Any successful individual will tell you that in order to make a handful of hits, you have to make a lot of misses. For every great song by The Rolling Stones, there are 20 that never made it out of Keith Richards’ notebook. Even Michelangelo probably has some sketches piled up in a basement that he hopes nobody ever lays eyes on. Failure is an inevitable part of success, and even great car makers like Chevrolet know this.
If you’ve been researching “Chevrolet dealer near me” online because you are interested in rare and one-of-a-kind used Chevy models, there might be a few you don’t even know about. Even Chevy had misfires and hiccups during its time, vehicles that didn’t hit the mark for their buyers. They also made some cars that were just right but came out at the wrong time and were underappreciated. There are some quite interesting relics in the lineup of Chevy’s forgotten models, and while drivers didn’t like them during their short stint on the market, you might find that you love them today. We won’t pretend they’re easy to locate (some didn’t even make it onto the market), but they’re worth looking for if you want something truly unique. Here are some Chevy models you probably never knew existed.
The Chevy HHR SS
The Chevy HHR SS didn’t quite know what it was. On the market from 2008 to 2010, this “panel van” was part minivan, part station wagon, part SUV, and part utility van. It had three rows of windows, giving it a station wagon look and feel and a hatchback design. However, it was also available in a model that ditched the exterior handles on the rear doors. The basic model, the Chevy HHR, wasn’t that exciting. However, then came the SS, which boasted a 2.0-liter turbocharged Ecotec four-cylinder engine. It could go from 0 to 60 in 6.3 seconds and essentially was a performance van. Those are two words you don’t hear together often.
Ultimately, perhaps understandably, the world wasn’t sure what to make of this vehicle. Chevy dropped it and shifted its focus to SUVs; however, somewhere in the world, a carpool parent wishes this spacious people hauler was still around. Or maybe a surfer who wanted more passenger space is grieving the loss of this oddball vehicle. While it’s questionable whether this vehicle could serve a purpose in today’s market, for now, it’s simply a footnote in automotive history.
The Chevy Uplander
The Chevy Uplander was around from 2005 to 2009. When you consider its appearance and its near overlap with the HHR SS, it becomes clear that Chevy was playing with the concept of an SUV van at the time. In fact, they referred to the Uplander as a “crossover sport van,” stating that it offered SUV looks with minivan functionality.
It boasted seating for seven passengers, and an overhead rail system with snap-in storage, making it ideal for large families with lots of little toys and trinkets to pack. It also had a DVD entertainment rear system, so it was clearly tailored to parents with finicky young passengers. It came in a long and short wheelbase variation, both of which had foldable and removable rear seats. Under the hood, you’d find a V6 engine and a four-speed automatic transmission.
This vehicle also struggled to find its fan base. Chevy did tout it for having SUV “looks” but perhaps didn’t realize that looks aren’t what people like about an SUV; it’s their functionality. Ultimately, the Uplander was just a minivan with slightly sportier styling but no sportier handling than a regular minivan. So where’s the fun in that?
The Chevy SSR
At first glance, you might think the Chevy SSR was designed in the 1970s, but this unique pickup truck was actually produced from 2003 to 2006. It does, however, have a distinctly retro style. In fact, it was designed after Chevy’s 1940s trucks (think the ones you’d have seen in the Pixar movie Cars.) The SSR was a convertible pickup with a hard top, so it was designed more for leisure than hard work. Its bed was entirely covered and not very long.
It did have some impressive standard features for its time, like keyless entry, a CD player (remember, we did say impressive “for its time”), and power windows. It also had luxury leather bucket seats, which showed drivers that this car was built more for joy rides than construction sites. It had rear wheels that were larger than the front and could go from zero to 60 in 7.7 seconds. It could even complete a quarter mile in just under 16 seconds. So, despite its convertible design, it wasn’t just for cruising along the coast.
The Chevy Miray
This masterpiece was ready to zip by at the speed of light while creating zero emissions. Unfortunately, Chevy only debuted it at a car show in 2011 and never saw the light of day again. Many drivers lament that the Chevy Miray never took off, and we can see why. This hybrid sports car had bold, stunning lines that made it look more like a piece of art than a vehicle. It boasted two 15kW electric motors paired with a 1.6 kWh lithium-ion battery. It also had some cool features like retractable rear flaps for improved airflow and scissor doors. Oh, and in place of standard rearview mirrors, it had rearview cameras that came out when the car was on.
Inside, a front-facing camera displayed real-time footage over the GPS navigation screen, and it had a dual-cockpit design, unlike anything you’ve seen before. Its name translates to “the future” in Korean. Sadly, Chevy wasn’t ready to launch it into the future, so dealerships never saw this vehicle. There have been some whispers that Chevy could bring it back, as Chevy has shown an openness to hybrid sports cars with their Corvette E-Ray, so the rumors aren’t completely unfounded.
The Chevrolet Blazer XT-1
The Chevy Blazer XT-1 was also a concept car that never went up for sale. Rumors have it that Chevy never intended to mass produce it, either. When you see its Star Trek-like look, you can understand that Chevy would struggle to justify making a fleet of these. Still, there’s a whole online cult obsessed with this vehicle that can only be described as part space shuttle, part minivan. The Blazer XT-1 appeared at the Chicago Auto Show in 1987. It was an SUV with a van body and, here’s the crazy part, a glass roof. If anything, Chevy could have produced a small batch of these for some ride at an amusement park.
Inside, it had an airplane-style steering yoke. It also had four-wheel steering, ultimately giving it a huge turning radius. In the back, you’d find removable storage modules. Like the SSR, its rear wheels were larger than its front ones. Under the hood was a 4.3-liter V6 engine boasting 202 hp, paired with a four-speed automatic transmission. You could see children being very excited to pull up to the carpool in this van, and by the time they turned 13, you could see them being very embarrassed by this bright yellow novelty on wheels.