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Chevrolet El Camino

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

El Camino
Vehicle Model

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Wikipedia: Chevrolet El Camino

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A "pickup car," a version of a regular Chevrolet car but with two seats and a pickup bed. Produced from 1959-1960 and again from 1964 to 1987.

El Camino is Spanish for "The Road."

The 2001 song "Fat Lip" by Sum 41 begins with "Strollin' to the party like my name is El Niño, Well I'm hangin' out drinking in the back of an El Camino."
A late 1960's custom Chevrolet El Camino appears on the cover of the 2017 book Dedd House by Jamey LeVier

History

The following section is an excerpt from Wikipedia's Chevrolet El Camino page on 30 May 2017, text available via the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Chevrolet El Camino is a coupé utility/pickup vehicle that was produced by Chevrolet between 1959–60 and 1964-87.

Introduced in the 1959–1960 model years in response to the success of the Ford Ranchero pickup, its first run lasted only two years. Production resumed for the 1964–1977 model years based on the Chevelle platform, and continued for the 1978–1987 model years based on the GM G-body platform.

Although based on corresponding Chevrolet car lines, the vehicle is classified and titled in North America as a truck. GMC's badge engineered El Camino variant, the Sprint, was introduced for the 1971 model year. Renamed Caballero in 1978, it was also produced through the 1987 model year.

Ford Australia was the first company to produce a coupé utility as a result of a 1932 letter from the wife of a farmer in Victoria, Australia, asking for "a vehicle to go to church in on a Sunday and which can carry our pigs to market on Mondays". Ford designer Lew Bandt developed a suitable solution, and the first coupé utility model was released in 1934. Bandt went on to manage Ford’s Advanced Design Department, being responsible for the body engineering of the XP, XT, XW, and XA series Ford Falcon utilities. General Motors’ Australian subsidiary Holden also produced a Chevrolet coupé utility in 1935, Studebaker produced the Coupé Express from 1937 to 1939. The body style did not reappear on the American market until the release of the 1957 Ford Ranchero.

Both the coupé utility and the similar open-topped roadster utility continued in production, but the improving economy of the mid- to late-1930s and the desire for improved comfort saw coupé utility sales climb at the expense of the roadster utility until, by 1939, the latter was all but a fading memory.

The mid-1955 introduction of Chevrolet's Cameo Carrier pickup truck helped pave the way for the El Camino. Although it was a model variant of Chevrolet's Task Force light-duty pickup, the Cameo offered an array of car-like features that included passenger-car styling, fiberglass rear fenders, two-tone paint, a relatively luxurious interior, as well as an optional V8 engine, automatic transmission, and power assists. As always, there was a GMC version offered during the same time, called the GMC Suburban Carrier with the same features offered on the Chevrolet. In 1957 a special version was made for GMC to be shown at national car shows called the Palomino, which had a Pontiac 347 cu in (5.7 L) V8 installed, borrowed from the 1957 Star Chief.

Other pickup truck producers, including Dodge, Ford, Studebaker, and International, began to offer flush-side cargo boxes on some of their 1957 models, such as the Dodge C Series, and the Studebaker E-series Deluxe. However, Ford also introduced the 1957 Ranchero, and established a new market segment in the U.S. market of an automobile platform based coupé utility. In 1959, Chevrolet responded with the El Camino to compete with Ford's full-sized Ranchero. The original El Camino and Ranchero would compete directly only in the 1959 model year.

First generation (1959–1960)

The El Camino was introduced for the 1959 model year two years after the Ford Ranchero. According to Chevrolet stylist Chuck Jordan, GM Harley Earl had suggested a coupé pickup in 1952.

Like the Ranchero, it was based on an existing and modified platform, the new-for-1959 Brookwood two-door station wagon, itself based on the completely redesigned, longer, lower and wider full-sized Chevrolet. Highly stylized, it initially sold 50% more briskly than the more conservative Ranchero, some 22,000 to 14,000.

Unlike the Brookwoods wagon and a sedan delivery variant, the El Camino was available with any full-sized Chevy drivetrain. It came in a single trim level, its exterior using the mid-level Bel-Air's trim, and the interior of the low-end Biscayne.

