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The MSRP for normal production models will be $41,995 including the
destination and handling fee, should you be able to actually find one at the window sticker price.

SUMMARY: The SSR is a knockout to behold -- it is way out custom cool with a retro flavor, but with modern technology and dependability. It is literally a turn-key showpiece. Drivability deserves similar praise, keeping in mind that my test SSR was a very early production model, and that final quality will be more refined.

The ride is comfortable and handling is fairly nimble considering the 4760 pound weigh-in. The 0-60 mph time is 7.6 seconds, with the quarter mile ticking off @90 mph in 15.9 seconds. The exhaust note is sweet, and the sound system divine with one's favorite driving tunes cranked up.

Essentially, everything about the SSR makes it a joy to cruise your
favorite haunts in. I made a few notes concerning issues that would only serve to enhance this collectible Super Sport Roadster (pickup) in the eyes of dyed-in-the-wool "rodders" -- A 5.7 liter motor would be really nice, while a 6.0 liter V8 would be even better. Mate either mill to a six-speed manual gearbox for smoky burnouts or at the very least , a clutchless, manually shiftable automatic transmission. Next, a lower stance is in order, say two to three inches, with a pronounced forward rake. Okay, these would add significantly to the purchase price, and are only for the hard-core types. One thing that is needed though is an assist strut for the heavy hood, which would eliminate the need for a manual prop rod.

If you're modest, or the private sort, the SSR isn't the ride of choice for
you -- going anywhere without being noticed is impossible. Expect all manner of approving signals: honking, yelling, thumbs-up, and okay signs. Expect to have your picture taken by cell phone/camera users on the road. Expect to be followed until you stop, and then expect a crowd to gather with a myriad of questions from "what is it?" to "how much is it?" and virtually every query in between. Expect to demonstrate the top a lot. Some admirers even double parked in front of my house to take pictures or to discuss it. Surprisingly, many
observers were savvy and knew exactly what it was, while others perceived it to be a totally custom creation.

My SSR experience amounted to fun squared with visits to a Champagne cellar in Napa Valley, CA reflecting my tastes, to the headquarters of Calistoga Bottled Water -- the latter more in keeping with my budget. The SSR is a worthy "halo" vehicle for the Chevrolet brand and will no doubt be next in demand to the Corvette. Don't forget to register for the auction -- if you don't, your acquisition chances will improve with time. 2003 production will yield 3,500 (including the 25 Signature Series units), plans for '04 call for 10,000 and '05 calls for between 14,000 and 15,000.

SPECIFICATIONS: Chevrolet SSR

Base Price: $41,370
Price as Tested: $41,995

Engine Type and Size: 5.3 liter Vortec 5300 OHV V-8 electronic sequential fuel injection

Horsepower (bhp): 300 @ 5200 rpm
Torque (ft./ lbs.): 331 @ 4000 rpm

Transmission: Four-speed automatic with overdrive

Drive Train: Longitudinally mounted front engine / Rear-wheel drive

Suspension: Front - Double A-arm
Rear - Five-link solid axle

Brakes: Power-assisted four-wheel disc vented rear with anti-lock braking system.

Tires: Goodyear RS-A P255/45R19 front / P295/40R20 rear mounted on five-slotted-spoke alloy wheels (8-inches wide front / 10-inches wide rear)

Wheelbase: 116.0 inches
Length Overall: 191.4 inches
Width: 78.6 inches
Curb Weight: 4760 lbs

Fuel Capacity: 25.0 gallons
EPA Mileage Estimates: 15 mpg city / 21 mpg highway

Drag Coefficient: Not listed
0 - 60 mph: 7.6 seconds

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