By Ron Amadon
This morning I launch a new, occasional feature of some of the most fun vehicles tested over the past dozen years or so that I have been at this. All of them had to have been great fun to drive, and that certainly was the case with this lead off trucklet, the very retro Chevy SSR. But would blasé New Yorker’s like it? Read on. This was the road test of the first of two that I drove.
NEW YORK — We subjected Chevy’s retro convertible to a test not given any other test vehicle – none, nada, zilch.
We figured that since the SSR had been out for a while, and slyly featured in lots of Chevy ads, it would be ignored on a cross town excursion from the west side of New York City to the east side and back again, then on to the Lincoln Tunnel. We were as wrong as Harry Frazee was when the Red Sox owner sold Babe Ruth to the Yankees.
Construction put us right down Broadway, and the “Redline Red” SSR was an instant hit. People pointed, heads turned and everyone smiled, as if Rudy Giuliani were sharing the two-seater drop top with Brittany Spears in a bikini.
While we collected our bags at a hotel in the fashionable Murray Hill neighborhood, a crowd materialized on 39th Street around the SSR. The most commonly asked question? “What is it?”
It is a convertible, a truck, a bit of a car, and just simply too much fun to drive. Turn off the stereo and listen to the truly wonderful American symphony that the sweet 5.3 liter, 300-horsepower V8 makes through the dual exhausts. This is what you need!!!
The power adjustable leather buckets were most comfortable on the drive down I-95 to Maryland. We loved the retro style instruments, the big fat steering wheel, and the grand view over the hood. Yes, the structure can shimmy and shake over certain bumps. Yes, it’s expensive – $43,910 in our test model (with a few options – including a good Bose stereo).
But stop for a minute and put down the power top, which folds neatly into the space between the interior and the pickup bed out back, and you have a first class American hot rod. We can think of no other description for the SSR. Plus, hot rods are always fun to drive.
And the SSR, while maybe a bit down on power (0-60 in about 7 secs.), is just plain fun. It will be built in limited quantities of only about 15,000 this year, so you probably won’t see too many going the other way.
We say hurrah for Chevy for having the guts to go ahead with what once was a show truck/car/hot rod. We need more vehicles like the SSR and more manufacturers willing to go out on a bit of a limb. The “Super Sport Roadster” is just that!
(PS Not that anyone asked, but I still love New York!)
Post Script. The SSR proved to be a slow seller for GM and production was shut down in March of 2006. Collectors still march then out when Old Man Winter goes away and it is not unusual to see them on the highway these many years later. While the red one is reviewed in the article, the pictures are of a second SSR in, well shall I say, brilliant YELLLOW!