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Part Truck, Part Sports Car: The Chevy SSR is an Icon of the 2000s

Ah yes, concept cars. We've all seen them—either online, in a magazine or maybe in person at an auto show. We've probably drooled over them and speculated about them endlessly over the decades.

And, all too many times, there comes the disappointment when a super-cool looking concept car becomes a watered down bummer by the time it reaches production.

Chevy SSR Yellow Fender

Yet there are some notable exceptions to this pattern with cars—with the occasional vehicle that seemingly goes right from the concept stage to the showroom with minimal changes. The Chevrolet SSR is certainly one of them.

History of the Chevy SSR

It was over 20 years ago when the SSR first appeared in the form of a concept car at the 2000 Detroit Auto Show. Riding on the retro wave created by cars like the Volkswagen New Beetle, Chrysler PT Cruiser and Ford Thunderbird the SSR looked back to the 1947-'52 Chevy truck for its styling inspiration.

2000 Chevy SSR Concept Front

SSR stood for "Super Sport Roadster" and rather the being a traditional pickup, it was a sleek hybrid of a sports car and truck with a power retractable top and a covered bed.

2000 Chevy SSR Concept Side View

Concept to Production

Despite being an extremely niche vehicle, the SSR was given the green light for production, and it arrived in showrooms looking very much like the concept.

Chevy SSR Yellow Rear View

Beneath its heavily styled, retro skin sat a version of the platform used by the Chevy Trailblazer SUV and a 5.3 liter V8 came standard making 300 hp mated to an automatic transmission.

Chevy SSR Cut-Away Illustration

Interestingly, at the time it was introduced there was no Camaro in the Chevy lineup so the SSR stood alongside the Corvette as one of Chevy's major performance vehicles.

Chevy SSR Rear View

That performance was much improved for the 2005 model year when the 5.3 V8 was replaced by the 6.0 liter LS2 engine, adding nearly 100 horsepower.

Chevy SSR V8 Engine Bay

Better yet, a six-speed manual transmission become available, with manual versions getting a slight bump in horsepower compared to their manual counterparts.

Chevy SSR Manual Transmission

With both a high starting price above $40,000 and a rather impractical layout, the SSR was never destined to be a sales hit. Approximately 24,000 examples were sold between for the 2004-2006 model years.

So Cal Speed Shop Chevy SSR

Production of the SSR ended in 2006 when GM closed its Lansing Craft Center factory in Michigan, which had been the production site of numerous speciality vehicles over the years including the infamous EV1 electric car.

Chevy SSR Dashboard

Modern Classic

Today SSRs usually sell for between $15,000 and $25,000 depending on the year and condition with the LS2-powered examples naturally commanding more.

Chevy SSR Power Top

Unlike most of the cars of the era, the SSR doesn't look dated thanks to its retro style and it's still striking when you see one in the wild.

Chevy SSR Blue Rear View

Whether or not you like the SSR's heavy retro look or form over function approach, it will surely go down in history as one of the most unique vehicles GM has ever built.

Chevy SSR Yellow Top View

And we wouldn't be surprised at all to see this retro machine earn appreciation as a bonafide classic in the coming years.

  • Of course the SSR wasn't the only notable performance machine to use this platform. The Saab 9-7X Aero is another unusual V8 machine from this era of GM's history. 
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