The Chevrolet Super Sport Roadster (SSR) may be the weirdest pickup ever made. The carmaker had elaborate marketing plans and anticipated success for the retro-styled machine.
But overt failure occurred instead. Less than 20 years since its debut, it’s rare to see an SSR on the road.
Among several cars in the early 2000s with retro styling, the SSR was inspired by Chevy’s late 1940s Advance design trucks, notably from 1947–1955.
Chevrolet built two SSR models
Originally built with a 5.3-liter V8 with 300 horsepower in 2002 as a 2003 model, the SSR was upgraded in 2005. The truck then featured a 390-horsepower 6.0-liter LS2 V8.
But SSR wasn’t just a pickup. It was also a hardtop convertible. The vehicle rode on a GM368 platform and featured a steel body retractable hardtop designed by Karmann and built by ASC.
The truck’s front fenders were made with deep draw stampings, a forming technique that hadn’t been used in decades. The production model was based on the SuperSport Roadster concept car shown at the 2000 Detroit Auto Show.
Chevrolet was so optimistic, an early-production SSR was granted pace car status for the 2003 Indianapolis 500. The SSR was priced at $42,000. But the public didn’t get it and it didn’t buy it. Only 9,000 were purchased in the truck’s 2003 debut year.
In the next three years, only a combined 15,000 more models sold. Much to Chevy’s chagrin, it recognized the failure and stopped the SSR’s production.
Yes, the SSR was a truck and it had impressive performance. But it didn’t have the versatility of a traditional pickup. It advanced from 0-60 miles per hour in 5.3 seconds and had a top speed of 126 mph. It weighed 4,711 pounds and had a lowly towing capacity of 2,500 pounds. It had only 22 1/2 cubic feet of cargo space.
Chevrolet, of course, has had its share of successful cars and trucks. But the SSR was one of the manufacturer’s blunders.
James Raia, a syndicated columnist in Sacramento, California, publishes a free weekly automotive podcast and electronic newsletter. Sign-ups are available on his website, www.theweeklydriver.com. He can be reached via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.