Second generation (1964–1967)

Chevrolet reintroduced an all new, mid-size El Camino four years later based on the Chevrolet Chevelle. The 1964 model was similar to the Chevelle two-door wagon forward of the B-pillars and carried both "Chevelle" and "El Camino" badges, but Chevrolet marketed the vehicle as a utility model and Chevelle's most powerful engines were not available. Initial engine offerings included six-cylinder engines of 194 and 230 cubic inches with horsepower ratings of 120 and 155, respectively. The standard V8 was a 283 cubic-inch Chevy small block with two-barrel carburetor and 195 horsepower (145 kW) with optional engines including a 220-horsepower 283 with four-barrel carburetor and dual exhausts. Added to the El Camino's option list during the course of the 1964 model year were two versions of the 327 cubic-inch small block V8 rated at 250 and 300 horsepower (220 kW) — the latter featuring a higher compression ratio of 10.5:1, larger four-barrel carburetor and dual exhausts. El Caminos also featured Air shocks in the rear,as well as fully boxed frames. The shocks were continued over all generations, the frames only thru 1967.

Third generation (1968–1972)

Chevy introduced a longer El Camino in 1968, based on the Chevelle station wagon/four-door sedan wheelbase (116 in (2,946 mm), overall length: 208 in (5,283 mm)); it also shared Chevelle Malibu exterior and interior trims. The interior was revamped including cloth and vinyl or all-vinyl bench seats and deep twist carpeting. All-vinyl Strato bucket seats and center console were an $111 option. Power front disc brakes and Positraction were optional. A new, high-performance Super Sport SS396 version was launched. The Turbo-Jet 396 had 325 bhp (242 kW) or 350 bhp (260 kW) versions. Returning to the official options list for the first time since late 1966 was the 375 bhp (280 kW) L78. It had solid lifters, big-port heads, and an 800 cfm Holley four-barrel on a low-rise aluminum manifold. A three-speed manual was standard with all engines, and a four-speed or automatic was optional. In 1968, the SS was a separate model (the "SS-396").

Fourth generation (1973–1977)

For 1973, the El Camino was redesigned. Matching the Chevelle line and using the wagon chassis, it was the largest El Camino generation. Energy-absorbing hydraulic front bumper systems on these vehicles added more weight. There were two different trim levels of El Caminos during this period. The base model and SS option shared interior and exterior appointments with the Chevelle Malibu, while the El Camino Classic (introduced for 1974) shared its trim with the more upscale Chevelle Malibu Classic.

Fifth generation (1978–1987)

The 1978 through 1987 El Caminos were produced in four trim levels: Classic, Black Knight (1978)/Royal Knight (1979–83), Conquista and Super Sport, and shared chassis components with the Chevrolet Malibu. Chevrolet 90° V6 and Buick V6 engines were used for the first time. The optional 305 cubic-inch small block V8 was rated at 150 or 165 horsepower (123 kW), and from 1982–1984, the Oldsmobile-sourced Diesel engine was also optional.

A new, trimmer El Camino was unveiled in 1978, adopting the new, more sharp-edged Malibu styling, and a one-inch longer wheelbase of 117 in (2,972 mm). The front end sheet metal and doors were shared with the Malibu, and the rear tailgate and bumper was shared with the Malibu station wagon. For the first time, though, the El Camino had a unique chassis - it was shared with no other Chevrolet. The front end featured a new single rectangular headlight design. The base engine was a 200-cubic-inch (3.3-liter) V6 that developed 95 horsepower (71 kW), except in California where, to meet emissions standards, the 231-cubic-inch Buick engine was the base engine . Two upgrades could be ordered: a 305-cubic-inch V8 with 145 horsepower (108 kW), or a 350-cubic-inch V8 with 170 horsepower (130 kW) that was only available in El Caminos and Malibu station wagons. It was not available on Malibu passenger cars (with exception to coupe and sedan Malibu 9C1 police vehicles). Among GM makes, at least, the era of bigness was fading into history, overtaken by a new age of efficiency and economy.


