By on November 20, 2009


Autoweek apparently got an interview with GM vice president of global vehicle engineering and former chairman of Holden, Mark Reuss. Apparently, because their write-up takes a light hand with the quotation marks, using them to fill in the gaps between the author’s breathless interpretations of the topic at hand: Chevrolet’s SS line.

From 1960s Chevelles to modern Camaros, speedy Chevrolets have always been indentified with two letters: SS. But does the tradition-laden performance designation have a future in the new General Motors, which is under pressure to cut costs, make money and meet stricter fuel-economy regulations? “Absolutely,” Mark Reuss, GM vice president of global engineering, told AutoWeek. In fact, the SS line could be better–or at least more clearly defined. Reuss envisions cars outfitted on a case-by-case basis, rather than somewhat generically adding horsepower and red-letter stitching to Chevys across the board. Or as he put it, “Not trying to peanut-butter SS for everything.”

And though the intent of Reuss’s proclamation was clearly to encourage, the SS brand may be one of GM’s most-damaged. Here, for your viewing pleasure, are a few of the reasons why.

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29 Comments on “SS Is Alive. Should Anyone Care?...”

  • avatar

    Why did Chevy use the “SS” letters in the first place?  Seems an odd choice given the other (in)famous user of those letters.  Less odd today, but when it first came about, everybody knew what the SS had been.

  • avatar

    Gm’s brain dead management thought SS = shiny wheels and a big motor.
    The SS badge should only be reserved for a V8, rear-drive, 6-speed manual car – the end.
    Unfortunately, the SS debacle here is what happens when marketing and accounting guys run car companies.

  • avatar

    It’s a disgrace putting the coveted SS emblems on any of their products today. They should have to earn that status.  Why not put ATT on all that stuff instead.

  • avatar

    Because rednecks loved all the plastic cladding and big lettering and bought the crap in droves in the 80’s and 90’s.  In reality it was just GM marketing to its last market stronghold and when they finally started buying hyundai’s the gig was up.   

    • 0 avatar

      Because rednecks loved all the plastic cladding and big lettering and bought the crap in droves in the 80’s and 90’s.  In reality it was just GM marketing to its last market stronghold and when they finally started buying hyundai’s the gig was up.
      Absolutely spot on.

  • avatar

    SS, which stands for Super Sport, should be laid to rest. This era of car manufacturing and marketing really has no place for a SS designation anymore. I have owned four Chevrolets from the 1960’s that were SS models, when SS had some real meaning. It was great then and meant something but time marches on and things change for the better or worse. It is time to stop diluting its well earned heritage and  move on.

  • avatar

    I disagree with the general sentiment here. There is room for SS at Chevrolet, they’ve just got to be more selective in how they employ it.

    I’ve actually got a soft spot for the Malibu Maxx SS. If only they’d offered it with a stick (and a better one than was offered in the related G6 GXP).

    • 0 avatar

      As is/was the Cobalt SS, which to me was the best modern interpretation of the whole SS mantra; put silly amounts of horsepower into what is basically a rental car. Add some badges but keep it otherwise low key. Some of the cars listed have veered away from what SS meant and what it should still mean. I agree with Michael here; there is room for SS at Chevrolet, but only on the right cars.

  • avatar

    The Trail Blazer was a decent application of the badge also the Camaro but the others were not needed.

  • avatar

    The front overhang on that crapmobile is burning my eyes.

  • avatar

    SS does have a place at Chevrolet, more than ever if they’re aiming to increase sales.   The problem is other than the Camero they don’t have a car worth putting it on.  The HHR SS was in my opinion the worst of the lot, a pointless car in and of itself given a meaningless performance option. 

  • avatar

    Why not resort back to the old “zed” monikers (Z24, Z34, Z28)?  They successfully denoted mediocre performance upgrades to mediocre cars as well as any.  Plus, they avoid the ire of 60’s muscle car afficianados. 

    SS should be reserved for muscle cars, which for now, is the Camaro.

  • avatar

    If given to proper performance cars, Camaro, Balt SS etc. this is a good move.
    Tape stripe and wheels packages…no.

    IMHO, Chevy SS made any reason for Pontiac to exist disappear a long time ago.

    Yes, Bunter said something quasi-positive about a GM move.  Shocker.


  • avatar

    Rightfully you didn’t add a photo of the Cobalt SS, which is, aside from the Camaro, the best use of the SS designation today. I tend to agree with Michael Karesh in that there is room for SS, just use it wisely. Cobalt SS takes care of the sport compact arena. Camaro shouldn’t be without it. Chevy should use it is on a rear-drive Impala, but we won’t see that anytime soon.  Could you fit it into the Corvette lineup?

