Curbside Capsule: 2007 Chevrolet HHR Panel – Ice Cream Truck

c. 2007 Chevrolet HHR. Edgewater Glen, Chicago, Illinois. Tuesday, June 8, 2021.

Today marks the first official day of summer 2021 in the northern hemisphere.  It also happens to be Father’s Day.  It was my dad who was the parent to ask for change when the chimes of the ice cream truck had started to crescendo on or around our neighborhood block.  This isn’t to say that Dad often said “yes”.  It’s just that with him, there was at least some chance of a “yes”, versus asking my mom.  “There’s a half-gallon of vanilla in the freezer.  Eat some of that.”  “But, Mom!  It’s the ice cream truck!”  There was to be no foolishness, which was definitely okay, even if it didn’t feel like it at the time.  I have seen this HHR (which stood for “Heritage High Roof”) around my neighborhood before, but when I had taken this particular shot, I couldn’t decide if its custom paint job made it look more like a frozen treat or a lollipop.  It could represent either, but I went with the ice cream metaphor only because it’s now summer, and after all, one can enjoy a sucker year-round.

c. 2007 Chevrolet HHR ice cream graphic.

The HHR Panel variant of this model was introduced for 2007, this small Chevy’s second model year.  I can’t positively identify the model year of this example, as I didn’t get a shot of the license plate and also because this one was wearing a custom grille which eliminated another possible, positive identifier.  The rear seats in the Panel versions were completely absent, replaced by plastic storage bins.  The cargo area with its flat floor provided 57 cubic feet of area behind the front seats.  There were a couple of four-cylinder engines available in ’07, displacing 2.2 liters (149 hp) for the LS model, and 2.4 liters (175 hp) for the upmarket LT.  Available transmissions were a five-speed manual (remember shifting?) and a four-speed automatic.  I am a fan of designer Bryan Nesbitt’s retro-themed designs of this period, which included both this HHR and the similar Chrysler PT Cruiser.

Good Humor ice cream truck. Skokie, Illinois. Sunday, August 26, 2018.

(Chicago suburb) Skokie, Illinois.  Sunday, August 26, 2018.

Like a grape popsicle on a hot day, however, sales eventually melted, going from a high of just over 105,000 in 2007, the HHR’s third calendar year on the market, down to about 37,000 in 2011 before the plug was pulled.  With overall sales of just under 527,000 over seven official model years, these small crossovers sold well enough, and they still make me smile when I see them around.  If presented with a choice of flavors of popsicles right now, I’d probably reach for the purple or orange.  I also like vanilla ice cream.  The HHR’s aim seemed to combine retro styling with utility, a decent balance between fuel economy and performance, and an affordable price.  Granted, a grape-and-vanilla combo isn’t for everyone, but even if that particular pairing isn’t to your liking, credit is still due General Motors for trying something different.

Edgewater Glen, Chicago, Illinois.
Tuesday, June 8, 2021.