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Chevrolet SS, the export Holden Commodore, hits US sales highlight

By Barry Park, 06 Nov 2017 News

2016 Chevrolet SS

The US export version of the Commodore SS-V Redline pegs its best annual sales result, but it’s all too little, too late

THE Chevrolet SS – the export version of the Holden Commodore SS-V Redline – has just posted its best sales year on record.

The left-hand-drive Commodore’s 150 US sales in October ticked the year-to-date total over to 3131, taking its sales past last year’s full-year result of 3013 sales.

That number is expected to jump dramatically, though; after cutting 20 percent from the price of the $US48,920 ($A64,000) four-door performance sedan earlier this year, Chevrolet is believed to be offering even deeper discounts in its efforts to clear what stock still remains at dealerships.

According to US new car sales website Autotrader, more than 560 Chev SS sedans remain unsold, with most listed for around $US36,500, or the equivalent of about $48,000. Of those, only 45 are listed as having a manual gearbox.

The last export Chevrolet SS, a Phantom Black manual LS3, was built at Holden’s now-shuttered Elizabeth production line in May. In its last 12 months of production, Holden built 4008 of the 6.2-litre V8 performance sedans.

Want more? Check out our 39 years of Commodore

Sales of the SS soared earlier this year to a record 1217 in March as buyers lapped up the deep discount applied to what US car enthusiast magazine Road and Track described as “so good, we deemed it worthy of comparison to the all-time benchmark sports sedan, the E39-chassis BMW M5”.

Chevrolet SS exports were a small boon for Holden in the wake of the 2008 Global Financial Crisis that effectively shut down its former lucrative export program to the US and the Middle East. However, the GFC was to have a much deeper impact on the car maker, killing off General Motors’ plans to use the Zeta-based chassis under a number of new global rear-drive products that would put Holden on the map as a homeroom for large rear-drive development.

But the reborn export program was crippled by even more setbacks, with US Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards penalising car makers for having big-engined, heavy vehicles in their showrooms. It relegated the Australian designed and built Chevrolet SS as a niche player in the market in which it had the most potential.

The Zeta program did produce a couple of other successes, such as the Canadian-built Chevrolet Camaro, and the long-wheelbase Holden Caprice sold in the US as the Chevrolet Caprice Police Pursuit Vehicle.