As the 1950s were coming to a close, the market witnessed some truly transitional cars including the Chevy El Camino. Created for a brief two-year window starting in 1959, it disappeared until 1964. The El Camino was based on the growing popularity of the full-size Chevrolet model line, with similar body cues and styling. The early examples were GM's answer to Ford's Ranchero, the other prime contender in this unique market. The history of the car-truck concept is said to have originated around the early 1930s when the wife of a rancher wrote to Ford of Australia expressing her interest in an all-in-one vehicle that could be used around the farm, taken to market and used to attend church services on Sunday. Designer Lew Bandt was tasked with sketching out the design. Known as the Ute in Australia, it would inspire several other manufacturers to follow suit with versions of their own.
The 1959 Chevrolet El Camino was based largely on the full-size Chevrolet Brookwood two-door station wagon. Its B-platform, 'Safety-Girder' X-frame chassis featured additional reinforcements such as bracing in the roof and rear cab panel. The cargo box sides and tailgate were double-walled and the bed floor was made of 18-gauge corrugated steel. The El Camino was promoted by Chevrolet as its first pickup built with a steel bed floor instead of wood. While the Ranchero used existing passenger-car components, the original El Camino necessitated the creation of many specially tooled pieces, including the upper door frames, load bed, rear quarter panels, and inner paneling. The exterior trim was from the Bel Air and the interior trim was from the Biscayne. It could be fitted with essentially any option on the list, including any drivetrain available from Chevrolet, which ranged from inline 6-cylinders to 348 CID V8s.
The styling of the 1959 El Camino included a pair of jet-engine-inspired air intakes mounted into the leading edge of the hood, a pair of quad headlights separated by a wide grille of horizontal slats with polished bullets, and the so-called 'batwing' tailfins. The enormous rear deck sloped to a low 'V' in the center and beneath each winged fin were the so-called 'cat's eye' taillights.
The El Camino proved to be more popular than the Ford Ranchero, selling over 22,000 examples in 1959.
by Daniel Vaughan | Oct 2022
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1959 Chevrolet El Camino
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|1964||Chevrolet (2,318,619)||Ford (1,594,053)||Toyota (1,068,321)||2,318,619|
|1963||Chevrolet (2,237,201)||Ford (1,525,404)||Fiat (957,941)||2,237,201|
|1962||Chevrolet (2,061,677)||Ford (1,476,031)||Fiat (957,941)||2,061,677|
|1961||Ford (1,338,790)||Chevrolet (1,318,014)||Volkswagen (807,488)||1,318,014|
|1960||Chevrolet (1,653,168)||Ford (1,439,370)||Toyota (1,068,321)||1,653,168|
|1959||Chevrolet (1,462,140)||Ford (1,450,953)||Volkswagen (575,407)||1,462,140|
|1958||Chevrolet (1,142,460)||Ford (987,945)||Volkswagen (451,526)||1,142,460|
|1957||Ford (1,676,449)||Chevrolet (1,505,910)||Plymouth (726,009)||1,505,910|
|1956||Chevrolet (1,567,117)||Ford (1,408,478)||Buick (572,024)||1,567,117|
|1955||Chevrolet (1,704,667)||Ford (1,451,157)||Buick (738,814)||1,704,667|
|1954||Ford (1,165,942)||Chevrolet (1,143,561)||Plymouth (463,148)||1,143,561|