Extensive helpings of heritage, technical innovation and striking design all work in an intricate recipe to create the all-new Chevy SSR, the world's first convertible sport pickup truck.
"No other manufacturer has a vehicle like SSR," said Brent Dewar, Chevrolet general manager. "We've combined the heritage of the 1947-1953 advanced design pickup with the latest in product and manufacturing technology to enhance the Chevrolet brand."
This convertible roadster/pickup features large, flared fenders, a sculpted hood and bold stance. The frame and chassis of the SSR are similar in design to Chevy's mid-size TrailBlazer family of sport utilities. All exterior panels are of stamped steel. Power comes from a new aluminum block version of GM's Vortec 5300 5.3L small-block V-8 and drives the rear wheels through a four-speed automatic transmission. Rounding out the sporty street machine appearance of the SSR are 19-inch front and 20-inch rear tires and wheels.
The most distinguishing feature of the all-new Chevrolet SSR is an ingenious power-retractable hardtop system that assures an open-air driving experience without compromising the vehicle's cargo carrying capacity.
Also called a "top stack," the retractable hardtop on the SSR is the first ever applied on a pickup-styled vehicle. It is the only system of its kind where the roof panels move independently to "stack" vertically behind the passenger compartment - a design that ensures quick operation and minimal stowage requirements.
A single button on the console transforms the SSR from an enclosed roadster to a convertible in 25 seconds, neatly tucking the roof panels rearward in waterfall fashion between the passenger compartment and pickup bed. The unique vertical storage system is an important enabler for the vehicle's ability to emulate the utility of a pickup - even with the top down, the SSR's bed capacity remains unchanged.
The interior theme is Chevrolet's twin cockpit approach, with a horizontal cross-car bar and body-colored accents bringing much of the vehicle's exterior theme to the interior. The billet aluminum look used on elements of the exterior continues on the door trim and instrument panel bezels. The clean instrument panel features gauges with bold graphics, audio controls hidden behind a moveable panel and a simple three-dial design for all climate controls.
The striking flared fenders linking the 2003 Chevrolet SSR to its innovative pickup past are the result of a process that very appropriately combines a contemporary forming technology with one used to produce the original 1947-1953 Advanced Design Chevy lineup of trucks - the inspiration for the SSR.
The stamping process used to produce the dramatic fenders and quarter panels is unique - an inverted toggle draw - that is really a marriage between old and new: the original toggle draw stamping process and the more recent stretch draw concept. Without new Grade 5 deep-draw quality steels, the material wouldn't be forgiving enough to be drawn to those depths without splitting.
The SSR incorporates a body-on-frame construction - basically an upper steel unibody mounted on a frame. Fully hydroformed steel side rails provide the boxed frame with strength and stiffness, relatively low weight, and precise quality. The laser-cut, dimensional accuracy of the holes for suspension attachments permit maximum control of suspension components during manufacturing, providing consistent tuning for every vehicle built. A total of seven cross members, more than the traditional four or six, boost structural strength for ride quality, handling control, and reduced noise and vibration.
The upper unibody helps support the structure for the SSR's retractable roof system; it minimizes the loss of structure typically associated with convertibles and open-top vehicles by augmenting the stiffness of the entire vehicle with special cross members.
The rich heritage of the Chevy SSR is much more than skin deep. A peek under the hood reveals the latest version of the small block Chevy V-8 that's been the legendary leader of the street cruiser pack since 1955.
Chevy's new roadster is powered by an all-aluminum Vortec 5300 V-8. It's the latest iteration of Chevy's small block V-8 engine that's been the performance benchmark ever since it debuted October 28, 1954, in the '55 Chevrolet Bel Air.
The use of cast aluminum 319-T7 alloy reduces the overall weight of the engine by 100 pounds compared to the cast iron version. The engine capitalizes on the lower mass and superior thermal efficiency of aluminum, enhancing both performance and fuel efficiency over its proven cast-iron counterpart.
Aluminum's improved heat rejection also results in cleaner emissions from faster catalytic converter "light off," faster heater core warm-up for vehicle occupants, and cooler piston and oil temperatures for improved durability.
The new quiet-profile pistons are polymer-coated to reduce cold scuffing and engine noise. Polymer-coated pistons, long a mainstay in luxury car engines, enable tighter bore clearances, provide enduring wear surfaces between pistons and cylinder walls, and further reduce piston motion.
Just as the small block V-8 provides a heritage of power, the SSR's transmission is a proven performer. It's GM's Hydra-Matic 4L60-E, an electronically controlled, four-speed rear-wheel-drive, automatic overdrive transmission with a torque converter clutch.
The electronic controls are calibrated to give the dependability of a pickup and the performance of a super sport vehicle.
With its boulevard-cruiser ride and refined roadster handling, the all-new Chevrolet SSR's road manners are a perfect complement to its heritage and unique sporty truck design.
The SSR's vertical stiffness (vertical bend in the total structure), targeted at 17.5 Hertz (Hz), exceeds that of most other convertibles, whose ratings can be as low as 9 or 12 Hz. Torsional frequency with the top up is approximately 16 Hz; with the top down, it is approximately 13.8 Hz. These ratings are highly competitive with those of unibody construction convertibles.
The 116-inch (2,946-mm) wheelbase is optimized to maintain truck functionality and to offer exceptional passenger room, yet it also allows for a tight turning radius generally associated with a smaller-sized vehicle.
In another innovation, the battery is relocated to the rear, helping to create a better overall weight distribution, while preserving the front styling. The rear-mounted battery emulates what "street rodders" have done for years and - since it is located away from the heat of the engine - the battery lasts longer.
A world-class independent front double-A arm/five-link live axle rear suspension is specifically tailored and tuned for the SSR's ride and handling characteristics, while providing robustness and durability for on-road truck use.
The front suspension incorporates upper and lower control arms for superior kinematics, damping, and stability, which - when combined with hydraulically assisted rack-and-pinion steering - provide smooth, precise control.
The rear suspension includes monotube shock absorbers for superior damping, shock absorber mountings outboard of the frame to enhance body and wheel control, steel coil springs for consistent ride height, and a microcellular urethane auxiliary spring for enhanced ride comfort and stability in fully loaded conditions.
Standard electronic traction control, a Torsen differential, and 20-inch tires on the rear axle ensure the Vortec 5300 V-8's great power getting to the ground with exceptional traction and control.
The Torsen differential, a true performance car proven system, works seamlessly with the traction assist to maximize performance in driving maneuvers, such as aggressive acceleration and cornering, and over differing road conditions. It is a close relative to the rear differential developed for the Chevrolet Camaro and the technology of choice for numerous racing teams.
Four-wheel disc brakes with four-wheel ABS and Dynamic Rear Proportioning provide outstanding stopping performance and world-class levels of brake "feel," wear resistance and low noise.
The brakes are sized to the SSR's weight, trailering and cargo-carrying capabilities. Their non-asbestos organic compound lining extends brake life to 40,000 miles, depending on how the vehicle is used and at what payload.
Chevrolet SSR features Goodyear Eagle RS-A (Rally Sport-Asymmetric) all-season performance tires: P255/45R19 for the front and P295/40R20 for the rear.
A large 25-gallon fuel tank provides an extensive driving range between fill-ups.
Source: Chevrolet press