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Do you know your SS from the RS? Immerse yourself and find out

The all-new 2014 Chevrolet SS performance sedan is Chevrolet's first rear wheel drive performance sedan in 17 years. The SS will also be ChevroletþÄôs racing car entry in the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup series.
Photograph by: Lisa Calvi

One daughter is finishing up her B.Ed. Another is becoming an R.N. The oldest has wrapped up her M.S.W. and just became an M-R-S.

These acronyms are easy to understand, almost universal in meaning and not difficult to call to mind when necessary.

Then there are those letters like SS, GT, RS, R/T. What the heck do these ones mean? Many of you will know immediately, considering the section of the newspaper in which this column appears.

After 17 years in the automotive industry, I still have to rifle through the drawers in my head to make sure I get the words right before I speak them aloud.

My favourite aspect about writing this column is how much I get to learn when I interview people in the industry, research automotive history, drive a vehicle with some neat new technology, travel to an unfamiliar destination or discover something new in an already-visited one.

A perfect example of this is the research trip I took a few years ago to write about the launch of the C6 generation Chevrolet Corvette.

My husband and I took a screaming yellow 7.0-litre 505-horsepower 2006 Z06 Corvette on a tour around Canada’s Maritime provinces. Our mission: Hunt down owners of Corvettes from each generation. We drive theirs, they drive ours. Heaven.

Before launching on that expedition, I immersed myself in the history of the iconic vehicle, memorizing years, engine specifications and distinguishing factors of each generation. C1. C2. C3. C4. C5. C6.

Acronyms in memory bank

Those pesky numbers on tires?

I studied those too. I’ve only had to use that knowledge once.

It really, really impressed the person I was talking to.

Some of this newly acquired information goes in one ear, hangs around for a little while, then goes out the other. There’s only so much room in there. So if you’re going to ask me something about the six, now seven, generations of Corvettes, do it quickly.

As I write this column, the new generation of NASCAR vehicles have scorched the pavement and torn their way around those 31-degree banked turns of the Daytona International Speedway. Last weekend’s 55th running of the Daytona 500, the Great American Race, got me thinking about the letters SS.

Chevrolet’s new generation of NASCAR vehicle is called simply ‘SS.’ It’s Chevrolet’s first V8, rear-wheel-drive performance sedan since 1996. Its race-tested, global rear-wheel drive architecture is what’s under the Camaro, the Caprice Police Patrol Vehicle and Holden’s VF Commodore.

The 2014 Chevrolet SS, with racing DNA and soon to appear on a street near you, is powered by the 6.2-litre LS3 Chevrolet V8 engine, expected to deliver 415 horsepower and 415 lbs.-ft of torque.

‘SS’ stands for Super Sport.

It’s Chevrolet’s signature performance package available historically on a limited number of a certain vehicle.

It was first introduced in 1961 when the ‘SS’ kit was offered on the Impala. For somewhere just under $60, you got Super Sport trim for both the interior and exterior, chassis reinforcements, stronger springs and shocks, power brakes, spinner wheel covers and narrow-band whitewall tires. Sporty.

Then there’s RS. Which can stand for Rally Sport, designating a vehicle that is classed for rally racing, which means the vehicle is slightly modified but it’s street legal and races, not on a circuit, but on a public or private road course between set control points.

Rally racing requires a driver/navigator team where one never doubts the other. Not a great first date.

RS to the Germans means Racing Sport. I like the Germans thinking on this one because my true love, the Audi TT RS, carries this designation and does so with great enthusiasm. Other ‘Racing Sport’ loves with which I’d consider having an affair are the Porsche 911 Carrera RS or GT3 RS. Really Sporty.

RS also stands for Ford Racing’s Rallye Sport, included in the Ford TeamRS name. Now my head is Really Spinning.

R/T is Dodge’s version of Chevrolet’s SS. It stands for Rip/Tear. No wait, that’s not right. It’s Road/Track. And since the 1960s, it meant better suspension, tires, brakes and more power. Today, when you see it on a Dodge Caravan with three bouncing kids and a dog’s muzzle pressed up to the window, Rip/Tear takes on a whole new meaning.

GT is a far-reaching acronym that traces its roots back to the Italian tradition of naming their luxury performance vehicles ‘gran turismo,’ or grand touring.

Today, GT is synonymous with race versions of sports cars but its true definition is a high-performance luxury automobile designed for high-speed long-distance travel in comfort and style. My kind of acronym.

Throw in GTO (gran turismo omologato, that’s approved and certified for gran turismo racing); mix in a pinch of GTS (Spider or Sport) and a smidgen of GTB (Berlinetta); add a dash of injection to get a GTi and you’ll end up with a recipe for confusion!

I know I’ve only scratched the surface, but I feel better. Just don’t wait too long to ask me what the GTV stands for on the Alfa Romeo GTV. These things disappear quickly.

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