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Press Pass 2004

2004 SSR: Chevy's Hot-rod Pickup
By Chevrolet Communications; photos by Chevrolet Communications
Dec 26, 2003, 05:33 PST
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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. "And no one has this much fun and function in one package. 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.



Innovative retractable hardtop 

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.



Distinctive interior

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.



Precision formed chassis

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.


Chevy's 4.8 liter V8 with electronic throttle control


Powertrain with a legend

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.



A well-mannered ride

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.



Uniquely modified suspension system

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.



SSR Signature Series

The first 25 saleable SSRs are being used in a unique marketing launch program. Both the vehicles and the program carry the name "Signature Series." They are being used in a wide variety of high-profile launch activities around the country throughout the 2003 calendar year. Many will be part of themed events created specifically around the SSR. Each vehicle will embark on a unique journey, and along the way, Chevrolet representatives will collect memorabilia, photographs, autographs, news clippings and other keepsakes that connect the vehicle directly to its journey. These collectibles will create a "pedigree" specific to each SSR, and will be placed in a special scrapbook that will be auctioned off with each vehicle once its pedigree has been established. Specific details will be provided at a later date.  


A comprehensive program of regular production options and accessories are available for the 2003 SSR, with additional accessories being added in subsequent model years.






Chevrolet Accessories and Chevy SSR offer consumers endless opportunities to personalize their vehicles to fit their lifestyles. With various accessory packages, Chevrolet Accessories enhance the flexibility and look of the SSR, which has attracted the attention of automotive enthusiasts since it first appeared on the show circuit.


Over the next four years, the SSR will offer consumers nearly 50 accessories to personalize the vehicle. A few examples include a cargo-area speaker system, head and taillamp treatments, power remote cargo cover and engine beautification packages.


“We’ve worked closely with the SSR vehicle development team to ensure the accessories complement the SSR design and functionality, and appeal to its market segment,” said Nancy Philippart, GM Service and Parts Operations (SPO) executive director – GM Accessories Business Channel. “From the outset, the GM Design Center has been involved in all accessory designs and has ensured the accessories not only fit properly and look right, but also truly enhance the vehicle’s image.”


Creative customization accessories

The auxiliary gauge package consists of a cluster of three gauges – a voltmeter, instantaneous fuel consumption, and a transmission oil temperature gauge – with a satin chrome appearance. This package is seamlessly integrated and ergonomically positioned into the space between the console and lower instrument panel.


For customers who seek more storage, locking and form-fitted integrated side-saddle storage boxes are available. The ebony-finished storage boxes attach to the floor and side tracks of the vehicle and incorporate a highly durable exterior with a smooth-finished, easy-to-clean interior. The interior compartment for each box is approximately 12-inches deep, 40-inches long and 9-inches wide (305-mm deep, 1016-mm long and 229-mm wide). The storage box secures everything from tools and trailer hitch inserts to fishing equipment, car waxes and polishes.


The cargo netting package is another handy addition to help secure items that would otherwise slide around in the cargo area. The package includes a cross bar positioned between the upper rails, combined with cargo netting that attaches to the tailgate and four tie-down rings. The netting package is completely adjustable to the length of the cargo area.


Not just for appearance, integrated running boards provide additional protection against stone chips and scratches to the front surfaces of the SSR’s wide-flared rear fenders. The running boards have a satin chrome appearance, incorporate a non-slip surface and attach directly to the vehicle frame.


The key to the accessory offering is a track system integrated into the cargo area of the SSR. The system consists of four tracks that enable easy and configurable application of current and future SSR accessory items.


“Creative, intuitive accessories that evoke emotion are what’s going to keep the SSR fresh throughout its lifecycle. The accessory program is a key aspect behind the overall strategy of the vehicle,” Philippart said. 


Available at Chevrolet dealers

All Chevrolet Accessories can be purchased through GM dealerships.


Chevrolet Accessories permanently installed on a new GM vehicle at the time of delivery will be covered under the GM New Vehicle Limited Bumper-to-Bumper Warranty. GM Parts and Chevrolet Accessories permanently installed by a GM dealer after vehicle purchase will be covered for the balance of the new vehicle warranty, but in any event no less than 12 months or 12,000 miles.


