Manufactured from 2003 to 2006, the Cherolet SSR was based on the Chevrolet TrailBlaxerEXT’s Platform. Chevy gave the SSR a retro design with a retractable steel hardtop, in all actuality, a convertible pickup truck. It was first introduced to the American public in a 60 second TV spot featuring the song “Magic Carpet Ride” by Steppenwolf.
The concept car was introduced at the 2000 Detroit Auto Show and a prototype was featured as the pace car for the 2003 Inidianapolis 500 auto race.
The Vortec 5300 engine, a 5.3 Liter 300 horsepower V8 was used in both the 2003 and 2004 models but the performance was less than desirable. To correct this issue, General Motors opted to switch to the same engine being used for the C6 Corvette and the Pontiac GTO for the 2005 models. An optional six speed manual transmission was also included in 2005.
Sales of the Chevy SSR were below expectations from the outset and only 9000 units were moved in the first year of production. Because of the the lackluster sales in that first year, General Motors scaled back production and in November of 2005 announced that it would permanently close the Lansing factory where the SSR was made and the model was retired.
The SSR was a classically designed vehicle that GM hoped would be one of its best movers. Unfortunately, for reasons never clearly understood, the convertible pickup never performed up to expectations. However, GM took the SSR back to the design table and has made significant changes to the engine and interior “extras” and plans to bring the retro truck back in time for the 2009 model year.