Chevrolet El Camino

Chevrolet designers have envisioned a brand new coupe pickup in the early 1950s, which became a reality when strong competition was required to beat Ford newest model of the time Ranchero.

As a result El Camino was introduced for the 1959, two years after the Ford Ranchero. It was a year of change for Chevrolet in general, as public wanted longer, lower and wider vehicles. Over 22,000 El Caminos were sold during the first year, compared to Ford's 14,169 Ranchero models.

El Camino was built on Chevy's 1959 passenger-car chassis that featured a "Safety-Girder" X-frame design and full-coil suspension, both of which had debuts in late 1950s.

The 119-inch wheel-base was 1.5 inches while overall length of the vehicle was up to 210.9 inches and gross vehicle weight ranged from 4400 to 4900 pounds, depending on powertrain and suspension options specified.

The 1959 El Camino was advertised as the first Chevrolet model built with a steel bed secured with 26 bolts instead of the usual wooden floor. The 283-cid Turbo-jet V8 with two- or four-barrel carburetion and several Turbo-Thrust 348-cid V8s with four-barrel or triple two-barrel carbs were among the entries. Three types of Ramjet Fuel Injection engines were also available for the potential buyers.

Hot Rod magazine conducted a test of an El Camino equipped with the hottest powertrain combination available in early 1959—a 315 bhp (235 kW; 319 PS), triple-carb, solid-lifter 348 V8 mated to a four-speed. HR testers clocked 0-60 mph times of around seven seconds, estimated top speed at 130 mph (210 km/h), and predicted 14-second/100-mph quarter-mile performance with a rear-axle ratio suitable for serious drag racing installed.

1960 El Camino model started at $2366 with most common option cost of $107 for a V8 with the two-barrel 283 engine. The model had bright-metal jet appliqué and narrow trailing molding used to accent the rear quarters.

The seats were covered in striped-pattern cloth with vinyl facings. Available interior trim shades were once again gray, blue, and green. Floor coverings were in medium-tone vinyl. Mid-1959 powertrain availability was carried over with minimal changes for 1960, however the fuel-injected engines were officially removed from the offer.

Incoming orders didn't match the Chevrolet expectations, since sales dropped around 30% forcing the company to stop manufacturing the model. The first sedan pickups simply haven't reached their target audience, possibly because of mistake in assesing their needs. In the 1960s most of the car-buying Americans where baby-boomer families and the models in question simply didn't carry enough passengers for their needs.

In addition, the majority of marketing efforts focused on commercial customers instead of general public. The El Camino which means the Road in Spanish was designed simply too flamboyant for the time, but is considered today as one of the American classics.

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