Sounding more like former Chrysler Corp. product wizard Robert Lutz than a typically reserved General Motors Corp. CEO, G. Richard Wagoner Jr. made it official: The Chevy SSR retro pickup truck is going into production. It will be available in dealerships in "late 2002," he promises.

Stunned insiders say they've never heard of a new GM product being announced without an iron-clad business plan. Mr. Wagoner acknowledges as much in his comments. "We don't have every detail buttoned down for the SSR, but look at that truck!" he gushes. And frankly, the fact that we don't have all of the details to offer you on the Chevy SSR today says something in itself," he adds, using the swift development of the SSR as an example of how the new "big and fast" GM is shedding its stodgy image.

Mr. Lutz, known in the industry as the consummate "car guy" bolstered Chrysler Corp.'s stale image with bold, unresearched product initiatives for cars such as the Dodge Viper, Plymouth Prowler and lastly, the new PT Cruiser.

"We know we can do it," says Mr. Wagoner about the SSR." That's good enough for me! How many? How much? Those answers will be decided soon. Bottom line, you're going to be able to buy this vehicle," he says.

In his effort to bury the company's reputation as a maker of bland, uninspired cars and trucks, Mr. Wagoner promises to announce in the next few months that more of GM's latest concept vehicles will be heading into production.