Q: Hi Greg, I apprehend a lot about the beef cars of the 1960s and am apprehensive about the history of the Chevy El Camino as it relates to drive trains and agent horsepower. Can you accord some history? Thanks and any added advice on the El Camino band is appreciated.
– Ernie W., Danville, Pennsylvania
A: Ernie, I’m blessed to help. And I’m activity to accommodate a little bit of Ford Ranchero advice as a allegory because the Ranchero was El Camino’s capital competitor.
The El Camino began with its aboriginal bearing that alone spanned two years of 1959 and 1960. Then, afterwards a three archetypal year layoff, Chevy came aback with the average admeasurement El Camino from 1964 to 1987, including ancestors two through six. Both the El Camino and Ranchero are archetypal “car/pickup” cartage and both became added accepted with collectors as the years clicked by.
When alien in 1959, Chevy’s new “half-car/half-truck” had a acceptable aboriginal year of sales. Built on the 119-inch wheelbase two-door Chevy Brookwood base wagon anatomy with BelAir accouter alfresco and a Biscayne interior, Chevy afraid Ford’s ’59 Ranchero with bigger all-embracing sales of 22,246 to 14,169, respectively. Considering Ford’s aboriginal Ranchero came out in 1957 and awash able-bodied at 21,706 vehicles, it afraid anybody who followed this atypical car/truck market.
As for the agent and drivetrain combos on that aboriginal anytime ’59 El Camino, there were abounding to accept from. Included were three engines including the accepted 135-horse, 235-inch Stovebolt inline-6, while alternative were two V8s ala the 283 small-block V8 or the able 348 big-block V8. Numerous V8 versions were available, with the tri-power three two butt 348 its accomplished ability ambassador at 335 horses.
However, best notable for ’59 was the altered 283’s a customer could order. The baby block 283 was offered in a 185-horse two-barrel version, followed by a distinct four butt at 230 horses. Next was a attenuate dual-quad two four-barrel 283 putting out 270 horsepower. If that wasn’t enough, how about a 290-horse ammunition injected 283? Yes, four altered versions of the accepted small-block. These agent options fabricated the ’59 El Camino actual appropriate as the ammunition injected adaptation is actual rare, as is the dual-quad 283. Both accompany actual acceptable money at the civic car auctions.
The 1960 El Camino, however, absolutely abashed the auto apple as its sales plummeted and concluded up in a changeabout of the above-mentioned year. Ford angry the tables as they went from abounding admeasurement to the new, actual baby Falcon-based Ford Ranchero at a abundant lower price. The El Camino awash aloof 14,163 units against the Falcon Ranchero’s 21,027 number. The engines were agnate in ’60 although the ammunition bang versions were gone. An abridgement six at 110 horses abutting the ability list.
Unlike Ford, which affiliated assembly on abounding platforms through 1979 and seven generations, Chevy did not accomplish an El Camino in 1961 to 1963 absolutely acquainted of Ford’s downsizing success with its new Falcon Ranchero. Best acquainted Chevy’s accommodation to cull the full-size El Camino from assembly was due to the poor 1960 sales, while others say that Chevy was artlessly retooling to accompany El Camino aback as a Chevelle intermediate. Turns out the retooling assembly were correct.
Chevrolet re-entered the car/truck bazaar with its new 1964 El Camino based on the average Chevelle band and aggressive now with Ford’s new average Fairlane based Ranchero.
As for the beef car engines and transmissions, the 327 V8 took over as its top ability maker back the El Camino alternate in 1964. The 300-horse 327 was available, and added engines included the 283 up to 220 horses and the inline-6 in 194-inch, 120 horse and 230 inch, 155 horse. In 1965, the engines were agnate and transmissions included chiral three and four speeds and powerglide automatics.
Things absolutely confused advanced apropos the El Camino alpha in 1966 appropriate on through 1970. The ’66 and ’67 396 El Caminos were affinity to its Chevelle auto SS396, including all of the able big blocks but after official SS badges. In ’68, Chevy clearly appear an SS396 El Camino and these El Camino models are accepted attractions at the car shows and breadth annoyance strips. My admired is the 1970 El Camino SS454 with 450 horses affiliated to either a Turbo-400 automated or Muncie 4-speed.
Overall, Chevy’s El Camino outlasted the Ford Ranchero by absolutely a few years, with the Ranchero catastrophe in 1979 while the El Camino and its sixth bearing lasted until 1987. For the record, my admired Ranchero is the 1968 Torino-based 428 Cobra Jet.
So there you accept it Ernie, the Chevy El Camino history in beneath than 1,000 words. Thanks for your letter.
Greg Zyla writes account for Added Content Now and Gannett Co. Inc. Contact him at [email protected] or at 303 Roosevelt St., Sayre, PA 18840.