Photographs

Custom 1955 Chevrolet El Camino Model Custom 1955
AMT kit
Photo ©2009 Bill Crittenden
2009 Summer NNL hosted by GTR Auto Modelers
View photo of Custom 1955 Chevrolet El Camino Model - 3,153KB
Custom 1955 Chevrolet El Camino Model Custom 1955
AMT kit
Photo ©2009 Bill Crittenden
2009 Summer NNL hosted by GTR Auto Modelers
View photo of Custom 1955 Chevrolet El Camino Model - 3,150KB
Custom 1955 Chevrolet El Camino Model Custom 1955
AMT kit
Photo ©2009 Bill Crittenden
2009 Summer NNL hosted by GTR Auto Modelers
View photo of Custom 1955 Chevrolet El Camino Model - 2,937KB
Drag Racing 1965 Chevrolet El Camino Model Drag Racing 1965
Photo ©2012 Bill Crittenden
2012 Classic Plastic
View photo of Drag Racing 1965 Chevrolet El Camino Model - 2.0MB
Drag Racing 1965 Chevrolet El Camino Model Drag Racing 1965
Photo ©2012 Bill Crittenden
2012 Classic Plastic
View photo of Drag Racing 1965 Chevrolet El Camino Model - 1.8MB
Pro Touring 1966 Chevrolet El Camino Model Car "Pro Touring" 1966
Photo ©2013 Bill Crittenden
2013 GTR Summer NNL
View photo of Pro Touring 1966 Chevrolet El Camino Model Car - 3.3MB
Pro Touring 1966 Chevrolet El Camino Model Car "Pro Touring" 1966
Photo ©2013 Bill Crittenden
2013 GTR Summer NNL
View photo of Pro Touring 1966 Chevrolet El Camino Model Car - 3.2MB
Pro Touring 1966 Chevrolet El Camino Model Car "Pro Touring" 1966
Photo ©2013 Bill Crittenden
2013 GTR Summer NNL
View photo of Pro Touring 1966 Chevrolet El Camino Model Car - 3.3MB
1970 Chevrolet El Camino Model 1970
Photo ©2011 Bill Crittenden
2011 Attack of the Plastic
July 10, 2011
View photo of 1970 Chevrolet El Camino Model - 1,179KB
1972 Chevrolet El Camino SS 1972 SS
Photo courtesy of Image*After
View photo of 1972 Chevrolet El Camino SS - 983KB
1972 Chevrolet El Camino SS 1972 SS
Photo courtesy of Image*After
View photo of 1972 Chevrolet El Camino SS - 1,048KB
1972 Chevrolet El Camino SS Modified 1972 SS
Photo ©2010 Bill Crittenden
Green Street Cruise Night:  June 7, 2010
View photo of 1972 Chevrolet El Camino SS - 4,919KB
1972 Chevrolet El Camino SS Modified 1972 SS
Photo ©2010 Bill Crittenden
Green Street Cruise Night:  June 7, 2010
View photo of 1972 Chevrolet El Camino SS - 4,424KB
1979 Chevrolet El Camino SS Modified 1979
Photo ©2015 Bill Crittenden
2015 Cruisin' Spring Car Show
View photo of 1979 Chevrolet El Camino SS - 4.7MB
1979 Chevrolet El Camino SS Modified 1979
Photo ©2015 Bill Crittenden
2015 Cruisin' Spring Car Show
View photo of 1979 Chevrolet El Camino SS - 4.1MB
1979 Chevrolet El Camino SS Modified 1979
Photo ©2015 Bill Crittenden
2015 Cruisin' Spring Car Show
View photo of 1979 Chevrolet El Camino SS - 3.8MB
Modified 1985 Chevrolet El Camino Modified 1985
Photo ©2008 Bill Crittenden
Johnsburg Car and Bike Show
View photo of Modified 1985 Chevrolet El Camino - 4,167KB
Modified 1985 Chevrolet El Camino Modified 1985
Photo ©2008 Bill Crittenden
