It’s a common phenomenon: Brand enthusiasts zero in on an overseas model and imagine that if it were appropriated for stateside consumption, it would not only upend the performance-per-dollar hierarchy, but also require dealerships to hire extra security to handle the teeming masses waving their checkbooks. “I’d be first in line!” they say. In this instance, the manufacturer is Chevrolet and the car is the Holden Commodore, but GM was planning to bring it stateside as the Chevrolet SS long before the keyboard tastemakers took notice.
Having previously experienced less-than-stellar results with the sadly misunderstood Pontiac GTO and later the Pontiac G8 sedan, two recent Australian-American V-8–powered products that failed to build much excitement at the cash register, GM knew to temper the plan with a dose of consumer reality. While GM initially had high production hopes for multiple times the initial capacity, its estimates were drastically revised once production began. Sales turned out to be consistent if not earth-shattering: GM sold 2479 units in 2014, 2895 in 2015, and 3013 in 2016. Ultimately, it was the company’s decision to shutter Holden production altogether, not weak sales, that sealed the SS’s fate. Ordering for the SS concluded at the end of February, with Chevrolet dealers now selling off any remaining stock. Interestingly, Chevrolet sold 1529 SSs in the first three months of 2017, with 1217 sold in March alone. Apparently, the news of the car’s impending demise helped stoke some fires; that and a recent fire sale advertising 20 percent off.
Before the SS forever disappears not so silently into a cloud of tire smoke, we wanted one last fling to load up the memory bank, so we snagged a 2017 SS with a six-speed manual. Little has changed in the car’s four-model-year run. Its centerpiece, the old-school two-valve-per-cylinder pushrod LS3 V-8, still sends 415 ponies and 415 lb-ft of torque to the rear tires. While the SS launched in 2014 with a six-speed automatic transmission as the sole cog-swapper, the manual came on board (as no-cost option) in 2015, as did Chevy’s excellent Magnetic Ride Control adaptive suspension, Brembo brakes in the rear to match the existing fronts, 4G LTE connectivity, and five additional exterior colors. Though its fascia was mildly updated and new 19-inch wheels arrived in 2016, some fans still found the exterior appearance too bland. We kind of dig its clandestine exterior for its authority-avoiding disappear-into-the-flow-of-traffic properties.
One of the SS’s more interesting traits is its high level of standard equipment. In addition to the hardware above, the base price of $48,620 includes a dual-mode exhaust, a limited-slip differential (3.70:1 final drive in the manual versus the automatic’s 3.27:1 ratio), proximity entry and remote start, heated and ventilated power front seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter, a head-up display, forward-collision…