Rarity in the automotive world is a bit of a mixed blessing. Sometimes cars are rare because they were exquisite coachbuilt art pieces destined for the lawn at Pebble Beach. Other times, they are rare because sales fell short of expectations and the manufacturer cut its losses by limiting production. These often turn into cult cars (or motorcycles) later in life.
We’re seeing that trend now with, for example, the Chevrolet SS. While some new models are still sitting in inventory at dealerships, values for used examples, particularly the rare manual transmission V-8 models, seem to be rising.
The Chevrolet SSR has a similar story. Unveiled in prototype form at the 2000 Detroit auto show to rave reviews and “you must buildit” screams from enthusiasts, sales of the retro-styled hard-top roadster pickup never really materialized. During the SSR’s four years of production, slightly more than 24,000 rolled off the line.
Perhaps it was just hard to figure out what this was supposed to be. It was a convertible with a fascinating retracting hardtop, but it never really handled well, owing to its heavy Trailblazer SUV platform. As a result, it wasn’t particularly compelling for the sports car crowd. It had a V-8 engine, rear-wheel drive, and it was large enough to yield poor fuel economy despite being able to carry only two passengers. Was it a kind of pickup truck? Well, it had a fancy upholstered bed and a non-removable hinged cover, but it was really just a roadster with a huge trunk, and it couldn’t really match a real truck’s utility. Its bespoke body and interior also kept prices on the high side, further limiting demand.
The SSR nevertheless had real road presence and its looks are still striking and appealing, both inside and out. Think of it as a slower Corvette with a huge trunk, complete with that great engine note, but made for straight roads. Originally sold with a base price of around $42,000, prices initially dropped but plateaued quickly, another sign of the car’s cult status.
Today’s eBay find is a particularly rare example, fitted with a six-speed manual transmission and the later 6.0-liter 390-horsepower V-8 engine. If there is an SSR to hold on to, it’s this one. It benefits from just about every factory option available at the time, from chrome wheels, to wood slats in the trunk, running boards, and extra-cost paint.
The seller displays a car that’s completely stock and shows fewer than 12,000 miles since new. Compared to its original price of nearly $50,000, this should sell for much less, but GM surely isn’t making any more like it anytime soon.