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Chevrolet SSR
by Thomas Givens


You want to know what it feels like to be a movie star? Sell off all your assets, get rid of your stock portfolio, borrow on your home equity, and go out and buy yourself a Chevrolet SSR.

The SSR stands for Super Sports Roadster. What a vehicle. I had read about them and seen some pictures. Retro like the PT Cruiser, this beauty has the base of those Chevrolet Ĺ ton pickups back in the late 40's and early 50's. The grill on the SSR is fashioned on those. But thatís where the resemblance ends.

Whoever designed this work of art should get some sort of award. The SSR has a pickup bed with a cover which pops up at the click of a remote. It has a tailgate which lets down, and the storage area is about like that in most large automobiles, but it does have storage bins on both sides, called "side saddles," which will hold quite a lot.

The first SSR I saw was in the showroom of Beaty Chevrolet in Knoxville, Tennessee.

I was there getting my oil changed and was just killing time. I started talking to a salesman, and he was nice enough to show the SSR to me. Showed me the engine, the bed under the cover, and then the main part.

What was unique about this vehicle was the retractable hardtop. The salesman demonstrated this. You just put your foot on the brake and push a button on the console. Then you hear a noise behind you, which is the cover lifting. The top retracts and goes down into that back area. How they get the rear window glass in there is a mystery. Anyway, when the top is safely in its repository, you hear a little "ding ding," and off you can go.

You are now driving a two seat roadster.

When I first laid eyes on one of those beauties, I was the proud owner of a 1994 Chevrolet K-1500 4x4 pickup, which I bought new when I lived in Memphis. This was a custom pickup, customized by Dixie Trucks in Shreveport. The truck served me well and I probably would still have it, had it not been for the SSR. Well, I gave it to Beaty Chevrolet, for all practical purposes.

The SSR is in limited production -- there are only five in Knoxville. Thatís a market thing; Chevrolet realizes they have something going, and the dealers are applying what is described as a "market adjustment." That simply means they are getting more than the "sticker" price, and even with that they are flying off the showroom floor as soon as they are parked.

I was overwhelmed. I gave them my old pickup and drove off with a beautiful one painted "ricochet silver," as described by GM. This truck has a 327 cubic inch Vortec V-8 engine, rated at 300 hp. I think my SSR will move out, but haven't found the proper place to do that. It handles beautifully, but there is a drawback as I mentioned above (re: about being a movie star).

I can't go anywhere with my SSR without being mobbed.

I went down to Oxford, Mississippi, in February just after we bought the SSR, went to a furniture store, and all of the employees came out and crowded around. Then two city employees drove up -- in addition to a truckload of teenagers. I can't stop to buy gas. People holler at me on the interstate, wave, all sorts of stuff.

I dropped some clothes off at the cleaners recently, and a guy (who was stopped at a traffic light on the busy thoroughfare adjacent) rolled down his window and hollered, "What kind of vehicle is that?"

What could I tell him in the brief time I had? Obviously, owning a vehicle like this is exhausting.

Anybody want to buy a slightly used SSR?

Just kidding.

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Judge Tom Givens is a native Mississippi Deltan who now hangs his hat in Tennessee.
His memoirs are favorites at USADEEPSOUTH. Here are a few:

The Halfway Store
The Delta Theater
Memphis and the Delta
Whiskey, Chickens and Cherry Bombs



Read many more great stories listed on our USADS Articles pages.

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