Most of the time, there are truck folks and car folks. I’m guessing these are truck people’s feelings towards the environmentally-concerned…But, this is how car people feel towards truck people…
While they may share some interests (big engines, burnouts, disturbing the peace), their vehicular interests rarely coincide. The Chevrolet El Camino and Ford Ranchero changed that here in America.
The Chevrolet El Camino went on sale as a 1959 model, and was based off of the Impala/Bel Air platform. The body style truly popularized the term, “business in the front, party in the back.” During the 1960s and 1970s, the El Camino was little more than a Chevelle with a pickup bed. Thus, it was offered with the legendary SS performance package, which gave it a big-block Chevrolet V-8 (396-454 cubic inches), an optional four-speed Muncie M-22 overdrive transmission, heavy-duty suspension, and for some odd reason, a vinyl roof (I have no idea why, plus it looks absolutely TERRIBLE!). A few El Camino’s were actually optioned with the rare LS6 performance package normally found in the Chevelle.
My favorite story about the El Camino is an owner of a 1970 LS6 El Camino saying that he would have to drive around with 300 pounds of concrete in the bed to prevent the tires from being shredded by simply putting the transmission in first gear! He got kicked out of quite a few drag strips because of that!
From 1978-1987, the El Camino was based on GM’s G-Body architecture, which it shared with the Chevrolet Malibu, Monte Carlo, Buick Regal, and Oldsmobile Cutlass. GMC sold a rare companion version of the El Camino, first called the GMC Sprint, and then the GMC Caballero.
Prior to GM’s 2009 bankruptcy, plans were made to import GM of Australia’s Holden Maloo ute as the Pontiac G8 ST, essentially a modern-day El Camino. But, Pontiac was killed during GM’s restructuring, and the would-be El Camino revival never came to fruition. That’s not to say that people haven’t been building custom El Camino’s over the past few years, basing them on the Chevrolet Camaro platform or the GMC Canyon/Chevrolet Colorado platform. GM’s announcements that it is permanently ceasing operations in Australia starting in 2017 essentially means that we will likely never see a factory El Camino again.
Wish one of my favorite vehicles a very happy birthday. I promise that I will do a blog post honoring the El Camino soon – I love it that much!
Until then, enjoy the pictures of the El Camino over the years!
Tell me which generation is your personal favorite. The final El Camino picture is completely ’80s, which is somewhat awesome! If I owned it, I would put in a modern LS3 crate engine and wreak havoc…