General Motors To Shiver New York Timbers With SS

Chevrolet-SG-AWhen do auto marketers actually have time to work? Maybe in summer, because the international auto show calendar is almost as long as the NASCAR season. If you count the SEMA specialty-equipment makers event in Las Vegas (which you do because it's become a major OEM technology-launch platform), we're looking at 10 international shows per year. 

The NASCAR analogy makes sense if you are talking about General Motors and the next big show, the New York International Auto Show (about two heartbeats later than Geneva.) General Motors' Chevrolet division, which put the Corvette Stingray convertible on stage in Switzerland, will use the New York stage as a parking spot for its first totally new performance car since, maybe, the mid-1990s. 

Yes, Chevrolet is introducing -- or reintroducing -- its famed rear-wheel muscle moniker, SS. The automaker actually gave NASCAR fans a first look at the car last fall at NASCAR's Champion's Week in Vegas, and again last month in Daytona at a track-side press conference. It's fair that Daytona should get the first look since NASCAR star Jeff Gordon will drive the No. 24 "Drive to End Hunger" Chevy SS for Hendricks Motors NASCAR Racing this year. For the Speedway presser, Gordon himself drove up to the tarmac behind the wheel of the street-legal car, while his NASCAR version posed for photos in the background. 

In something of a switch, Gordon and Rick Hendrick (owner of Hendrick Motors) extolled the virtues of the street-legal car, while Mark Reuss, GM's President of North American operations, talked about how the NASCAR version of the car has underpinnings in common with the street version, such as rear-wheel drive. 

Just to be clear, this is not "SS" the sub-brand, which is how you remember it if you were, say, 21 when "The Cars" (appropriately) released their first album. In the halcyon days of SS, the two letters identified muscle-bound versions of cars like the Chevelle and Impala. 

But the new SS is just...the SS. It's its own model. And like GM's last rear-wheel performance car, the Pontiac G8, it is built in Oz off the Holden platform. The SS is, in fact, based on Australia's Holden Commodore. 

Incidentally, I was in an Australian mince pie shop a few days ago (these Australian meat-pie joints are springing up like gum trees in Brooklyn) and an Australian couple said the SS is also a big deal Down Under these days. The Aussies are evidently all heated up about their version, the VF Commodore SS. This becomes too inside baseball for me, but the couple said the racing-buff community down there were "timbers-a-shiver" when Red Bull Racing Australia picked up the car for its race stable. So if you're a NASCAR fan stuck in Sydney because of a sequester-related flight delay, head over to Sydney Motorsport Park. Maybe you'll see Red Bull running hot laps in a Holden.

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