Did The Chevy SSR Always Have A Corvette Engine Under The Hood? Here's What To Know

If one were to track the development timeline of any of the major auto manufacturers, you'd see a steady stream of vehicle's that made it into production, and those that never got past the "concept car" phase. You'd likely also see that even major automakers occasionally went into production on a make that has concept car written all over it — and that may well have been the case for Chevrolet when it sent the SSR pickup truck to the assembly line.

The retro-inspired pickup first entered the concept car chat in 2000 when its wonky design was included among a dozen others conjured by GM's design team. Though it was a sight to admire on paper, the pickup-roadster mashup with a covered bed and convertible hardtop was, shall we say, out there — even in the concept car arena. But after a prototype wowed at the Detroit Auto Show, Chevy shocked the world by announcing the SSR was headed into production. 

The wildly unconventional truck was part of Chevy's lineup between 2003 and 2006, with the manufacturer eventually pushing the SSR's automotive eccentricities to the max by equipping it with an LS2 V8 engine — the very same engine you'd find under the hood of a Corvette from that era. However, the first make of SSR did not pack quite as much punch under the hood, with the 2003 build coming equipped with a 5.3l V-8 engine whose 300 horsepower some deemed ill-equipped to sufficiently move it's 2.5 ton frame. 

The SSR didn't get the LS2 V-8 upgrade until the 2005 model year

Though the SSR was turning heads on the road, Chevy faced a real problem: The vehicle's performance was less than impressive, particularly as drivers were forking over $40,000 to get behind the wheel. That combination of factors likely played a role in the middling sales figures that plagued the SSR in the early days of production. The obvious solution was for Chevrolet to muscle-up the SSR's engine, which it finally did for the 2005 model year.

If you're looking to get behind the wheel of an SSR with a Corvette engine under the hood, you'll need to look at the 2005 or 2006 models powered by the 6.0-liter LS2 V-8. The power upgrade was clearly a welcome change for drivers of the 2005 SSR, with the 390 horsepower and 405 pound-feet of torque proving more than sufficient to not only get the weighty hot-rod pickup hybrid moving, but push it down the road with a quickness.

Of course, the improved performance begged the question of why the Chevy team didn't put a more powerful engine under the hood to begin with. That said, it seems the automaker waited too long to make the move, as interest in the SSR had cooled by the time the suped-up '05 hit the street. With underwhelming sales, Chevy pulled the plug on the SSR in 2006, making it one of the manufacturer's more spectacular failures. That fact alone means the company will probably never produce another SSR, and may even balk at green-lighting another unorthodox concept car for production.