2005 Chevrolet SSR - Project Super Stunner By Go-Ez
Drop The Top And Hold On!
On September 11, 2006, Chevrolet delivered a slightly used '05 Chevy SSR with 16,237 miles on the odometer to the headquarters of The World's Leading Truck Publication. Our instructions were simple: Do not drive it on any public roads under any circumstances and make it look as cool as possible in the next 24 months. On October 24, 2008, Chevrolet picked up their slightly used SSR with 16,311 miles on the odometer, only this time, it looked a little different than it did in '06. If you had a truck that you couldn't drive, what would you do? We thought so, and that's why we cut it up. This is the story of one red-headed stepchild that turned out to be Project Super Stunner.
This SSR was exactly what we hoped for when we pitched Chevrolet the story idea back in the beginning of '06. It had low miles, an LS2 V-8 under the hood, and it was backed by a T-56 six-speed manual transmission. With nearly 400 hp on tap and the gearbox to make it smoke the tires, the SSR was a blast when we drove it on the track at California Motor Speedway in Fontana, California. Making several runs down the 1/4-mile and in the slalom, the SSR showed quickness, but was not overtly fast with a best time of 14.59 at 96.86 mph. On the dyno, we quickly realized why the SSR was running in the mid-14s with the wheels turning the rollers at 245 hp. Whereas, this wasn't too shabby, we knew the aluminum V-8 had more available so we turned to four companies: K&N filters, NOS, Corsa Performance, and Stan's Headers.
Flowing more air into the LS2 is a K&N intake with carbon fiber surround for lightweight strength. Flowing more air out of the V-8 is a set of Stan's Headers long-tube headers exhaling into a Corsa Performance exhaust that is quiet while cruising with no droning and yet with the throttle wide open, the exhaust note means business. For a serious jolt in horsepower, an NOS nitrous system from Holley was installed. With the 150hp jets installed in the LS2 throttle-body plate, the dyno rollers were churning to the tune of 499.4 hp. Now we were cooking with some hot grease! Back at the drag strip, the SSR blazed down the quarter-mile at 12.89 at 114.48 mph. Able to roast the tires at a moments notice, we were now ready to make the SSR lay frame. To accomplish this admirable task, we turned to the professionals at GO-EZ Customs.
Our short trailering of the SSR brought us to Placentia, California, where GO-EZ Customs calls home. Known for their all-out assault on suspensions, some of the lowest and most custom cars and trucks in SoCal have rolled out of the GO-EZ shop doors. Art Gomez, owner of GO-EZ, listened to our request and looked at the SSR and then quickly said, "No problem, we'll lay this thing out." After a call to Mac Springs for a set of Slam Specialties airbags and ASCO valves, Air Zenith was dialed for a pair of compressors to make our air suspension dreams come true. Keeping to his word, Art and the GO-EZ crew got cracking on the SSR with welders in hand. The guys removed the factory front struts, made their own 'bag mounts, installed the Slam 'bags and notched several key areas for added clearance. With the front handled, the crew went to work making sense of the five-link coil suspension in the rear. Relocating the Panhard bar, performing a C-notch, and making a large oval loop for the 'bag mounts and center structure allowed the rear to lay low. Go-EZ then notched the body to make room for the driveshaft and after all was said and done, the power hardtop still went up and down without a hitch.
After the sparks had settled and Art hit the AVS switch box for the air suspension, our Project Super Stunner was looking sick as the frame gently rested on the California pavement. Now we had an SSR that ran like a racehorse and could drag frame with the best of them, but the stock red Chevy paint was too boring for our tastes. We loaded the SSR onto the Truckin' trailer and made the drive out to Hemet, California, to meet up with Josh, at Nostalgic Restyling.
We handed Josh the keys and told him to do his thing. Our guidelines were simple-make it look cool. As you can see in the original rendering, Josh opted to follow the current trend of flats rather than go flashy and that was fine by us. Using tape to mask off the hot-rod flames, Josh kept the factory red and then sprayed the flat black. Old school cool easily describes the new look. Due to time constraints, our SSR still had some details that needed to be handled and for those critical fixes, Project Super Stunner was dropped off in the capable hands of South County Customs in Lake Forest, California. While at the shop, Max Gilmore had his crew smoked the headlights, taillights, side markers, and even the foglights. The factory gray front grille was painted flat black, the silver door handles painted black, and the rear SSR emblem holes filled and painted. Up front, Jeff Styles came in and added a slick miniature set of flames on the Bow Tie and filled the Chevrolet letters on the front grille in matching red. We can't say enough how big of a difference the blacking-out and custom Bow Tie made to the Chevy, but we'll try-it was night and day. One huge piece of the puzzle was missing-wheels and tires. It was time to get back on the phone.
As we all know, wheels and tires can make or break a project truck and with our flat black retro look, we couldn't just bolt any old wheel onto the Chevy. After talking with Giovanna, we ordered a set of matte black Cuomo wheels. Up front, 20x81/2-inch Cuomo wheels in matte black were bolted on with ultra high-performance Nitto INVO 245/35R20 tires. For traction duties, 285/30R22 Nitto INVO tires wrap around matte black Giovanna Cuomo 22x101/2-inch wheels with 6-inch lips. To really make the wheel and tire combo jump out at you, new Koko Kuture bezel rings in bright red were installed in just minutes. The end result is a look that perfectly matches the hot-rod theme and still meets our performance needs. Helping show off all of the hard work GO-EZ performed, the upper portions of the red bezels disappear when the wheels tuck.
Inside the cozy confines of the Chevy, we opted for a more stealth approach, so that we could leave the top down while parked at a show. With our calendar showing weeks left until our deadline, we got a little crafty. In the Truckin' garage, we cut the factory CD-player head unit face off of the head unit in order to hide the new Pioneer AVIC-Z3 DVD, 30GB hard-drive navigation head unit. With the factory face in place, no one would ever know a top-of-the-line, in-dash navigation system was resting behind it. The AVIC-Z3 sends audio signals to two MTX Jackhammer amplifiers mounted underneath the seats. A JH600 mono-block amp powers two MTX Thunder Thin TT65 12-inch subs measuring less than 31/2 inches deep behind each seat. Each door is home to MTX TXC6.1 61/2-inch components powered by a Jackhammer JH404 four-channel amp. All of the audio was wired using high-end connectors and cables from Streetwires. No rattles ever crept up on us thanks to the cabin being covered in Hushmat. Cruising at speed with the top down doesn't diminish the monstrous audio coming from this SSR, not that we would know what cruising in the SSR is like.
It took people dedicated to excellence to make this Chevy SSR really come together and we'd like to thank Art from GO-EZ, Ron and Diko from Giovanna, Tim and Tomo from Nitto, Matt and Bill from Holley, the guys at Stan's Headers, Corsa exhaust, K&N filters, Air Zenith, Slam Specialties, Mac Springs, Josh from Nostalgic Restyling, Max Gilmore from South County Customs, Jade from Pioneer, Jesse from MTX, and Tim from Hushmat.
If only Chevy would have made such a sick-looking drop-top truck, maybe, just maybe the SSR would still be in production. If you want your ride to lay frame or just look completely custom, call the fellas over at GO-EZ at (714) 630-0600. For more pics of this cool project, check out truckinweb.com.