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SUPER SPORT ROADSTER

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Sun, May 15, 2005

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

SUPER SPORT ROADSTER By HAROLD OSMER

Chevrolet's Super Sport Roadster has been around for a couple of years now but most folks aren't sure what to think of it. Where does it fit into the car market? Or is it a truck? The old-timey styling sure makes the SSR stand out, but just what is this thing? Well, this thing is fast. This thing is fun. This thing is a head-turner to beat all head-turners. But I'll call it a truck to keep things simple.

In response to owner comments, the 2005 SSR comes standard with a 6-liter, 390 hp aluminum V8 under the round hood. Coupled to a four-speed overdrive automatic or optional six-speed Tremec transmission, the SSR is responsive enough for any snappy street driving anyone can safely do. A nifty one-touch system stores and retrieves a retractible hardtop in a matter of seconds, converting the SSR to and from topless condition with ease.

The LA Car tester came with aqua blue metallic paint. Loosely translated, that means it can be blue, green, purple, or any variation therein, depending upon available lighting. We've seen red and yellow SSRs in commercials and showrooms and prefer it this way. Anything that encourages the police to overlook our driving suits us just fine.

Behaving yourself in a vehicle as willing to jump up and be noticed as an SSR is easier than one might think, especially with the 6-speed, which unto itself makes a driver more aware of increasing speed than an automatic does. The SSR delivers its power smoothly through a light clutch and effortless shifting. Braking occurs as directed and, if you're not afraid to turn the wheel, steering happens in predictable ways. For as spirited a truck as this is, the ride is well within long-range comfort levels.

Interior space is ample for two adults. That's it. Just the two of you. Getting in is a simple matter, with the seats at or about hip height for most folks. The power adjustable seats allow unlimited positions and can accommodate drivers of virtually any size. Where you must wedge into a Corvette, you slide into an SSR. When you climb out of a Corvette, you simply step out of the SSR. There is more head and shoulder room with the SSR. The low-slung Corvette has the driver and passenger sitting with their legs straight forward while the taller riding SSR allows for a more natural, bent-kneed position and greater road visibility.

For more one on ones, we rolled out a 1951 Chevy truck and did some side-by-eaching. This particular '51 has been modified with a late model front clip and 350ci engine with automatic overdrive. We thought that the addition of disk brakes, power steering, and 310hp would make a fair comparison for the SSR. No way. While the SSR borrows some design characteristics from its predecessor, Chevrolet's application of modern technology easily outweighs the novelty of a vintage work truck - even a heavily modified, fast, cool version.

Then again, the SSR is not a truck in the classic sense. Yes, it has more of a bed than a trunk, but it's a carpeted, detailed bed. While capable of carrying a month's worth of baggage in relative luxury, you'd never get a 4x8 sheet of plywood into it. You can remove and store the hard bed cover, but it's a cumbersome process for two people and not something the average owner would want to do more than once. And the plywood still wouldn't fit. So what's the bottom line? What role does the SSR fill? Well, if we had a fourth space in the garage, how about my house? This is a neat truck. Fun and easy to handle, eye catching, smooth and responsive at all ends of the driving spectrum. The electronic readout says the test vehicle has gotten 16.8 miles per gallon over 6500 miles at the hands (and right feet) of multiple drivers. Overdrive and open highways are wonderful partners.

If you need a work truck, this is not for you. If you need more than two seats, this is not for you. But if you are looking for an American sports car in the $40,000 range, you'd be hard pressed to find a better bargain. Yes, a new Corvette can be had for the same money, but why strain your back getting in and out of your new car when you can have similar performance with greater comfort? And, yes, you can maybe find a 1951 pickup for stylish Home Depot runs, but how many pieces of plywood did you and your sweety need for that drive up the coast, to Yellowstone, or Dallas? Chevrolet expects the SSR to draw people into their showrooms where they can gawk awhile before buying something on the more practical side. Limited production numbers help explain why we don't see too many on the road. This may also lead to a collector market in future years. But it'll be tough to buy an SSR and not pile the miles up. The 2005 Chevrolet Super Sport Roadster is a tall sports car, a daily driver hot rod, and a clear winner for those not afraid to turn a few heads en route to anywhere.

SIDEBAR COMMENT

The new Chevy SSR is a muscle truck that merges power with style. With 390 horses, this truck is a true beast that craves to be unleashed on the highway. In addition to its stylish lines, the SSR has a 30 second down, retractable hardtop for quick fun under the sun. The retro look of this truck makes it stand out on the road. There's plenty of "wow" expressions from people as you drive by - everybody wants to hop in with you as you cruise. Taking this monster out is a dream for me. Coming from a muscle car background, it feels good to get behind a powerhouse vehicle like this. One of the first things you'll notice about this truck is the brute horsepower and enough torque to snap your head off as you shift the Tremec T-56 six speed transmission. Getting on the freeway was all about throwing the hammer down. The power of this machine is amazing. Instantly getting up to 65 mph, the SSR wants more, with an endless amount of energy. Where most vehicles top out, the SSR was barley a touch of the accelerator to over take any other cars on the road. The handling of this vehicle is also noteworthy. Turning in and out of traffic on the streets, and driving through the canyons was ease. This thing rates a 9 out of 10 on a cool scale. Taking this hot, sexy roadster down any street with the roar of this beast's engine, and all heads turn. On the other hand, the SSR rates a two out of 10 on the practicality scale. With only two seats, the SSR makes out better as your second or third car. And with only a 13/20 city/highway mpg rating, this is not your everyday driver. And being not really a car or a truck, the practicality factor does comes into play - especially with a price tag of $47,500.00. - Tommy Grafman For more information on the Chevrolet SSR, go to www.chevrolet.com/ssr.

SPECIFICATIONS

Name of vehicle: Chevrolet SSR Super Sport Roadster Price: Base $42,430; $47,515 as tested Engine type: LS-2 6.0-liter deep-skirted aluminum block OHV V8 Horsepower: 390 @ 5400 rpm Torque: 405 lb.-ft @ 4400 rpm Drive configuration: Front engine / rear-wheel drive Transmission type: Standard heavy-duty Hydra-Matic electronically controlled four-speed automatic that includes 8.6-in. Torsen torque-sensing rear differential Optional Tremec T-56 close-ratio six-speed manual that includes 9.5-in. Eaton heavy-duty rear Suspension: Front: Double A-arm, with upper and lower A-arms and modular coil-over-shock design Rear: five-link solid axle, with two upper and two lower links, a transverse link (or track bar), steel coil springs and specifically tuned Bilstein shock absorbers Wheels and tires: Front: 19 x 8 aluminum, P255/45R19 Goodyear Rear: 20 x 10 aluminum, P295/40R20 Goodyear Brakes: Front: 12-inch discs with ABS Rear: 12.8-inch vented discs with ABS Electronic Traction Control: switch-activated (automatic transmission only) Overall length: 191.4 inches Overall width: 78.6 inches Overall height: 64.2 inches Curb weight (pounds): 4760 EPA mileage estimates City/ Highway: 13/20 Top Speed, mph: 198 0-60 mph: 5.29 seconds (manual) 5.49 seconds (automatic)

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