They say hindsight is always 20/20, and maybe that's why retro cars are constantly being foisted on the buying public. Today's Nice Price or Crack Pipe Chevy mixes both old and new, but is its price worth a second look?
A full 59% of you took one look and then went for the Pipe on yesterday's Mustang ute, as apparently the last pony-and-bed combo (made famous in the Godfather) had left a bad taste. Despite that loss, the Ranchstang (or Muschero, or whatever) raised a freak flag for many of you, and today we're going to keep that spirit alive with another pickup that brings both wackiness and extremely limited utility to the party.
The Chrysler PT Cruiser started the whole roundy-fender retro-car look back at at the end of the last century. Seeing its success, and having corralled the PT's dad, Bob Lutz, GM jumped on the retro bandwagon in 2003 with the SSR pickup. Those initial hardtop convertibles had GM's Vortec 5300 and was made available solely with a four-speed automatic transmission, a combo that managed to make a seemingly respectable 300-bhp. However, the body-on-frame SSR's gargantuan 4,760-lb curb weight meant that its performance with that drivetrain was ill matched to its looks.
By 2005, when this
rimshot slingshot yellow SSR made its way out of the Lansing Craft Centre, the 5.3-litre Vortec had been replaced by the 400-horse LS2, and a Tremec six speed was made available. This particular truck is so equipped and as such will acquit itself in a fashion a bit more in tune with its hot rod appearance.
Those hot rod looks are pretty polarizing and raise the question as to why GM decided to go with a pickup bodystyle while at the same time failing to engender the truck with the standard pickup functionalities of towing and load capacity. Whatever its merits, outside of an ancient Dodge Dakota, where else will you find a V8-powered convertible pickup?
If such a beast floats your boat, you'll want to steer clear of the pre-‘05s for both their lack of performance, and communist-bloc build quality. The late 1980s to the early Aughts (that's what we're calling them, right?) was a period when GM was making their interiors out of spider webs and the stolen dreams of crazy children. Craptacular doesn't begin to describe the rattletraps that the company was loosely screwing together, but by '05 things had at least gotten a little bit better. The black interior of this SSR shows little sign of wear, and if the footwells had been the resting place for a rain of dislodged plastic bits over the years, at least the selling dealership was kind enough to sweep them out.
Like many SSRs back in the day, this one was heavily optioned out, which probably drove its original sticker to near fifty grand. It rocks the gauge kit, running boards, chrome rims - 19" fronts, 20" rears - and while not shown or mentioned, it probably has the hard bags under the tonneau. The SSR was a halo vehicle for the Chevy brand, slotting in below the ‘Vette, and hence has every conceivable feature that the bow tie brigade could throw at it including A/C, power everything, and leather for where both your hands and butt go. On top of that is the top, which is hard and, unlike those Viagra warnings, it will go down whenever you want it to. A space between the seats and bed holds the top when it's dropped, keeping the lines clean and the tiny bed from being further encroached upon.
That top was a feature praised for its looks in contemporary tests of the SSR, as was its handling and performance. According to Automobile magazine, the 400-horse engine would push the massive truck to 60 in 5.3 seconds, and, at 13.8 seconds, it would do the quarter two-seconds faster than the earlier Vortec editions. They also thought the handling was up to snuff, but felt that overall execution was a bit lacking. This particular one has managed to put 62,919 miles under its belt, so any major issues will hopefully have been sorted out by now, and normal wear and tear shouldn't be a problem as almost everything is from the GM parts bin.
While it was not wildly popular when new, owing to its high price and limited audience, that only means that the SSR remains somewhat rare today. Only around 25,000 were built in total, and that includes the earlier 5.3s and the slushers. Unlike the comparably retro Plymouth Prowler, the 6.0 SSR isn't just referential in its looks, but it brings a pair of old-school balls along as well. That makes it not just a poseur but conceivably something that'd be fun to drive, and not just to be seen in.
And for you to be seen in this
dogsnot slingshot yellow example, you're gonna' need to grease the seller's palm to the tune of $25,900. Take a look around, these things are going for that and more, but that's not to say it's a bargain, after all, that's your job. So, get to work- is this backward-looking Chevy worth that kind of bank? Or, does that price make you want to treat this SSR like it has an STD?
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