Thursday, December 24, 2015

Chevrolet's Odd SSR Convertible Pickup Truck

What Were They Thinking when General Motors ordered into production the Chevrolet SSR (Super Sport Roadster, 2003-2006)?

True, pickup trucks had become a significant share of the vehicle market.  And yes, both Chevrolet and Ford had introduced sedan-derived pickups back in the 1950s (the El Camino and Ranchero, respectively).  But the SSR, although essentially similar, offered a few new twists.  First, it featured a retractable top, making it a convertible pickup.  Second, the styling was based on that of Chevrolet pickup trucks from around 1950 and not a current passenger car.

For more background on the SSR, its Wikipedia entry is here.

As it happened, the SSR was a sales flop.  One possible reason might have been that, unlike the heyday of the El Camino, pickup trucks had become quite civilized, much less rustic.  So the market for refined pickups having pleasant interiors was already taken.  Furthermore, the SSR didn't offer a lot of cargo carrying room.  And the convertible feature sold the message that the SSR was actually a frivolity.

The styling was interesting, basically well done considering the package stylists were handed.  A few quibbles are in the captions below.


These images show the top raised and retracted.  Front protection seems non-existent, though there must have been a bumper bar buried someplace.  Nevertheless, the hood would probably suffer damage in any but the most minor collision.  A stronger-looking impact panel would have given the SSR a more serious, practical, truck-like appearance.  The grille could be rearranged so that it still echoed 1950 Chevrolet trucks.

The same can be said regarding protection at the rear.  Here, the tailgate looks like it could easily be damaged.

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