Chevrolet El Camino Classic Cars Pickup 1959-1987 – Introduced in 1959, the Chevrolet El Camino was a surprisingly nice blend between supercars and utility vehicle. Attentive people have noticed since a long time ago in automotive history that typical recipe for a supercar is impracticality, childish design, lightweight body, and massive engine to produce superb power. Chevrolet division of General Motors took a different approach which gave birth to the El Camino.
As far as coupe utility is concerned, Chevrolet El Camino was not the first. It was actually Ford Australia who built the first of such platform with Ute in 1934. The story started with a simple letter from a farmer’s wife (you could imagine Australia had plenty of those, maybe until today it still does) demanding for vehicle design civilized enough to go to church on Sunday yet practical enough to take the pigs to the market on Monday; stupid simple yet far from unreasonable. The American people, probably still in the attempt to convince the world that they could do without sophistications and engineering solutions from other countries let alone Australia, were not interested yet, until Ford Ranchero came to the scene in 1957. Chevrolet El Camino followed suit two years later.
Chevrolet fitted El Camino with three engine options; the fastest one was 4.6L V8 that produced a whopping 335 horsepower. A bigger engine was also available, a 5.7L V8 but it generated only about 315bhp. With better styling than the more conventional competitor, initial productions of Chevrolet El Camino surpassed that of the Ranchero. Chevrolet managed to sell around 22,000 units in the first year, compared to only about 14,000 sales made by Ford. In 1960, however, things went wayward for Chevrolet because baby boomers liked Ford’s offering much better mainly thanks to the new styling based on Ford Falcon. With plummeting sales, Chevrolet ended the production of El Camino entirely in the same year.
In 1964, Chevrolet made a comeback and this time El Camino was built upon the Chevelle platform. There were many more engine options including three straight-6 and three V8 packages throughout the production spans than ended in 1967. The most powerful engine available for the second generation was the absurdly massive 6.5L Big-Block V8 which produced up to 375 horsepower. In total, Chevrolet made 137,221 second generation El Camino units.
Rolling up in the production line from 1968 to 1972, Chevrolet built 241,826 third-generation El Camino units. During the first year, Chevrolet launched a performance package called the Super Sport SS396 powered by a 6.5L Turbo-Jet V8 to generate 350 horsepower. Later productions of SS396 version had various different configurations, and some models actually had bigger engine displacement despite the badge. Select few El Camino units were fitted with then Chevrolet’s largest and most powerful engine, 7.4L V8 generating 450bhp.
Chevrolet El Camino reached its largest size in the fourth generation produced from 1973 to 1977. There were several trims available including the base model, SS, and El Camino Classic. The most powerful engine fitted in the third generation was still in use, but Chevrolet implemented a good number of changes in features. Front disc brakes were now standard as well as computer-operated coil spring in each wheel for smoother ride. There were many more options too such as bucket seat (in a pick-up truck, seriously), and double-panel roof.
Available from 1978 to 1987, the fifth generation Chevrolet El Camino came in four trim options including Classic, Black Knight/Royal Knight, Conquista/Super Sport, and Malibu Chassis. The one that shared chassis components with Chevrolet Malibu resulted in a completely different chassis used exclusively on El Camino. The monstrous 7.4L V8 was no longer in use for the generation. Chevrolet offered 8 configurations; two of which were Diesel V8 and Buick V6.
There have been rumors that Chevrolet is going to revive the El Camino. Until there is factual confirmation published in a reputable media, you must consider everything fake. You probably have seen renderings of new Chevrolet El Camino, but they are almost certainly lies.
It is probably better that the El Camino stays what it is as it stands today, a true classic Chevrolet that’s cooler than even the newest hottest hybrid on the market. While it was never intended to be a supercar, surely the performance and styling was pretty darn close to one; if super-truck existed, El Camino would be the first to get in the line.