazer SUV, while immortalizing the classic essence
of the '48 - '53 Chevy truck. The cab fenders and bed are so artfully
integrated that they appear as a singular unit with highly sculpted surfaces.
The nose incorporates both a current style, full width grille bar and
the familiar Chevy badging of old. The exterior color and sculpted theme
wraps into the interior, completing a harmonious blend of the two elements.
The real surprise is that despite the complicated contours and shapes
that comprise the SSR's alluring makeup, all major body panels are executed
in metal. Many observers perceived it to be a chopped and channeled, full
custom, early Chevy pickup.
power is delivered to the rear wheels via an ohv Vortec 5.3 liter V8 engine,
connected to a four-speed automatic transmission with overdrive. The motor
develops 300 horses and 331 pound feet of torque. Seating consists of
two very comfortable and supportive sport buckets and the automatic gear
selector is located in the center console. For now, there is no clutchless
manual shift mode gearbox available.
Early 2003 SSR production
consisted of 25 special units, as part of a Signature Series, each signed
by development team members and suppliers, and each numbered on a unique
badge that appears on the body-colored "waterfall" seat separator.
All are destined to be auctioned off to the highest bidder, with proceeds
going to various worthwhile charitable causes -- except for Numero Uno
which stays with GM as part of their historical collection. Number Two
was donated to the Society of Automotive Engineers, and has already sold
on eBay for $137,850. The balance of the Signature Series will be sold
as used, after refurbishing, with a specific "pedigree" and
related memorabilia associated with its use as part of the package.
My test SSR was Number
22 in the Series and was finished in a chameleon-like Ultra-Violet metallic,
sometimes appearing to be purple and at other times, blue. The interior
was done up in black with silver stitching, and sporting trim with a brushed
aluminum look. It is scheduled for auction late in the year -- if you're
able to catch 22, consider yourself lucky. Signatories for #22 are Tom
Wilkinson, Director of Chevrolet Communications and Dick Raymond, GM Integration
Manager for General Assembly.