5 secrets of the Chevrolet El Camino
Published October 25, 2013
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:
- Bill Clinton Owned One: The 42nd President of the United States drove a 1970 El Camino with a bed lined in Astroturf. Enough said.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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