When is a Car Half a Truck?

You can think of the Chevrolet El Camino as the automotive equivalent of a backwards mullet, with business in the back and the party up front. Launched in response to the 1957 Ford Ranchero, the El Camino ended up outlasting its competitor by more than half a decade, and you can find multiple models in new and used condition through the listings on eBay.

Understanding the El Camino

Looking like a cross between a car and a pickup, this Chevy was actually based on a station wagon chassis. The idea was simple enough: buyers wanted something that was comfortable enough to drive like a car, without giving up all the cargo capacity of a truck. As it was, some were limited by the use of a car frame, suspension, and tires, but they still provided useful balance for those who could do with the limited passenger room as well as cargo capacity.

What Platforms Did the El Camino Use?

Not only were these cars based on station wagons, but they were also originally based on that very rare bird, the two-door station wagon. Chevy used the same frame and power train, and they followed up by even taking advantage of a lot of the same sheet metal.

  • Original: Based on the Brookwood, which was the two-door wagon version of the Impala line, this design only lasted two model years before being discontinued for poor sales after 1960.
  • Revival: The revived version launched in 1964 took advantage of the GM A-body platform used for the Chevelle. It featured both six-cylinder and eight-cylinder options with many buyers taking advantage of the small-block V-8. Chevrolet continued using the A-body for the El Camino until 1981.
  • Final: The final version took the G-body design used in the Buick Regal and introduced the first Diesel to the line, with very little success. This platform ran from 1982 through the final production year of 1987.
Performance and the SS

The combination of a possible big block engine on a light body meant muscle car performance was easily within reach. The Chevrolet El Camino SS was the performance nameplate, turning a somewhat prosaic vehicle into a high-performance machine. Later developments turned the SS from a Super Sport to a custom trim level. There were two basic variations of the SS in different eras.

  • Super Sport: 1968 introduced the Super Sport tag to the Chevy El Camino and brought the big block along with it. With engine sizes ranging from 396 to 454 cubic inches, these were performance monsters that could easily break the back wheels loose due to the forward heavy weight distribution.
  • Choo Choo: From 1983 to 1987, the Super Sport badge was reborn in name only with the Choo Choo Custom El Camino SS. These vehicles featured custom body work but lacked the performance focus that gave the original Super Sport its reputation.

Content provided for informational purposes only. eBay is not affiliated with or endorsed by brands listed above.