Spring Grove Charity Car Show
View photo of Modified 1985 Chevrolet El Camino - 3,406KB
Modified 1985 Chevrolet El Camino Modified 1985
Photo ©2008 Bill Crittenden
Spring Grove Charity Car Show
View photo of Modified 1985 Chevrolet El Camino - 3,433KB
Modified 1985 Chevrolet El Camino Modified 1985
Photo ©2008 Bill Crittenden
Spring Grove Charity Car Show
View photo of Modified 1985 Chevrolet El Camino - 3,389KB
Modified 1985 Chevrolet El Camino Modified 1985
Photo ©2008 Bill Crittenden
Spring Grove Charity Car Show
View photo of Modified 1985 Chevrolet El Camino - 3,235KB
Modified 1985 Chevrolet El Camino Modified 1985
Photo ©2010 Bill Crittenden
Thunder Road Cruise Night:  May 19, 2010
View photo of Modified 1985 Chevrolet El Camino - 5,118KB
Modified 1985 Chevrolet El Camino Modified 1985
Photo ©2010 Bill Crittenden
Thunder Road Cruise Night:  May 19, 2010
View photo of Modified 1985 Chevrolet El Camino - 3,959KB
Modified 1985 Chevrolet El Camino Modified 1985
"It's all about the size of your rubber"
Photo ©2010 Bill Crittenden
Thunder Road Cruise Night:  May 19, 2010
View photo of Modified 1985 Chevrolet El Camino - 3,781KB
Modified 1985 Chevrolet El Camino Modified 1985
Photo ©2010 Bill Crittenden
Thunder Road Cruise Night:  May 19, 2010
View photo of Modified 1985 Chevrolet El Camino - 4,437KB
Modified 1985 Chevrolet El Camino Modified 1985
Photo ©2010 Bill Crittenden
Thunder Road Cruise Night:  May 19, 2010
View photo of Modified 1985 Chevrolet El Camino - 4,681KB
Modified 1985 Chevrolet El Camino Modified 1985
Photo ©2010 Bill Crittenden
Thunder Road Cruise Night:  May 19, 2010
View photo of Modified 1985 Chevrolet El Camino - 4,829KB
Modified 1985 Chevrolet El Camino Modified 1985
Photo ©2010 Bill Crittenden
Thunder Road Cruise Night:  May 19, 2010
View photo of Modified 1985 Chevrolet El Camino - 3,503KB
Modified 1985 Chevrolet El Camino Modified 1985
Photo ©2010 Bill Crittenden
Thunder Road Cruise Night:  May 19, 2010
View photo of Modified 1985 Chevrolet El Camino - 4,804KB
Modified 1986 Chevrolet El Camino Model Modified 1986 SS
AMT kit
396 engine from 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle
Photo ©2009 Bill Crittenden
2009 Summer NNL hosted by GTR Auto Modelers
View photo of Modified 1986 Chevrolet El Camino Model - 3,076KB
Modified 1986 Chevrolet El Camino Model Modified 1986 SS
AMT kit
396 engine from 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle
Photo ©2009 Bill Crittenden
2009 Summer NNL hosted by GTR Auto Modelers
View photo of Modified 1986 Chevrolet El Camino Model - 2,844KB
Chevrolet El Camino SS Model Car SS
Photo ©2013 Bill Crittenden
2013 Attack of the Plastic
View photo of Chevrolet El Camino SS Model Car - 3.2MB
Custom 1986 Chevrolet El Camino Custom 1986
Photo ©2012 Bill Crittenden
Reserve not met ($22,000 high bid) at the Mecum 2012 Fall Premier Auction
Mecum Auctions
View photo of Custom 1986 Chevrolet El Camino - 1.4MB