    • 0 avatar

      I’d agree that the Cobalt SS is undeniably a performance car.  What hurts it is the SS package adds better than $10,000.00 to the base Cobalt.  And if you’re led to fork out 25 grand or better for a small performance car, why wouldn’t you look elsewhere? A base Camero is around 23 thousand, and the 1SS level moves you a tick over 30 thousand dollars. So oddly enough it costs less to go from base to SS with Camero than it does a Cobalt. Therein lies the trouble with much of the Chevy lineup.  There doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to pricing and packaging. Would you rather have a Cobalt SS or a base Camero for less? Compare a loaded Malibu with an Impala and you’ll find the prices similar, but the Impala is more car for the money.  The Camero is really the only place for the SS right now.  If they were to release a 2 door Impala or Malibu then maybe an SS package there would be appropriate. 

      I don’t recall there ever being an SS package for the Corvette, and I suppose its hardly necessary seeing how many ‘zed’ models there are in that department.

  • avatar

    Oh, dear God, please let his moribund monster that is GM DIE!! The agony is unbearable!

  • avatar

    Well, the PT cruiser (which GM stole  the design from) is offically dead as well so maybe there are a few of those people who liked that design left to buy this thing. YOu can get them pretty cheap as well and they are screaming bargains used as well (GM resale value strikes again)

  • avatar
    Via Nocturna

    I suppose we should be thankful for small mercies:  GM at least had the decency to not make an Aveo SS, complete with 18″ chrome wheels, “XTREEM” plastic body cladding, HID lights, and a sound system with enough wattage to shake the aforementioned body cladding off the car at volume.

  • avatar

    The Malibu, Cobalt and Impala SS were not worthy of the badge yes, but imo, the SS badge jumped the shark when they applied it to the lame Silverado and Equinox SUV.

    I don’t think “Cruze SS” rolls off the tongue very well either. It just sounds like somebody with a stutter or touretts (No offense to anyone who has either of these including yourz_s_s truely :) )

  • avatar

    Actually Z24 and Z28 do date to the muscle car era. The “Z28” regular production order code was introduced in January 1967 as the designation for a Trans Am capable Camaro. The designation stuck and in 1968 the Trans Am capable Camaro was formally called the Z28 and badged as such.

    The Z24 rpo code referenced a 1967-1969 Impala SS427.

  • avatar

    Remember General Motors still needs to throw a bone to the Olds and Pontiac people.

    How about a Z28 862* GTO SS?  Should get the point across if you walk around the car to read the whole thing.
    *862, an update on the 442, is 8 injectors, 6 speed, twin-turbo

  • avatar

    @panzerfaust: The Cobalt SS is competitively priced against it’s competition, i.e. Mazda 3 Speed, or VW GTI. To compare the top of the line Cobalt against the bottom rung Camaro is an apples to oranges exercise. Yes, there’s a $10K difference between the base Cobalt and the top Cobalt SS, but a base Cobalt starts out with a lot less equipment than does the V6 Camaro, other car lines (Civic, Mazda 3, etc.) are priced in the same manner.
    @Bunter 1, “IMHO, Chevy SS made any reason for Pontiac to exist disappear a long time ago.” I agree with this in a roundabout way. Since Pontiac is now defunct, the Chevy SS’s (SSes?) can now take the place that Pontiac had in the hierarchy of GM.
    The reality is that former Pontiac owners are going to want to have something different than a ‘regular’ Chevy in the brave new GM world. And they may not want a Buick, maybe ever.
    GM should take the lesson to heart from the loss of former Oldsmobile buyers who wandered away from GM and offer a line of SS models to replace the Pontiacs that folks desire.

  • avatar

    I think the recent Impala SS is worthy of the moniker (of course I own one). Say what you want about it’s handling or how hard the plastics are, but when it comes down to it most vehicles I meet at a red light get destroyed. The feeling I get when I smoke some dumb ass kid who’s idea of performance is tacking a giant spoiler and coffee can exhaust on a Honda makes up for any short comings a critic could come with.

    As for being stereotyped, well, it’s only happened once. Some teen at a carwash called it a hick car. I called his car a weedeater. Escalation ensued. I still don’t have the heart to get the windshield repaired where his head got slammed and his tooth/teeth chipped the glass.

    • 0 avatar

      The 1990s Imapala SS probably was the last real “SS” GM ever produced… it was certainly closer to the original theme than anything since.   Unfortunately, today’s “SS” designation is more descriptive of the sound air makes when coming out of a tire.

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