The Chevy SSR Pickup Deserves More Recognition

In the early 2000s, several car manufacturers took a leap of faith and tried to recreate some older styles in their retro throwback cars. We see older styles reflected in a handful of vehicles from early on in the century, and cars like the iconic Chevy SSR were born. The SSR was a round-body pickup truck that had similar styling to other retro cars developed by Chevy at the time. Although these nostalgia-inducing vehicles had a lot of novelty, they weren’t as popular as companies would have hoped.

A Super Sport roadster

The Chevy SSR, short for Super Sport Roadster, was a vehicle, unlike most anything we had seen before. From the front, it looked just like a novelty car. From the side or back, you could see a functional truck bed. What made the SSR even funkier was that it was also a convertible, which as a pickup truck is pretty odd, but that isn’t all. It wasn’t just a convertible, but it was a hard-top convertible.

Unfortunately, this isn’t something we see very often in pickup trucks these days, and the SSR was only in production from 2003 – 2006, meaning production was pretty limited.

A Chevy SSR convertible pickup truck on display
The Chevrolet SSR pickup | David Cooper/Toronto Star via Getty Images

The attention the Chevy SSR deserved

Regardless of the unusual styling and appearance, there was a lot to love about the Chevy SSR. Under the hood, you could find either a 5.3-liter V8 or a 6.0-liter V8 engine and the choice between a manual transmission or a 4-speed automatic transmission. To help boost sales, the team at Chevy used the odd-looking pickup as a pace car for the Indianapolis 500 in 2003.

Unfortunately, it didn’t do much to rescue the car’s reception. Regardless of many marketing attempts, the SSR sales wouldn’t keep up with production, and it seemed that no one could appreciate the truck for what it was.

A blue 2003 Chevrolet SSR in the mountains.
2003 Chevrolet SSR | Chevrolet

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Surprising performance

When it comes to pickup trucks, we expect a lot of practicality, but the Chevy SSR also provided a decent amount of power for its time. The small V8 engine used in earlier model years provided the truck with a respectable 300 hp. It was enough to catapult the smooth ride from 0 – 60 mph in 7.7 seconds and gave it a quarter-mile time of 15.9 seconds, which wasn’t incredibly quick but decent for a pickup truck.

The late models featured the well-loved 390-hp LS2 from the brand’s performance sports car, the C8 Corvette. Sharing an engine with the brand’s performance vehicle still did very little to boost sales.

The front end of the Chevrolet SSR | William Thomas Cain

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By 2006, just a few years into production, the marketing team just couldn’t figure out how to get people to fall in love with the weird-looking, capable pickup truck. It was cut from production with no future plans to return the car, and it would just become a rare collector’s item for true retro car fanatics. Regardless of its lack of positive reception, the Chevy SSR was still an incredibly unique and very cool vehicle.