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Trail of clues leading to Chevrolet SS nameplate

Thu, 26 Apr 2012

Connecting the dots that lead to Chevrolet's as-yet-unnamed new model seems to lead back to one storied name: SS.

The latest clue that a rear-wheel-drive performance sedan named simply SS could soon join nameplates such as Malibu and Suburban in Chevy's lineup came from an unlikely source: GM itself.

A page on the OnStar Web site had listed the GM models that are compatible with a mobile app that gives owners remote vehicle access through their smartphones. Curiously, there was a tab for the 2014 model year (even though it'll be another year before any of those hit showrooms).

Under the list of '14 Chevy models, sandwiched right between Silverado and Traverse, was the name SS Performance.

That nugget came to me courtesy of Christopher Price, a tech blogger who says he stumbled across the apparent blunder while looking up the OnStar vehicle profile for his 2009 Pontiac G6.

The list of 2014 models disappeared from the OnStar site this afternoon, after I called GM for comment.

Another clue: Last week, the Web site GM Authority reported that GM has filed for U.S. patent rights that would trademark the SS badge.

The blogosphere has been abuzz with speculation since last month, when GM confirmed that it will replace Chevy's current NASCAR entry, the Impala, with a new race car. GM said a production version will closely match the race car and will hit Chevy showrooms wearing a new nameplate.

The smart money is betting on a civilian version of the V-8-powered, rear-wheel-drive Chevrolet Caprice PPV, which GM now imports for police fleets from its Holden unit in Australia.

Whether it's the Caprice or another rwd performance sedan, more and more signs point to it being named SS, or Super Sport, a name first given to a performance package on the 1961 Impala. Since then, the SS badge has adorned dozens of performance Chevys.

A GM spokesman declined to comment on OnStar's apparent goof.

"We're not ready to make any additional announcements or confirm or deny the name, platform or configuration," he said.

The list on the OnStar site seemed to give up another tidbit not yet confirmed by GM. The Cadillac ELR plug-in hybrid will be offered as a 2014 model, the site showed. GM has confirmed future plans for the ELR but hasn't discussed timing.

Of course, GM could be playing us. After all, it must have known that confirming plans for a new Chevy model months in advance would rev up the rumor mill.

When I interviewed him this month at the New York auto show, GM North America President Mark Reuss mused at the thought of auto scribes poring over future spy photos of the camouflaged NASCAR, trying to peg the model.

He chuckled: "It's like looking for Waldo."

Expect an announcement late this year.

By Mark Colias- Automotive News