It’s a convertible pickup muscle car with retro styling

Chevrolet has made some interesting things over its 100 years, but none compete with the 2003-2006 SSR. This contraption defied classification and spawned during a troubled time during “Old GM’s” heyday and right before its collapse in 2009. The SSR is a hardtop convertible pickup with a semi-permanent tonneau cover over its composite bed, powered by a small-block V-8 and wrapped in retro styling that harks back to the late 1940s Advance design pickups. Oh, and it shares its hydro-formed ladder frame and suspension system with the Chevy Trailblazer.

On the inside, the SSR was a hodgepodge of mid-2000s GM infamy. Green digital readouts, a chunky steering wheel, a hundred-button stereo face, and odd proportion everywhere. But for all its weirdness, the SSR’s interior had some redeeming qualities. The center console and door panels featured body-colored paint; there were aluminum bits to brighten things up, and heated seats.

The small-block V-8 was the third-generation 5.3-liter making 300 horsepower and 335 pound-feet of torque. A four-speed automatic was the only choice. Then for its final year in 2006, Chevy dropped in the 390-horsepower 6.0-liter V-8 with 405 pound-feet of torque. The extra power really woke up the SSR, but the best improvement was the available six-speed manual transmission. Power was only sent to the rear wheels.

Despite its quirks, the SSR’s greatest downfall was its price. In 2003 it started at $41,995 and could be optioned up to $47,000. By 2006, the base price had grown to $43,180 and its topped out around $50,000. That was rather expensive for the time, especially considering the competition that shared that price bracket.

Still, the Chevy SSR was a unicorn that will forever lurk in the halls of GM oddities. Give it 40 years, and these things will command big money on the auction block. For now, you’ll just catch glares and stares as you drive the SSR down the road.

References

Chevrolet SSR

2003 Chevrolet SSR Exterior
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Chevrolet SSR

Read our full review on the 2003 Chevrolet SSR.

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