Enough of this Political Crap, Let's Talk About What's REALLY Important

5 secrets of the Chevrolet El Camino

plus a few more I added in red.
Published October 25, 2013
Hagerty
  • HAGERTY
Lately, Chevy has been in the business of either resurrecting or actually doing justice to nameplates of the past (see the new Impala, SS and Camaro).  Still in the wilderness, however, is the much-loved El Camino. Part car, part pickup, hope springs eternal that it might make a comeback. But until then, here are some things most people don’t know about it:
  1. Bill Clinton Owned One: The 42nd President of the United States drove a 1970 El Camino with a bed lined in Astroturf. Enough said.
  2. GM Still Builds It: Well, sort of. GM’s Australian division, Holden (which gave us two of the last great cars to wear the Pontiac badge, the G8 and the final GTO), builds the very El Camino-like Holden Ute, which is badged as a Chevy in the Middle East. Rumors persist that if the El Camino name returns to the U.S. for 2015, it will be based on this car.
  3. It Had a Forgotten Twin: The GMC division offered the El Camino’s identical twin from 1971-87 under two names, the Sprint and Caballero.
  4. Ford beat Chevy to the Punch: Ford often seemed to have the better idea first (the Mustang beat the Camaro to market, the Bronco beat the Blazer, etc.), and so it was with the Ranchero, the first post-war coupe utility to hit the market in 1957. But it was the more flamboyant El Camino, which debuted two years later in 1959, that really captured the public’s imagination. It outlasted the Ranchero, too, staying on the market for eight more model years.
  5. It Could Embarrass Some Real Performance Cars: For a few model years during the horsepower wars, Chevy offered the El Camino with some of the high-performance engine options from the muscle car Chevelle. This reached its zenith in 1970, when a select few people actually ordered an El Camino with the famous LS6 option, which consisted of a 450-hp, 454-ci engine.  Capable of quarter-mile times of around 13 seconds, LS6 El Caminos are highly sought after today by collectors of American muscle.

  6. El Caminos were produced in ‘59 and ‘60, but were not made in ‘61, ‘62, or ‘63.  The first two years, they were built on the full size Chevy platform, after that, they were built on the mid-size Chevelle platform.
  7. When I worked as a Chevy salesman in 1988, a  clean, used ‘87 El camino could already bring more than it’s original sticker price.  I saw it happen with my own eyes,
  8. From what I could tell by looking at one that had been in an accident, it appears that that at least part of the original factory metal bumper remains behind the SS Monte Carlo style front end on Choo Choo conversion SS El Caminos.
  9. Although you’d never know it, ‘70 El Caminos and wagons front fenders are different than regular Chevelles.
  10. What killed off the El Camino was the introduction of mini-pickup trucks. (S-10, Ranger, and imports)  They were about half the price.
  11. It was probably the polarizing car ever made.  You either loved or hated them.
  12. If you like the El Camino style, but are a Pontiac, Olds, or Buick fan, any late ‘70’s or ‘80’s GM G-body front clip is pretty much a direct bolt on affair.
  13. No matter what anyone says, if done correctly, El Camino 4x4 conversions are cool.

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