Tuesday, November 28, 2023


About 20 years ago, Chevrolet made a wacky pickup truck. It’s gone.

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.

The Chevrolet SSR was highly but less than 25,000 were made and the was discontinued in 2006.
The Chevrolet SSR was highly optimistic but less than 25,000 were made and then it was discontinued in 2006.

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: james@jamesraia.com.



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Billy Massey (@guest_133691)
2 years ago

I drooled all over them on the showroom floor. I love my ’04 R!

Rudy (@guest_133574)
2 years ago

I bought one and I always get people asking me what is it……its cool vehicle

Marcelo Gomes (@guest_133570)
2 years ago

And I like it so much. I wish I could have one.

Rudy (@guest_133571)
2 years ago
Reply to  Marcelo Gomes

I have a 2003 if you want to buy.

Ellen (@guest_133531)
2 years ago

My husband worked at the plant where this specialty truck was made. Initially it was intended to be a much lower-priced fun vehicle (and Gary’s right — never intended to function as a true pick-up truck), but there were issues with the design; they struggled to get the roof to fold the way they envisioned it would work, which drove up costs. Other production problems plagued things behind-the-scenes. While all this was happening, the marketing team was no doubt scrambling to figure out how this new version of their idea was going to be promoted. Originally it was supposed to compete (as a two-seater truck version) with the PT Cruiser but by the time they got production going, costs prohibited that competition…. A book could be written on all the things that went sideways with the SSR, but in the end some people got a cool little truck out of it 🙂 (And if memory serves… the first one off the line scored something like $225,000… wonder what that’s worth these days?)

David F. (@guest_133688)
2 years ago
Reply to  Ellen

Thanks for sharing, my friend has had one since new, uses it to promote her business.

Gary (@guest_133506)
2 years ago

It was not intended to be a “truck”. It was a niche sporty vehicle. The bed was carpeted.
They are now a collector car item and have been snapped up by car guys.
No different than a Prowler.

Bob p (@guest_133422)
2 years ago

GM’s Edsel! They made enough for their largest dealers to have two, I saw them at the Chevy dealer in Huntsville, AL, one on the show room floor the other outside the door where you had to see it when you went through the door. If the top was down as with most convertibles there was no cargo room, with it up there might be as much room as a midsized cars trunk. Totally useless, just as expensive as a corvette,not nearly as sporty, not nearly the resale value either.

Bob M (@guest_133507)
2 years ago
Reply to  Bob p

Was told it has a corvette engine.

Frank (@guest_133788)
2 years ago
Reply to  Bob p

Bob, you obviously don’t own an SSR, maybe you have never seen one up close. The top has its own storage compartment separate from the truck bed. There is no loss of cargo storage space with the top down. Resale value is as good or better than same year Corvette and resale prices are still rising. “Useless”? … not “totally”; mine puts a grin on my face every time I drive it … “priceless”. Oh, and article is wrong, top speed pegs at 140; plenty of SSR owners have visited that number.

Tom (@guest_133418)
2 years ago

See one once in a while. Towing capacity was a joke on owners.

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