Please visit or call toll-free 866-901-9001 to speak to one of GM’s knowledgeable accessory agents.


SPO, headquartered in Grand Blanc, Mich., markets automotive replacement parts and accessories worldwide under the GM Parts and ACDelco brand names. For more information, visit the Goodwrench web site at






Vehicle Highlights

·         All-new for 2003

·         Powerful Vortec 5300 5.3L V-8 cast aluminum powerplant with 300 hp (224 kw) and 331 lb.-ft. (449 Nm) of torque

·         Hydroformed steel frame

·         Innovative top-stack retractable hardtop

·         Unique design features large, flared fenders, sculpted hood and bold stance

·         Distinctive 19-inch front wheels, 20-inch rear wheels






Model Lineup





Vortec 5300 5.3L V-8

4-spd auto (Hydra-Matic 4L60-E)




















Body style / driveline:

2-seat convertible pickup with retractable hardtop / rear-wheel drive


2-sided galvanized steel on exterior panels

EPA vehicle class: 

mid-size truck

Manufacturing location: 

Lansing, Michigan




Vortec 5300 V-8


5.3L OHV V-8

Displacement (cu in / cc):

325 / 5326

Bore & stroke (in / mm):

3.78 / 96 x 3.27 / 92

Block material:

Die-cast aluminum

Cylinder head material:

Die-cast aluminum


OHV 2 valves per cylinder, camshaft in block, hydraulic roller lifters

Ignition system:

Electronic direct

Fuel delivery:

Sequential fuel injection

Compression ratio:

9.5: 1

Horsepower (hp / kw @ rpm):

300 / 224 @ 5200

Torque (lb-ft / Nm @ rpm):

331 / 449 @ 4000

Recommended fuel:

Regular unleaded

Maximum engine speed (rpm):


Exhaust system:

stainless steel with single muffler and dual tailpipes

Emissions controls:

evaporative system, catalytic converter, exhaust gas

recirculation, positive crankcase ventilation

Estimated fuel economy


(mpg city / hwy / combined): 

15 / 19 / 17




Hydra-Matic 4L60-E

4-speed automatic w/overdrive, rear-wheel drive

Gear ratios (:1):












Final drive ratio:





Double-A arm


five-link solid axle

Steering type:

Hydraulically assisted rack and pinion

Steering ratio: 


Steering wheel turns, lock-to-lock:


Turning circle, curb-to-curb (ft / m): 

38.1 / 11.6




power-assisted front disc, rear vented disc with 4-wheel anti-lock braking system

Front rotor (diameter x thickness, in / mm):

12 x 1.14 / 305 x 29; discs

Rear rotor (diameter x thickness, in / mm):

12.8 x 0.78 / 325 x 20; vented discs

Total swept area (sq in / sq cm):

front: 207.8 / 1340; rear: 216.6 / 1397



Wheel size and type: 

front: 19-inch x 8-inch aluminum

rear: 20-inch x 10-inch aluminum






front: P255/45R19 Goodyear

rear: P295/40R20 Goodyear

no spare: repair and inflation kit provided







Wheelbase (in / mm):

116 / 2946

Overall length (in / mm):

191.4 / 4862

Overall width (in / mm):

78.6 / 1996

Overall height (in / mm):

64.2 / 1631

Track (in / mm):

front: 64.1 / 1628; rear: 64.9 / 1648

Minimum ground clearance (in / mm):

6.1 / 154

Curb weight (lb / kg):

base: 4760 / 2159

Weight distribution (% front / rear):

52 / 48




Seating capacity:


Head room (in / mm):

40 / 1016

Leg room (in / mm):

42.1 / 1069

Shoulder room (in / mm):

53.5 / 1359

Hip room (in / mm):

51.3 / 1303



EPA interior volume (cu ft / L):

39.9 / 1130

Cargo volume (cu ft / L):

23.7 / 671

Trailer towing maximum (lb / kg):

2500 / 1134

Fuel tank (gal / L):

25 / 94.6

Engine oil (qt / L):

6.3 / 6

Cooling system (qt / L):

16.1 / 15.2



0-60 mph (0-97 km/h) (seconds):


¼-mile (seconds):

15.9 @ 90 mph

50-70 mph (80-113 km/h) (seconds):




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