Jim’s Blog: The Super Sport Factor

Back in the day, SS cars were the hot ticket among the Chevrolet faithful. They were special, limited-run cars with more street cred than the rest — even if their only true differences were in the amount of bright trim outside, some interior upgrades inside, and usually — but not always — a hotter engine. Still, that SS badge mattered on the street, and it still matters when a car sells at auction today. Would you rather have a Camaro or a Camaro SS? A Malibu or a Chevelle SS?

Today, though, I get the sense that things are starting to change. Maybe it’s due to the SS cars having been fully valued for quite some time. They’re typically a bit too expensive for a younger gen of buyer. Maybe it’s because many of those younger buyers are more concerned with aftermarket upgrades than original trim.

It’s hard to make the call to resto-mod an expensive original SS Camaro, but a 6-cyl base-model? Most of us would say “have at it.”

Then, after it’s built with today’s minimalistic matte paints, big wheels and boosted LS power, that modded 6-cyl car probably won’t be wearing any add-on SS badges — and when it’s eventually posted on Instagram doing donuts in a parking lot, with smoke wafting off 20-inch Nittos and the LS sucking boost and bouncing off its rev limiter, a whole generation of kids sees a cool car sans SS. In that world, SS badges matter a lot less.

So where does that leave original SS cars?

I think it depends on who you are as a buyer. Collectors will always want the rare, limited-edition street cred models over everything else. In that sense, SS is still where it’s at. Values are safely above non-SS cars for these buyers and sellers — at least until demand drops below supply. Once special, always special.

For a next-gen buyer, however, dad’s old “hot ticket” is more limiting than lustworthy. The rarity of an SS car dictates what you can do with it comfortably, because so much perceived value is tied up in the badging and history surrounding the car. These buyers will look for non-SS or cloned cars for their builds, and that could very easily close the gap in pricing between models. Eventually I think we’ll see more of this type of buyer, as those Instagram viewers finally decide they want to play with cars, too.

As for me, the choice is simple: Both. Give me a big-block SS car and an LS-powered grandma-mobile on 20s. The SS car is to keep and show, and the LS car is for smoke, speed, and fun.

What about you?

2 comments

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  1. Jim, the last SS I had I sold because of some of the points that you pointed out. What I had was a 67 Chevelle SS *true 138*, and according to the ss blackbook one of only a few to exist with the opts (Turbo 400, 325 hp, Red/Red, bench, AC, ps, shoulder belts and clock). The car had about 30 years of AZ sun baked, but allowed me to drive anywhere and enjoy it never to worry about rock chips and where to park the car etc. When, I started to price out the work needed to the car to restore it, I felt for the investment I would rather have the LS car that I can drive than the glossy SS show queen. So, today when I see those 67’s done right, I do ask what if. However in the end I don’t mind the non SS, but instead of still looking for the more common seen (saved) cars I have been drawn to the unusual like my LS power 61 Buick Bubble top or hopefully my next adventure a 60 Edsel Ranger coupe or wagon with updated goodies or even a 70’s style custom van.

  2. There always was a buyer for the Malibu. The press just didn’t pay attention to them. For decades it was SS with no ink on any other model. Now we see buyers seeking out Heavy Chevy packages, even cloning them. Same thing with Pontiac Tempest GT 37 and budget T-37s. The hobby is big enough to handle stock and LS modded cars.