We’ve picked three past Chevrolet truck concepts we wish it had made. And we also picked the one concept that it actually built, which we wish it hadn’t. See if you agree or not about these four truck concepts.
2003 Cheyenne concept
When it debuted at the 2003 Detroit Auto Show, the unexpected Chevrolet Cheyenne concept truck took its top awards. Most Significant Design Concept, Best Concept Interior Design, Best Concept Exterior Design, and Best of Show. With all of those accolades, you would expect that GM would rush out to get the Cheyenne into production ASAP. But as we’ve seen with a long line of incredible concepts right up to today, nothing came of it. The Chevrolet truck designer’s original mandate was to show the next step in full-size truck design. It wanted a statement about the Chevy truck brand. Some of the details we take for granted like tie downs integrated into the bed and LED lighting. Why it never came to fruition we’ll never know.
1989 XT-2 El Camino concept
We’ve said it a million times, GM works in mysterious ways. This is the XT-2 concept from 1989, immediately following Chevrolet killing the El Camino at the end of 1987. In conjunction with the PPG Racing Series, GM created this concept as the series’ pace car. It featured a corvette suspension front and rear and was based around Camaro F-body architecture. A 4.5-liter V6 engine with tuned port injection was backed by a six-speed manual transmission. Why no V8 is a mystery, especially because this was an actual pace car, not some delicate concept car. The design holds up exceeding well, as has the concept of a personal truck with passenger car qualities. If Chevy would have hung in there a little longer with the El Camino idea, and incorporated as much as it could from the XT-2, there might be El Caminos roaming the highways and byways of America today.
2000 Silverado SST concept
A sport truck concept from the height of that era, the 2000 Silverado concept incorporated a lot of hot rod and custom car tricks. It belied its stock 1999 Silverado roots. Besides the chopped top, the bed rails were heightened to give the profile a stronger, and more wedge-like look. It featured an independent Corvette independent rear suspension. There were also rack and pinion steering and four-wheel disc brakes. Those wheel openings are enhanced with slightly widened fender bubbles. And those smooth bumpers incorporate air intakes located low and at the ends. These carried over to the rear. The concept was auctioned off in 2017 as a non-street legal vehicle. The lower top, wedge profile, and slicked-off exterior would have been welcome additions to the Silverado line. Unfortunately, only those front air intakes ever made it into limited production.
2000 SSR concept
In spite of its obvious concept car-only styling, the SSR actually made it to production. For all of the incredible concepts that have come out of GM, it made this one. Though it was an opportunity to drive something very similar to a show car, too many wrong decisions killed it right from the start. Based on Trailblazer architecture, it offered nothing to make it what it seemed: a performance truck. Initially offered only with a 5.3-liter V8 with 300 hp, hooked to a four-speed automatic. With a price of $40,000, for a truck that looked performance but wasn’t, couldn’t hold much cargo, could only accommodate two passengers and had milquetoast performance, it found few buyers. Though improved with a 6.0-liter LS2 V8 a couple of years after its introduction in 2003, that never seemed to help much. The Pontiac Fierro met the same bitter end. Coming out with mediocre performance and features, it spent the rest of its life with improvements every year. Then the last year of production finally ends with what it should have been in its first year. That’s GM for you.