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. After considering four “modern interpretations” of past Chevy designs, Ed Welburn, GM Design executive and his crew decided to mimic 1947-52's “Advanced Design” pickups with one major addition, a retractable hardtop.
To keep overhead and investment costs down, GM decided to build SSR using the underpinnings of the TrailBlazer, (32 percent by the reckoning of most of the GM folks we asked.) Other than the top, the biggest departure from Trailblazer was replacing its standard 4.2-liter in-line six with a new, aluminum block version of GM's 5.3-liter V-8 that develops 300 horsepower and 331 pound-feet of torque. GM's 4L60-E four-speed Hydra-Matic transmission delivers that grunt to the 10-by-20-inch rear wheels.