Poll Ranks Chevy SS Tops Among Production Versions of NASCAR Vehicles

24/7 Wall St.

The relationship between the cars you and I can buy at a dealer showroom and the souped-up versions that run in NASCAR’s Sprint Cup series is, shall we say, only skin-deep. Yet automakers spend millions of dollars on the racing cars and teams to generate a halo effect that they expect to generate dealer sales. It must work because NASCAR racing has been around for more than 60 years.

Auto industry valuation and information company Kelley Blue Book (KBB) recently posted a poll question on the firm’s website: If NASCAR drivers raced in everyday cars sold at dealerships, which model would perform best in the Sprint Cup Series? The winner: Chevrolet SS from General Motors Co. (GM), with 57% of the 587 votes cast. Ford Motor Co.’s (NYSE: F) Fusion finished second with 23% of the vote and the Camry from Toyota Motor Corp. (TM) finished third with 20% of the vote. Interestingly, that mirrors the order in NASCAR’s manufacturer’s standings.

KBB analyst Arthur Henry said the poll demonstrates that “the Chevrolet brand resonates for performance both in the racing realm and in the real world.” Henry also noted that recent wins for the Chevy SS “helped increase the model’s perception as an attainable performance vehicle.”

It may be attainable, but it is not exactly flying out of dealer showrooms. KBB’s third-place Toyota Camry has sold more than 262,000 vehicles so far in 2014. The second-place Ford Fusion has sold nearly 190,000 vehicles in the first seven months of the year. The Chevy SS has sold a total of 1,903 vehicles through the end of July.

The best-selling Chevy model so far in 2014 is the Chevy Cruze, with about 166,000 units sold and an MSRP of $18,345. The MSRP on a base model Chevy SS is $45,770, according to KBB. The base model 2014 Ford Fusion has an MSRP of $22,795 and the Toyota Camry’s base MSRP is $23,250.

Neither the Ford Fusion nor the Toyota Camry is available with a V8 engine, which is standard on the Chevy SS. So the odds that a Camry or a Fusion would outperform the Chevy SS are essentially nil. A fairer performance comparison may be with the Dodge Charger or Dodge Challenger, both of which are available with V8 engines and carry an MSRP of around $31,500. But Dodge doesn’t sponsor a NASCAR team, so it’s out of the running.

The Chevy SS, both as a racing car and a street model, has a single purpose: to attract buyers to Chevy showrooms. NASCAR fans might stop by to check out the car and a few may even shell out the $45,000 or more needed to drive one home. The rest of us will kick the tires and spend more time looking at Cruzes and Malibus.

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