Total Production: 2,224 1955 - 1958
In mid-1955, Chevrolet introduced its Cameo Carrier pickup truck, which would later help pave the way for the El Camino. The Cameo was a variation of the company's light-duty pickup and offered several car-like features that included passenger-car styling. In the back were fiberglass fenders, two-tone paint, and a relatively luxurious interior. A V8 engine was available, as was the automatic transmission and park assists. Design features included forward-slanting windshield pillars on the 'Panoramic' wraparound windshield and hooded headlamps. Chuck Jordan, former head of GM Design, is credited with giving the truck rear fenders having the same width as the front end, producing a flow-through appearance. In the front was an eggcrate grille and wraparound bumper. Inside the truck was a fan-shaped speedometer, needle gauges, and two-tone upholstery.
During the Cameo Carrier's introductory year, sales were not great, partly due to its relatively high price.
Mechanically, the Cameo had several improvements over other light-duty trucks including a new frame, wide track, and longer leaf springs. The wheelbase was shorter by two-inches, measuring 114 inches. Under the bonnet was a 265 cubic-inch V8 rated at 145 horsepower. Gearboxes included a three-speed, heavy-duty three-speed, three-speed with overdrive, four-speed, or Hydra-matic.
Several options were available including power steering and brakes, a 'Custom Cab' package, chromed grille, headlight bezels, bumpers and guards, hubcaps and hood ornament.
The Cameo Carrier Pickup continued through 1958, signaling the end to this costly pickup truck / passenger car experiment. 1958 would also begin a new numbering system for Chevrolet trucks: 30 for light-duty vehicles, 40-50-60 for medium-duty, and 70-80-90-100 for heavy-duty. The 30 series was also known as the 'Apache' line.
The Cameo Carrier was an important vehicle for Chevrolet and the motor-vehicle industry. It would provide the foundation of what would alter become known as the SUV. For Chevrolet, it was the forerunner of the El Camino. The Cameo Carrier had car-like lines, and a smooth and elegant design.
In February of 1958, the Cameo Carrier was replaced by the all-new Fleetside bodies. They had full-width rear bodywork, chrome grilles, bumpers and trim. In total, just 1,405 examples of the 1958 Cameo Carrier were produced.By Daniel Vaughan | Jan 2013