The camouflaged Chevrolet SS racecar being tested at Homestead-Miami Speedway in preparation for the 2013 NASCAR season

The camouflaged Chevrolet SS racecar being tested at Homestead-Miami Speedway in preparation for the 2013 NASCAR season

Chevrolet has confirmed an open secret - return of an Australian-made V8 powered, rear-wheel-drive performance sedan to the US lineup, the Holden Commodore-based Chevrolet SS. It will also be Chevrolet’s next NASCAR Sprint Cup racecar and will debut in its race configuration at the 2013 Daytona 500.

The limited production version of the Chevrolet SS will be a 2014 model and will arrive in dealer showrooms in late 2013. It will be the first time in 17 years that Chevrolet has offered a rear wheel drive sedan for sale in the US - that was the 1996 Impala.

The SS will be a derivative of the global rear wheel drive architecture underneath Chevrolet's Camaro and Holden’s upcoming VF Commodore redesign due out in 2014.

Holden has previously built Commodore derivatives for GM North America's now-defunct Pontiac brand - the 2008-2009 G8 based on the four-door Commodore sedan and the 2003-2006 GTO based on the previous generation Monaro two-door coupe.

GM Holden’s executive director of engineering, Greg Tyus, said Chevrolet and its customers would benefit from Holden’s proven expertise in developing and manufacturing rear wheel drive vehicles.

“Holden has a great track record of producing performance cars for GM and the world,” Tyus said. "We were responsible for the design and engineering of the Chevrolet Camaro, VE Commodore was sold as the Pontiac G8 and we are currently exporting the Chevrolet Caprice Police Patrol Vehicle - so we understand the needs of the North American market."

Tyus highlighted that although exporting in the current economic environment was difficult, Holden vehicle exports were up 54% last year compared to 2010.

"This announcement shows that we can, and will, continue to pursue targeted, profitable export programmes that add value to Holden and GM.

“We continue to export our engineering and design capability around the GM world and we have significant vehicle export programmes to the Middle East, New Zealand and North America.

“I’m incredibly proud of the talent we have here at Holden to design, engineer and build performance vehicles that appeal to both local and overseas markets and the new VF Commodore will be no different.

“Our expertise in this arena is second to none and highlights the flexibility of Holden’s Elizabeth manufacturing operations.  It's great to have secured this new export programme that will continue to support our plant."

Chevrolet has a long history of using the SS (Super Sport) designation on high-performance models of some of its most enduring nameplates. The SS designation first appeared in 1957 on a Corvette prototype race car built under the guidance of Zora Arkus-Duntov with the plan to enter it in the Le Mans 24-hour race.

The first production vehicle offered with an SS option was the 1961 Impala – 453 were built with the performance upgrades which included a modified chassis and suspension, power brakes, a steering column mounted tachometer and unique wheels and tyres. The latest SS model in the Chevrolet lineup is the fifth-generation Camaro, which arrived in 2010.

“As a passionate race fan and performance enthusiast, I am thrilled that Chevrolet will deliver a true rear-wheel-drive NASCAR racecar in the SS that is closely linked to the performance sedan that will be available for sale,” said Mark Reuss, president of GM North America.  “The Chevrolet SS is a great example of how GM is able to leverage its global product portfolio to deliver a unique performance experience that extends beyond the track. I am personally looking forward to driving it.”