Chevrolet launches sales of the El Camino on Oct. 16, 1958. The car-truck hybrid was inspired by the Ford Ranchero, which had been on the market for two years.
The 1959 El Camino was built on the same body as the Impala and featured identical “cat’s-eye” taillights and long tail fins.
It was pitched as “the most beautiful thing that ever shouldered a load!” Ford’s Ranchero was the first car-truck sold in the U.S., but it was not a new idea.
Australian farmers had been driving “utes” -- short for “coupe utility” -- around the Outback since the 1930s. In the U.S., however, ute-type vehicles were slow to catch on.
While the Ranchero was a solid seller, the first El Camino was not, and Chevy dropped it after just two years. In 1964, Chevrolet introduced a new version derived from the muscular Chevelle platform.
But with a more powerful SS engine in 1968, the El Camino became a favorite of the late 1960s and 1970s. The 1970 El Camino SS, packed with a 396- or 454-cid, big-block, Chevy engine, is considered the ultimate El Camino of the muscle car era.
For the 1978 model year, the El Camino shifted to a new and smaller Malibu platform. El Camino production ended with the 1987 model, but the car remains a cult classic.
Pontiac signaled plans at the 2008 New York Auto Show to introduce an El Camino-like sport truck and even considered naming it the El Camino before settling on the shorter G8 ST.
The rear-wheel-drive concept was based on the Holden Ute. In 2009, however, General Motors’ financial woes -- along with later plans to eliminate the Pontiac brand by 2010 -- forced the company to cancel or postpone new models.