As is the case with many artists, cars sometimes grow in status and appreciation long after they’re gone. This is certainly the case with the Chevrolet El Camino, a hybrid car-truck that’s celebrates five and a half decades of pleasing enthusiasts with its unique makeup and function.
According to History.com, the Chevrolet El Camino was built in response to the Ford Ranchero, a car Ford Australia built to satisfy a unique market. In the 1930s, a farmer’s wife in the Outback asked Ford to build a car that she could carry her to Church on Sunday, and her husband’s pigs on Monday. As legend goes, Ford responded, and engineer Lewis Brandt designed a low-slung car that was ritzy in front, and pickup in the back. The ute was a huge hit, and other automakers responded with similar offerings in Australia. But the idea never quite equated to sales success here in the U.S. After a launching a string of models with mixed results, Chevrolet discontinued the model in 1987.
Back in 2008, General Motors had considered revisiting the idea of a ute in the U.S., bringing one here as the Pontiac G8 ST, based on the Australian Holden Commodore Ute. Unfortunately with the company’s 2009 bankruptcy, those plans were shelved. Still, the idea lives on, and there’s a chance it could come back, based on the 2014 Chevrolet SS sedan.
But the coupe utility took on a new life in urban markets, and was adopted as a unique piece of Americana that appealed to the exact opposite market it was intended for. While it’s been a while since we’ve seen a new El Camino model, the car’s presence lives on, as strong as ever.