My Favorite Ride: Chevy SSR a truly modern classic

August 11, 2013 

The car: 2005 Chevrolet SSR

The owner: Larry Whitney, Atwater

1. What are the key features of your vehicle? I think the key feature is its uniqueness. It's no longer manufactured by GM. I first saw one at 2003 Indy 500, as a pace car-truck. I like its styling, retractable hardtop and LS2 V8 (366 cid) — an all-aluminum block and heads, roller lifters and roller cam, lots of horsepower (390) and torque, 405 foot-pounds. It has an all-steel body except for the bed cover, which is fiberglass, weighing in at 4,764 pounds.

2. What did you have to do to get it in its present state? It is stock, except for the oil, oil and air filters, and a good wax job.

3. What else do you want to do to it? I would someday like to add a supercharger (blower) to the engine, adding approximately 60-75 horsepower and 50-60 foot-pounds of torque.

4. How did you acquire your vehicle? I purchased it new from Courtesy Chevrolet here in Merced.

5. Why did you pick that particular vehicle and what do you find appealing about it? I always liked the 1948-54 Chevy pickups. This is my street rod version with a retractable hardtop, 19-inch rims in front and 20-inch rims in back — 12 inches wide. It has lots of traction, but it does have a traction control button. It even has wood slats in the truck bed.

6. What started your love affair with cars? I probably inherited my interest in cars from my father. He took me to the Smithsonian when I was 12, and he told me about all the old cars on display, a bit of a gearhead.

7. What advice would you give others about starting a project? I would say always pursue your dream. I thought about customizing a Chevy pickup but this model has all the modern safety features, large anti-lock disc brakes, limited-slip rear end and air bags.

8. Do you have any other collector vehicles or project cars? I owned a 1977 Chevy El Camino SS for 35 years and always was fixing it up, so my SSR is my new version of the El Camino.

9. What's your favorite memory about this ride? I have so many fond memories, trips to Tahoe, Carmel, Reno-Carson City, San Francisco, all great road trips. My SSR is such a joy to drive with the top up or down.

Got a car you love? Tell us about it

People love cars and trucks. And now we're featuring some of these vintage vehicles as well as newer models in "My Favorite Ride." Old car owners and fans of tricked-out newer ones can fill out a nine-question survey and get their vehicle photographed so they can be featured as a "My Favorite Ride" in the Sun-Star and on Give us your name, address, telephone numbers and email address, and we'll send you the survey questions. Contact or

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