9 Lesser Known Facts About the Chevrolet El Camino
The invention of the automobile was one of the most influential contributions to society. The first car was little more than a three-wheeled cart, but it was quickly changed to a 4-wheel platform. There’s always experimentation with form, and the consequences can be really big, creating entirely new categories of vehicles like SUVs or Muscle Cars, or disastrous ones like the Pontiac Aztek and the Edsel.
The best example of an automobile platypus, the El Camino, was along this line. This does not mean that it did not succeed, on the contrary. This is to say that he defied the classification. Like the Suburu Baja which would come much later, this truck / car would defy many classification conventions.
As is customary with such a strange duck from an automobile, there are many aspects of its creation, hidden gems and unknown facts about them.
9 They made motorhomes for them
When a new truck comes on the market, it’s quite normal, the first thing the aftermarket looks to do is fill the bed with accessories. Toolboxes, bed covers and camper van shells become ubiquitous almost instantly, customers want to put their new trucks to work. In addition, they are looking to play just as hard.
Hence the reason why the RV and RV industry is as important as it is. Pickup trucks have long been ready platforms for a sliding motorhome. Truck beds accommodate a custom yet ubiquitous monolithic unit, with a bed above the cabin, a dinette that converts into a secondary bed to accommodate at least 1 more adult, a small kitchen, and sometimes a bathroom (probably not with this platform). The El Camino was not to be outdone. There were several models advertised to fit the lines of the truck. Few of them survive, most of those that do come from Idlewild’s nameplate. One recently sold for $ 600.
8 There was a GMC version called the Sprint
It is well known that trucks from the General Motors family have a funny tendency to experience a split in their personality. The general must nurture many small brands under his aegis. It was a very smart move to help saturate a market with concession area limits. With the same truck manufactured but sporting different band names, a Chevrolet dealership could be placed within 2 miles of a GMC truck dealership, sell to different enthusiasts each with their own expectations, double sales for the same platform. shape and keep the dealer supply lines denser to keep costs down.
The Chevrolet El Camino also received this Face / Off treatment, becoming the GMC Sprint. The GMC Sprint was for the most part identical to the El Camino but had its own trim packs. The GMC version of the SS package was called the SP, with similar power increases. When emissions and fuel supply became an issue, they renamed it again, calling it the Caballero, with a Diablo package, similar to the Black / Royal Knight package offered in El Camino. It was generally more sporty, but more luxury oriented to cope with changes in the market.
7 There is a secret area called the smuggler’s box
As a side effect of its innovative design, marrying the front styling of a car with the utility of a pickup truck, there were many quirks in its design. For starters, the front sheet would see periodic updates with the Chevelle wagon facelift and eventually incorporate its return to the Malibu family platform.
As a side effect, this meant that behind the cabin there was a small opening, intended to serve as a floor for the station wagon version of the platform. In the El Camino and Sprint family, the factory placed a panel above to ensure a level floor for cargo handling, which left a cavernous area below, large enough for several small duffel bags or other larger and more flexible items. It has become common for buyers to modify this area to allow the panel to open on hinges, or via a solenoid, to use it as a de facto toolbox or to take advantage of more storage options in the box. the truck.
6 Some versions had better weight distribution than their Chevelle counterparts
When it comes to performance and handling, having a low center of gravity in a truck is always a new experience for any driver. Anyone who has ever owned a mini truck would agree that it feels different and sportier. Like in a Mazda B series, classic Toyota trucks or Nissan offerings, something magical happens with a low-to-the-ground, long, and light truck.
With the El Camino there is also a key advantage. With several models in the SS trim pack, the rear end being longer and further back meant the center of gravity was in a much better place for some performance maneuvering. In particular, for the 1968-1972 model years, the Chevelle SS had 56.5% of the coupe’s total weight resting on the front wheels. With the El Camino model of the same year, only 56.1% of the vehicle mass was on the steered axle.
5 They look like the Olds G Body platform
It was also common for the general to develop a single platform and build many different models on top of it. They tried it out with the Tri-5 Chevrolets, Corvair badges, and later with the GMT400 truck platform. This led to very low development costs, a very quick upgrade of all tooling, the ability to limit retooling between models and most importantly a uniform base from which the manufacturer could build.
Despite the uniqueness of the El Camino, it has always shared its foundations with the Oldsmobile G bodywork. It has played host to many legendary models like the Buick Grand National. A fun quirk of the 1982 thru 1988 models built on this basis was that the platform could be configured to be either front-wheel drive with a transversely mounted motor, or, as in the El Camino, rear-wheel drive with a mounted V8. longitudinally. .
4 There is a myth that they are unibody on frame
Several sources claim that this was one of the reasons why these trucks were unibody chassis, at least the previously listed G body models from 1982 to 1987. This is based on how the body panels look more like the appearance of other monohull offers of the time. The fuel crisis and the general trend towards more boxy automotive styling. There’s an ongoing joke that everything a designer needed to style a character in the 1980s was a rule. Boxes within boxes were the main queues for many models.
This may lead to the mistaken belief that an El Camino-style truck was not really body-on-frame, with the panel mounting of the 1980s models more closely adhering to the styling of its cousins who did not need, nor did they have a frame. All GM trucks always sported an underlying solid chassis regardless of what bodywork was placed on it.
3 The false legend of Choo-Choo El Camino
Also at this time, there was a growing appetite on the part of the car buying public for outside companies to upgrade and modify vehicles to add luxury and performance equipment. It was the era of the conversion van, the Centurion hybrid van truck and the Zimmer.
Choo-Choo Customs sought to enter this market with a fiberglass front hood, reshaping trucks for a more aggressive look. They would take delivery of a production El Camino, switch to rally wheels, sport mirrors and redesign the front end to make it more aggressive. The result was an original powertrain that lacked the upgrade given to its sister car the Monte Carlo SS, which sported a 180bhp V8. The El Caminos never had this upgrade and were limited to a 150 horsepower 350 Chevy V8. These models are always desirable for collectors and enjoy such a premium that there is a robust counterfeit market. Care should be taken to ensure that all buyers buy a genuine model.
2 There is a myth that the front ends of the Camaro IROC swap
As a side effect of this, there is a boring farmer’s tale. Since Choo-Choo redesigned the front end, it has strutted the road with a look more closely tied to its sister cars from the Chevrolet brand. The allure of having a more exclusive custom rig is always interesting, there were methods of coupling the front plate of a Studebaker to an El Camino, making it an even more confusing hodgepodge of a vehicle.
Choo-Choo took its design lineups by redesigning the El Camino from the Monte Carlo and the IROC Z28 Camaro. The look was very close to the two models. A myth started from there and it often returns in circles of enthusiasts. What could have contributed to this confusion? Choo-Choo called one of its IROC-S packages based on a rhythm car version, with era-specific badges and graphics. This could easily lead to confusion.
1 Bill Clinton had one, and Lady Gaga too
With so many trucks on the market, it’s quite understandable that many enthusiasts flock to own one. Of these, celebrities would definitely be among those who want one. Prior to his political career, the 42nd President of the United States William Jefferson Clinton drove a 1970 model with astroturf as the bed liner.
Lady Gaga also places one of these trucks in her garage. its 1970 model was customized with a set of shaved door handles, badges removed, but it still runs on its stock 350bhp V8. Its sleek black panels are only highlighted by the aluminum wheels, it looks great when cruising with it behind the wheel.
Next: These Are The Most Expensive Muscle Cars Ever Auctioned
5 coolest ’70s muscle cars you can buy at low cost (5 that belong to the junkyard)
About the Author