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Nashville, Ind. — Even though you travel the Bill Monroe Memorial Highway to get here, this Nashville’s reputation has little to do with “pickin’ and grinnin’.” Driving Chevy’s SSR (for Super Sport Roadster) through this artists’ colony seems appropriate, though, for while it may or may not be a work of art, it is a vehicle for those who want to be noticed.
“It’s not as if we figured General Motors needed a two-door convertible V-8 pickup truck to fill a market niche,” noted Bob Walczyk, SSR marketing & product manager. We agreed, then queried him on who is the customer for this vehicle. “We’re rather excited to find out ourselves,” was his reply. “We think the demographics will be similar to the Corvette’s, but those folks would be more discerning on ride and handling.” Walczak is sure that these 45-to-50-year-old males with a $90-95,000 household income “aren’t the Lexus type.” But given the SSR’s $41,995 base price they are in Lexus territory.
Concept to reality
First a little background on how the SSR got to be, period. Back in 1999, General Motors styling director Wayne Cherry thought it was time for a Chevrolet truck to carry a “heritage design.” Retro-styled cars, both concept and production, previously had been the norm at GM. Ed Welburn, GM Design’s executive director of body-on-frame architectures, headed the development process because its focus was a truck. After considering four “modern interpretations” of past Chevy designs, Welburn and his crew decided to mimic 1947-52’s “Advanced Design” pickups with one major addition, a retractable hardtop. That idea came from one of the passed-over designs, which “included an open-air cab,” according to Welburn. “We were intrigued by the more contemporary and fun attributes of that type of vehicle, so the idea of a pickup truck that was also a modern convertible roadster held great promise.”