2005 Chevrolet SSR - Carbon-Fiber Diamond Back
ASC's Sick 500hp SSR Is All About Performance-Inside And Out.
When choosing to outdo the factory offerings with the likes of Chevrolet's SSR, some amazing accomplishments must be achieved to call it "improved." One such company to take on the daunting task of modifying the retro-styled truck is American Specialty Cars, better known as simply ASC. Turning an enhancement session into an all-out assault, ASC put a spin on this hardtop drop-top that nobody saw coming and laid the industry flat on its back with the introduction of the Diamondback at the '04 SEMA Show in Las Vegas.
Beginning with the completely stock pickup, ASC brought the ride height down to a more respectable level with the installation of a Ground Force lowering kit consisting of coil springs in the front and rear to replace the stock front strut and rear five-link. Damping those new coils are custom-valved Bilsteins. With most of the suspension already apart, on went Brembo brakes at all four corners. For good measure, the rotors are 14 inches in diameter front and rear. Doing their best to cover up those mammoth rotors are billet wheel offerings from Budnik measuring 20x8-inch front and 22x10-inch rear; FL-series Flares are encased in rubber carcasses from BFGoodrich's g-Force line. The sticky, low-profile rubber measures in at 265/35ZR20 front and 285/35ZR22 rear.
Being an '05 model SSR meant that this hauler was equipped from the Chevrolet assembly line with the much sought after 6.0L LS-2 V-8; and for a really good time, the six-speed Tremec manual transmission with short shifter was thrown in as well. Right out of the gate, this setup is rated at 390 hp, but ASC felt it could improve in this department. The first thing anyone would notice under the hood is the mirror-shined MagnaCharger Radix blower in place of the stock intake manifold. With its unique fluid-to-air intercooler helping make six pounds of boost, Magnuson's MagnaCharger adds an easy 120 hp to the already stout 390hp factory figure. For cleanliness, panels covering both sides of the engine bay hide any and all unsightly bits. Just to be sure it hit all the corners, ASC saw fit to equip this SSR with other performance-enhancing features, including a high-flow, chambered exhaust with dual side exits, an integrated forced air intake, and to make it all hit the ground, an Eaton, limited slip unit was fitted to the 3.73-geared, 9-1/2-inch rearend.
Exterior accoutrements are where this Chevy really draws a crowd. Although these pictures don't do it justice, we can vouch that this SSR is one killer carbon-fiber hot rod. Using a uniquely created weaving process it refers to as OmniCarbon, ASC reduced the weight of this vehicle quite a bit by introducing OmniCarbon to the SSR's exterior. Sheets of the high-digit material adorn the Diamondback's all-new fixed roof (yes...fixed); cowl-induction style hood; bedcover; front air dam; rear, lower fascia; tailgate spoiler; upper quarter panels; upper door panels; and sideview mirrors. What little else of the exterior was not outfitted in the space-age cloth was painted a contrasting silver metallic. Completing the outer body is an ITW capless fuel filler.
With the aforementioned conversion to a complete hardtop (you read that correctly), ASC has created a huge rear stowage area under the roof in what used to be where the roof was stored when in the down position. Moving the B-pillars rearward by 6 inches and modifying the interior's back wall accomplished this. The sporty theme was carried over into the interior with the use of additional OmniCarbon on the gauge panel's face and interior trim accents. The stock seats were deemed inadequate and were removed to make room for Corbeau race seats with custom trim and five-point harnesses. Also, a custom rollcage is in place to take care of the roll-over safety lacked by the carbon-fiber roof. Completing the fantasy of the senses is a full sound system. Up front, an Alpine head unit in the factory location serves the signals to a pair of amplifiers mounted behind the seats. After the signals are boosted, they are sent to four Sony 6-1/2-inch speakers and two tweeters. Filling in the lower spectrum of sound is a Sony 12-inch subwoofer mounted in the rear deck behind the lengthened center console.
All in all, we'd have to say that ASC has accomplished its task of bettering a good package-a feat rarely seen in nature. Lighter, lower, faster, and more comfortable in the much-needed leg room area, Chevrolet's SSR has definitely been specialized by the talented group at American Specialty Cars. Best put by ASC's president Paul Wilbur: "If this vehicle doesn't excite you, check your pulse because you may be dead."