What happens when you mix American muscle with the utility of a truck? Take a trip through the years of the unique street beast that is the Chevrolet El Camino.
1970 El Camino SS – carsforsale.com | Shop El Camino on Carsforsale.com
More than a car – more than a truck. The Chevrolet El Camino was built tough enough to get chores done on the farm, yet sporty enough to run down the dragstrip and cruise boldly around downtown. In its prime, it wasn’t uncommon in the summer to see an El Camino’s bed full of people on their way to the lake. And then in the fall, seen powering through the field for harvest. The El Camino is a favorite for car enthusiasts and collectors, having identical performance to the Chevy Chevelle, but usually at half the price of that or other muscle cars and trucks from the era. Let’s take a look back through the years of the baddest ute that ever existed – the Chevrolet El Camino.
Built in response to the Ford Ranchero, the original Chevrolet El Camino was introduced in 1959 and touted as the “Handiest helper a family ever had!” Based on the 1959 Brookwood station wagon platform, but was available with any drivetrain option corresponding to the car line. The El Camino’s debut run was short lived but showed promise out of the gate.
Chevrolet introduced an all-new El Camino in 1964. Based on the same platform as the Chevrolet Chevelle wagon, the El Camino was initially reintroduced without powerful engines since it was mainly considered a utility offering for Chevrolet. However, the El Camino would eventually be granted far better engines as the pony car era gained traction.
Falling back a bit to its roots, the third generation El Camino was based on a longer Chevelle station wagon/sedan wheelbase. This introduced a longer El Camino with Chevelle Malibu interior and exterior trims. The third generation saw many firsts but would be hit by the same safety and emissions regulations of the 70s that other muscle cars were stifled by.
The largest El Caminos fall in the fourth generation and get a significant facelift and redesign. 1973’s oil crisis would have a big impact on the midsize category going forward, and because the El Camino shared so much with the Chevelle, it too would feel the effects.
For the first time, the El Camino had a unique chassis, not shared with any other Chevrolet. It would share a front-end, rear tailgate, and bumper with the Malibu station wagon along with sporting doors from the Monte Carlo. This was the final iteration in the El Camino’s lifespan due to dwindling sales and lessened public interest.
Rumors have been circulating for years about the return of the Chevrolet El Camino. GM has produced at least two concepts since 1987, and to add to the speculation, GM renewed the “El Camino” trademark in 2012.
1970 El Camino SS advertisement – gm.com | Shop El Camino on Carsforsale.com