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The 1961 Chevy Impala SS badge is shown in close up.

The Once and Future Chevy SS

There are plenty of names that can conjure up feelings of excitement and images of raw power for car fans: names like “Corvette,” “Mustang,” “Charger,” and “Camaro.” It’s rarer, however, for just a couple of letters to do that, yet there’s a particular pairing that’s been used over the last 60 years or so, on occasion, as a clear indicator of when drivers can expect to experience something special––the letters “SS” on a Chevy model. SS models have always been known for delivering exhilarating performance, and you’re going to find a new addition to this heritage at your local new Chevy dealership early next year: the Blazer EV SS.

Whether you’re a lifelong Chevy fan or new to the brand, it’s worth knowing about the legacy of the SS name and what it could promise going forward. It’s clear that GM recognizes what this label means for a lot of people and that they’re going to use it on an all-electric SUV seems like a sign of great things to come. The prospects are quite exciting and could be revolutionary, so let’s take a look at where we’ve been and where we’re going.

Origins of the Chevy SS

The Chevy Super Sport, or SS, first got its start all the way back in 1956, though it wasn’t available to the public at that time. It began as a custom race car designed by GM using a Chevy Corvette and was called the “Corvette Super Sport.” This was only made as a single vehicle and was a showcase for Chevy power and performance through the Corvette––it was never meant to be made available to the public. Reactions to this Corvette SS were strong, however, and Chevy realized they had an opportunity to create a new market for their vehicles.

Several years later, in 1961, the first SS models became available to customers, not as a Corvette but as an SS package for the Chevy Impala. You’ll typically hear people refer to the ’61 Impala SS as the first Chevy SS, and though that’s technically not entirely true, it was the first one actually offered to drivers. Although some 491,000 Chevy Impalas were built for the 1961 model year, only 453 of them had the SS package. Despite relatively few of them being on the road that first year, performance fans immediately recognized what these vehicles had to offer, and the limited number of them has made them highly collectible in the decades since.

The original SS kit for the Impala included both aesthetic features and performance upgrades for drivers to enjoy. This included SS badging and detailing for the interior and exterior, along with reinforcements for the chassis, stronger shocks and springs, and power brakes to handle the impressive performance of the Impala SS. It was available with two engine options: a 5.7L V8 with 305 hp or a 6.7L V8 engine that delivered 360 hp––most of those first-year models featured the smaller engine. Overall, this introduction of the SS set the stage for what it would offer in the decades that followed: a performance-focused design with both styling touches and mechanical features that allowed for boosted power.

A black and white photo shows a 1971 Chevy Monte Carlo SS parked on a golf course.

Popular SS Models throughout the Years

In the years that followed, Chevy has been pretty eager to keep using the SS badge when the opportunity presented itself––even on some models that a lot of people might not expect. The Impala SS was offered from 1961 to 1969, then again in the mid-1990s, and finally in the mid-2000s. Following its initial success, Chevy offered the SS kit on other models such as the Monte Carlo in the 1970s and 1980s, the Nova throughout the early 1970s, and even the El Camino from 1968 to 1987.

Even though the very first vehicle to ever use the SS moniker was a Corvette, Chevy has actually not offered this performance package on the ‘Vette, preferring instead to have unique performance options such as the Z06 and ZR1. Chevy’s other popular sports car, however, has often featured this option, with the first Camaro SS being offered in 1967. Proving that fans are happy to keep coming back for this package, the Camaro is currently the only Chevy model with an SS option available these days.

Some of the most surprising options for Chevy models with the SS package (until next year, at least) have been trucks. The Chevy C/K trucks from 1990 to 1993 had an SS option available, which was then offered on the Chevy S10 pickup from 1994 to 1998. Following this, the Chevy Silverado has also had SS packages available from time to time, while the TrailBlazer midsize SUV had an SS option offered from 2006 to 2009. This is something I find particularly fascinating because it shows that GM isn’t afraid to have the SS badge offered on performance options regardless of the type of vehicle––something we’ll see again soon enough.

The 2014 Chevy SS

Not too long ago, Chevy even took a swing at letting the SS be more than a badge or a package for another model and instead offered it as its own model. The 2014 Chevy SS was an American re-badging of the Holden Commodore––a sedan made by an Australian car company owned by GM. Although the Commodore had been available in Australia for many years, Chevy decided to try it out here in the US for the last few years of its production run. Our Chevy SS was something pretty uncommon these days: a four-door sedan with rear-wheel drive and an impressive 415 hp V8 engine.

It was a powerful performance sedan that created another great option for Chevy drivers who liked the Malibu and Impala but wanted something with more “oomph” to it. The engine was powerful, the performance was sporty and nimble, and it featured a six-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters on the wheel. It was a slick ride that created a fun alternative to Chevy’s other options, something of a blend between the Malibu and the Camaro, but it was sadly not to last. The Chevy SS was only available here in the US from 2014 to 2017, and in that time, fewer than 13,000 were sold. It might not have been the greatest triumph for Chevy or the SS badge, but it was something interesting at least.

A black 2017 Chevy Camaro 1LE SS is shown from the rear driving on a race track after visiting a new Chevy dealership.

The 2024 Chevy Blazer SS

I’d argue that something even more interesting is on its way, however, as Chevy has recently announced an all-new model getting the SS badge: the all-electric 2024 Blazer EV. Very little is known about this model, unfortunately, as even details on the baseline Blazer EV have been less than scarce. It will probably be a two-row midsize SUV like the current Blazer, and it will use GM’s Ultium battery platform plus have a wide range of impressive features, but that’s really it until Chevy gives us more details.

As for the Blazer SS, we know even less––they’ve announced it will be a thing and showed off a short video of an automatically closing cover for the charging port, but that’s it. Of course, this video also featured the typical “Simulated images shown throughout. Actual production model will vary” small print at the bottom of the screen, so who knows what it will look like when we finally get to see it? Based on its impressive legacy, however, it’s a safe bet that the Blazer EV SS will look great, with unique styling options inside, and have a motor setup that delivers bold power and performance, making it something new and exciting in Chevy’s EV lineup. We’ll just have to wait a bit longer to get all of the details.

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