Which Car is Business in the Front and Party in the Back?
It’s the El Camino of course – the car that combined a coupe with a truck - both business and brawn. Tonight on Wrecks to Riches at 8p E/P Barry White gets his hands on a 1970 El Camino and is under the gun to get it ready for auction.
The El Camino is one of those interesting cars that defies conventionality. With the front end of a sedan, but a back that functions like a truck it could have been a failure – after all, what is the market for that kind of car? It ran on the fringes of practicality for either a traditional car or a workhorse vehicle.
In fact it did have a bit of a rough start when it first came on the market in 1959. It was a beast with wide tail fins, cat eye tailamps and being modeled on the Impala design it was bigger than its rival the Ford Ranchero. People probably thought, “What the heck is this thing?” And while it sold a reasonable amount in ’59, sales dropped in half in 1960 and it was pulled from the Chevy roster.
Fortunately, somebody at Chevy still had some fondness for the idea of a combined coupe/truck and the El Camino came back in 1964. This time it was based on the sporty Chevelle, but it didn’t have much power. It had a basic 194-cubic-inch or 230 straight six-cylinder or the 283 V-8.
As the Sixties progressed, the El Camino evolved in both styling and engine power. As the era of the muscle car was dawning it was clear that the peculiar car could be a viable player in that market space.
It changed to the famous V-shape or “wedge” nose styling, and by ’66 is had a 396-ci V-8 under the hood. Now things started to get sporty. By 1968 it fully embraced muscle car mania and came out with a Super Sport SS396 model; by 1970 Chevy added a 402 V-8 and was capable of doing a quarter mile in 13 seconds at 105.
1968 and 1978-1987 were the only years that the El Camino SS was considered a separate and specific model. From 1969 through 1977 the SS was a custom model, with an SS option package.
This uber-muscle machine can be very hard to authenticate as there are no records on the exact production totals during that time. Many models didn’t even have the SS emblem on them.
Long after production ceased in 1987, there is still a thriving market for these cars and restored classics do well at auction. Here’s hoping that Barry and his new crew can turn the wreck he found into something that will do justice to the quirky, lovable, memorable, mullet of a muscle car!
Stay tuned, as there are more Wrecks to Riches at 9p and 10p E/P! Thursdays are looking pretty wreck-tacular!!!