Leave it to the History Channel to remind us that the El Camino officially celebrated 55 years of existence yesterday! On October 16, 1958, the car-truck hybrid vehicle based on the Impala body was first sold to consumers. "The most beautiful thing that ever shouldered a load!" yelled Chevrolet advertisements, "It rides and handles like a convertible, yet hauls and hustles like the workingest thing on wheels."
The El Camino was not the first of its kind - since the 1930s, farmers in Australia drove automobiles referred to as "coupe utility" vehicles, or "utes." Forgive us for our use of the "F" word, but as legend has it, Ford Australia was first to produce a comparable car-truck, the Ranchero, when a farmer's wife from Down Under wrote and asked them to build a car that could take her to church on Sunday and then take her husband's pigs to the market the following day. The Ranchero was a huge success in Australia, but the body style took much longer to catch on in the States.
The El Camino had a rough go of it in the beginning and Chevy discontinued it after just two years of production. In 1964, they decided to try again with a new version built on the Chevelle platform, and in 1968, the addition of the strong SS powerplant was a huge tool in boosting the El Camino into the image of a muscle car.
The El Camino met its demise in 1987 when Chevrolet pulled the plug, but it continues to be revered as a cult classic. In 2008, Pontiac had announced new plans to develop a "sport truck" inspired by the El Camino, even retaining the name, but financial difficulties halted the plans and soon after ended Pontiac altogether.
Though no one can really predict if we will ever see El Caminos back on dealership lots, it sure would be cool to see a modern twist on the classic muscle car/truck of the '60s.