Documents

DateDocument Name & DetailsDocuments
19 December 1966NHTSA Recall 66V032001 1967 Chevrolet Chevelle, 1967 Chevrolet El Camino
STEERING:WHEEL AND HANDLE BAR
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Recall Page - 1 page
9 September 1968NHTSA Recall 68V085000 1968 Buick Skylark, 1968 Buick Special, 1968 Chevrolet, 1968 Chevrolet Camaro, 1968 Chevrolet Chevelle, 1968 Chevrolet Chevy II, 1968 Chevrolet El Camino, 1968 Oldsmobile F-85, 1968 Pontiac Firebird, 1968 Pontiac Tempest
Vehicle Speed Control
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Recall Page - 1 page
25 November 1970NHTSA Recall 70V143000
1971 Buick Skylark, 1971 Chevrolet Bel Air, 1971 Chevrolet Biscayne, 1971 Chevrolet Camaro, 1971 Chevrolet Chevelle, 1970 Chevrolet El Camino, 1971 Chevrolet Impala, 1971 Chevrolet Nova, 1971 Oldsmobile F-85, 1971 Pontiac Firebird, 1971 Pontiac Le Mans
Vehicle Speed Control
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Recall Page - 1 page
9 November 1972NHTSA Recall 72V275000
1973 Buick Century, 1973 Chevrolet Chevelle, 1973 GMC Sprint, 1973 Oldsmobile Cutlass, 1973 Pontiac Grand Am, 1973 Pontiac Grand Prix, 1973 Pontiac Le Mans
Steering:Linkages
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Recall Page - 1 page
6 December 1972NHTSA Recall 72V303000
1973 Chevrolet Chevelle, 1973 Chevrolet El Camino, 1973 GMC Sprint
Seat Belts:Front:Warning Light/Devices
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Recall Page - 1 page
12 July 1973NHTSA Recall 73V152000
1973 Buick Century, 1973 Chevrolet Chevelle, 1973 Chevrolet El Camino, 1973 Chevrolet Laguna, 1973 GMC Sprint, 1973 Pontiac Le Mans
Service Brakes, Hydraulic:Foundation Components:Master Cylinder
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Recall Page - 1 page
19 December 1973NHTSA Recall 73V250000
1974 Buick Century, 1974 Buick Electra, 1974 Buick Estate, 1974 Buick LeSabre, 1974 Buick Regal, 1974 Buick Riviera, 1974 Chevrolet Bel Air, 1974 Chevrolet Camaro, 1974 Chevrolet Caprice, 1974 Chevrolet Caprice Estate, 1974 Chevrolet Chevelle, 1974 Chevrolet El Camino, 1974 Chevrolet Impala, 1974 Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 1974 GMC Sprint, 1974 Oldsmobile 88, 1974 Oldsmobile 98, 1974 Oldsmobile Cutlass, 1974 Pontiac Bonneville, 1974 Pontiac Catalina, 1974 Pontiac Firebird, 1974 Pontiac Grand Prix, 1974 Pontiac Grand Safari, 1974 Pontiac Grand Ville, 1974 Pontiac Le Mans
Suspension:Front:Control Arm:Upper Arm
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Recall Page - 1 page
14 February 1975NHTSA Recall 75V032000
1975 Buick Century, 1975 Buick Regal, 1975 Chevrolet Chevelle, 1975 Chevrolet El Camino, 1975 Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 1975 GMC Sprint, 1975 Oldsmobile Cutlass, 1975 Pontiac Grand Am, 1975 Pontiac Le Mans
Power Train:Axle Assembly:Axle Shaft
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Recall Page - 1 page
2 September 1976NHTSA Recall 76V132000
1977 Buick Century, 1977 Buick LeSabre, 1977 Buick Regal, 1977 Buick Skylark, 1977 Chevrolet Bel Air, 1976 Chevrolet Camaro, 1977 Chevrolet Camaro, 1977 Chevrolet Caprice, 1977 Chevrolet Chevelle, 1977 Chevrolet El Camino, 1977 Chevrolet Impala, 1977 Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 1977 Chevrolet Nova, 1977 GMC Sprint, 1977 Oldsmobile 88, 1977 Oldsmobile 98, 1977 Oldsmobile Cutlass, 1977 Oldsmobile Omega, 1977 Pontiac Bonneville, 1977 Pontiac Catalina, 1976 Pontiac Firebird, 1977 Pontiac Grand Prix, 1977 Pontiac Le Mans, 1977 Pontiac Ventura
Steering:Wheel And Handle Bar
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Recall Page - 1 page
6 October 1976NHTSA Recall 76V160000 1966 Buick Electra, 1966 Buick Riviera, 1966 Buick Skylark, 1966 Buick Wildcat, 1966 Chevrolet Chevelle, 1965-1966 Chevrolet, 1966 Chevrolet El Camino
Fuel System, Gasoline:Carburetor System
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Recall Page - 1 page


Merchandise

Type & Item #NameDetails
Model Kit - AMT 6062'65 Chevelle El Camino1:25 scale, 4 in 1: Stock, Camper, Custom, Drag ("modern camper" included in kit)
Die Cast - Hot Wheels 57192-0710'69 El CaminoWild Wave, Small scale, Yellow Custom with rear engine
Die Cast x2 - Matchbox 37531First Production 1970 Chevy El CaminoPremiere First Edition, Small scale, One red, one unpainted, Production: 25,000
Model Kit - MPC 1-0760Night Moves El Camino1:25 scale, Golden Wheels Bonus


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