Chevrolet’s El Camino Celebrates 56 Years9
That paean to the Great American Redneck, the Chevrolet El Camino, just celebrated 56 years since being introduced on October 16, 1958. It has had an on-again/off-again existence, almost returning as the Aussie-inspired Pontiac G8 ST several years ago, but the El Camino is a vehicle that’s warm to a lot of people’s hearts.
The El Camino was Chevrolet’s answer to the Ford Ranchero, which found success in 1957. Interestingly enough, Ford downsized the Ranchero to the Falcon platform in 1960, giving Chevrolet the full-size pickup-sedan market . . . or maybe not, as Chevrolet cancelled the El Camino after 1960 due to less-than-stellar sales. However, with the introduction of the 1964 Chevelle, Chevrolet created a quasi-new segment as the new El Camino was sized between the old one and the Falcon-based Ranchero. Ford decided to meet Chevrolet head-on with the Fairlane-based Ranchero in 1966, and then the direct competition resumed.
The El Camino continued on through 1987, and then was laid to rest when Chevrolet decided to go with FWD. During the El Camino’s tenure, there were several opportunities to create a parts hauler par excellence:
- 1959 with fuel-injected 283
- 1960 with tri-carbed 348
- 1965 with L79 327/350
- 1969 Super Sport with L78 396/375 and L89 aluminum heads
- 1970 Super Sport with LS6 454/450
- 1971 GMC Sprint SP with LS5 454/365
That right − for several years, GMC had their own version of the El Camino called the Sprint, with the SP being akin to Chevy’s SS.
Holden still builds a Ute, but with the impending doom headed down Australia’s way, it remains to be seen what Holden plans for its beloved Ute. Until then, the 56-year-old El Camino’s spirit resides in Australia.
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There are lots of these still living here in L.A. I think GM is missing an opportunity.
It’s a case of the bean counters run amok as far as I’m concerned. I wish they still made them and wouldn’t mind having one based off the Ute.
Cool idea, but how much would you pay for what would surely be an extremely low volume, high production cost vehicle? BTW the Holden UTE starts at about $38k AUS, ($33K US) and runs up to $54k AUS ($47k US).
I still miss my 1972 GMC Sprint SP.
How can you celebrate a vehicle no longer in existence? Mourn it’s loss maybe.
My new Silverado W/T stickered for over $28k, so $33K for a better looking Ute really isn’t that out of whack. Agree with gdvalente, GM missing another opportunity!
Funny how the Rancheo was first to market and how it provoked GM to make the El Camino. By that measure, you’d think that the Ranchero was the archetype worthy of reverence and that everything else after it was a mere copy of the orginal.
History, popular opinion, and popular culture ONLY remembers the El Camino; say the name to others and they know exactly what car and what form you mean. They could draw it, they could describe it.
I have a 65 Ranchero and would make a GM ute my next new truck if they would build it.
The Rancho in America is a largely forgotten story.
Whole the El Camino is still around a great numbers the Rancho for the most part rotted away in to the rust bins of history. So many of them in areas of anything but dry conditions has major rust issues that plagued Ford in the years it was built. Not that the Camino was rust free but it did hold up well enough that there are enough to make repo parts for them and restoration much more likely.
I see a Rancho find now and then that was stored away and in good condition but rarely have I seen one that just was used and abused and had enough to restore anymore.
I just saw a 70 not long ago that was stored away with a 4 speed. Nice car and very restorable.
With repo parts I can nearly build a new Camino from parts as that much is offered.