Chevrolet El Camino
Reviewed by Unique Cars and Parts
Our Rating: 2
Many consider it unfair that the El Camino is so readily associated with ethnic and class stereotypes. Australia may be the birth place of the utility, but for the US market it was the Ford Ranchero and Chevy El Camino that introduced the notion of a vehicle offering car like comfort combined with truck like carrying capabilities.
Back in 1959, Chevrolet were envious of the success that Ford were having with their Ranchero (first released in 1957). Deciding that they too needed a utility type vehicle, the El Camino was born from the existing Impala sedan.
The name El Camino meant "The Road" in Spanish, and Chevrolet stressed its car like platform and styling, which was combined with the functionality of a truck bed. Many of the Impala's styling cues were carried over to the El Camino, including the trademark "cat's eyes" taillights and wings. The front end was entirely Impala, as was most of the interior trim.
However production of the Impala based El Camino was to only last for 2 years. It was not until the release of the Chevelle sedan in 1964 that Chevrolet had a suitable donor car for the new model El Camino. But most importantly, Chevrolet could now offer the utility with the performance options previously only available in the sedan lineup.
The El Camino and Chevelle shared most of their underpinnings and powertrains (including the high performance engines). Even "SS" versions would debut in 1968 and firmly establish the El Camino as a muscle car/truck. Engine sizes included the 283 V8 producing 195 to 220bhp., and the 327 V8 producing 250 to 350bhp.