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An anomaly in the automotive world, the Chevrolet SSR (Super Sport Roadster) convertible combined the look of a customized 1950s pickup with the rear-wheel-drive powertrain of a sports car. Based on General Motors' midsize SUV platform, the SSR had a high seating position and a trucklike ride. Yet this muscular Chevy truck was no workhorse. It had just two seats, a narrow pickup bed with a tonneau cover and a meager towing capacity. Other packaging and ergonomic compromises made it less than ideal as primary transportation.
What the Chevrolet SSR did offer was a healthy dose of individuality. It looked like nothing else on the road and was a pure automotive style statement. Between the '40s-style fat fenders, the low hood and its dominant rear proportions (greatly enhanced by the hard bed cover), this Chevy looks as speed-crazed as any muscle car from the '60s or '70s. Its two-piece power-retractable hardtop stowed vertically between the seats and the rear storage bed, thus allowing open-air motoring. For a car enthusiast looking to fill some extra space in his garage with something that combines postwar cruiser image with modern-day hardware and reliability, the SSR could be a fun choice.
However, the SSR was plagued by issues throughout its four-year lifespan, including build quality problems, so-so performance of earlier models due to the smaller V8's struggle with the excessive curb weight, and a breathtaking sticker price. Subsequently, it was discontinued after 2006. Chevy sold only about 25,000 SSRs, which makes used examples a rare find.
Used Chevrolet SSR Models
The Chevrolet SSR is a two-passenger convertible truck that was produced in a single generation from late 2003 through 2006. Buyers interested in a used SSR should make note of a few changes that occurred during its production. For its first two years, the SSR came with a 5.3-liter, 300-horsepower V8 that struggled to get the 4,700-pound SSR moving with any authority. The 6.0-liter unit installed in 2005 made 390 hp and was a better match to move the heavy Chevy. Interior assembly quality improved somewhat during the 2005 model year, which also was the first year the six-speed manual transmission became available.
There was only one trim level. Standard features included a power-operated convertible hardtop, leather upholstery, power accessories, keyless entry and cruise control. An upgraded audio system, heated seats and auto-dimming mirrors were optional. Further customization could be had thanks to some strictly cosmetic options such as color-keyed bed strips, chrome interior and exterior trim, chrome wheels and two-tone paint.
In terms of safety, the Chevrolet SSR was modestly equipped. Front and side torso airbags were standard, but curtain airbags were not available due to the folding roof. Traction control and antilock brakes were standard, but stability control was unavailable. Every SSR came with 19-inch wheels up front and 20-inch wheels in back.
In reviews, our editors commented that the Chevy SSR possessed an agreeable combination of handling, ride and performance. The suspension was reasonably capable of keeping body roll under control and the exhaust note would do an old Chevelle SS proud. On the downside, the vehicle wasn't particularly useful for daily use, and some of the interior materials were a bit cheap-looking.