Fail of century #22: Chevrolet SSR | Top Gear
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Friday 2nd June
Fail of the Century

Fail of century #22: Chevrolet SSR

As a car company, it’s important to give your customers what they’re asking for. Just possibly not everything they’re asking for, all in the one car.

See, in the early Noughties, Chevrolet doubtless had many customers requesting a) folding hard-top convertibles, b) pickup trucks, and c) retro hot rods. Problem is, they definitely weren’t requesting all those things atop the same four wheels.

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This apparent inability to understand the Oxford comma sadly resulted in Chevrolet unleashing the SSR (stood for Super Sport Roadster, was none of these things) on a frankly bemused public in late 2003. Revealed in a pyrotechnic Michael Bay promotional video (but of course), it was the ultimate automotive turducken: a retractable metal roof, sitting on a Fifties-styled ute, sitting on an SUV platform.

Blending these disparate elements into a harmonious whole was a knotty design challenge, one at which Chevrolet spectacularly failed. The SSR’s body was a Dali-esque fever dream from almost every angle, and its performance proved as laboured as its design: despite packing a 5.3-litre V8, the weighty SSR struggled to break eight seconds for the 0–60mph run. Oh, and it cost $42,000 at launch, for which you could have had a decent pick-up and a decent convertible, and a modicum of self respect. Sales flatlined, and the SSR was axed after just three years. Not what the customers asked for.

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