How many convertible roof pickup trucks can you name? This question will likely earn you a smile and a “That’s a good one!”. In fact, such creatures did exist: from the 1920s Ford Model T open air pickup, to the 1989 Dodge Dakota convertible, and to the 2003 Chevrolet Super Sport Roadster (SSR). Lets focus on the most recent specimen.
You will never see this Roadster hauling plywood and center blocks from the local hardware store, but it does have a small (approx. 4′ x 4′) tonneau covered bed in the back. GM really let its hair blow in the wind, when they brought a very cool retro-modern styled SSR concept to the 2000 Detroit auto show. They got such a strong favorable reaction from the media and the public, that they put the concept into reality for the 2003 model year.
The show stopping styling made it to production virtually unchanged, but the 6.0 liter LS2 small block did not make the initial cut. The 2003 and 2004 models used the ubiquitous 5.3 liter Vortec V8 mated to a 4 speed automatic and thus under-delivered at stop light launch attempts. The styling screamed hot rod, but the internals did not deliver. It all improved for the last two model years.
The Corvette sourced LS2 from the Detroit concept came back and brought a manual 6 speed with it. The 2005 motor made an honest 390 hp, and it was further tuned to 395 hp or 400 hp in 2006 for automatic and manual equipped trucks respectively. This really woke up the SSR’s performance, although it was still too heavy to keep up with an actual Corvette in the straight line or in the twisties. Nonetheless, it had a power retractable hardtop that seamlessly hid between the seats and the bed, and it could take you on a long distance cruise in supreme comfort.
It’s clear that the more powerful versions are more desirable, but all SSRs make a sweet V8 rumble out of dual chrome exhaust tips and turn heads everywhere they go.
There are very detailed production records broken down by options and colors (link). The vast majority of SSRs went to United States and just a few were directed to Canada. There were 14,092 SSRs produced with the Vortec motor. Chevrolet had a hard time selling these, so they made the aforementioned powertrain upgrades for 2005/2006 years. There were a total 10,088 of LS2 examples.
If you break it down further, the 6 speed manual examples are quite rare at 2,213 units. There are also interesting exterior color choices an other options to consider. Early roadsters had a rare “ultra violet” exterior, and the final year brought a multitude of factory two-tone exterior combinations with extremely rare numbers. For example, there are just 5 factory “Ricochet Silver over Aqua Blur” trucks.
Checking the used car listings – it is relatively easy to find low mileage, rare color and generally pristine examples. Original MSRP were in the low $40K and many top notch examples are asking almost as much now. There are also many high mileage examples that are asking from $15K to $20K, so there is something for different tastes and budgets. The Super Sport Roadster is a very unique vehicle and it’s appeal is likely to remain strong and universal for all time.
Since originality is important for collectibility – please be on the lookout for exterior paint modifications or resprays as well as powertrain and suspension upgrades. Purchasing a pristine and original or just a well taken care of SSR is sure to be a rewarding experience no matter how you look at it. SSR overview.
Andre Smirnov is a Software Engineer by trade and a life-long automotive enthusiast. On the weekends – you may find him at a car show, an auction, watching a race, or tinkering in the garage. When not working or spending time with the family – he often scours the internet and other media for various automotive, mechanical, and computer related information.