Here’s a stylish two-minute promotional spot from 1959 pitching Chevrolet’s new gentlemen’s pickup, the El Camino. America’s decades-long love affair with the sporty car/truck mashup starts here—watch.
In 1959, GM’s Chevrolet division introduced its sleek car-based pickup, the El Camino. Clearly, the retail consumer market for light trucks was beginning to take off, and the automaker was eager to exploit it. A few years earlier, the company had introduced a dolled-up, truck-based gentleman’s pickup, the 1955 Cameo. (There was also a GMC version, the Suburban Carrier). And now, with the 1959 El Camino, Chevy was exploring the car-based end of the civilian pickup market. No doubt Chevrolet was at least partly motivated by rival Ford’s launch of the Ranchero car/pickup hybrid in 1957.
Built on the standard Chevrolet passenger-car platform and its 119-inch wheelbase, the El Camino used mid-level Chevy trim and appointments, including Bel-Air exterior chrome and sturdy woven-nylon interior fabrics. And as proudly noted in this promotional spot, the full complement of Chevy powertrain options were available, including the hairy 348 CID V8 with three two-barrel carburetors. Thanks in part to its popularity with the high-performance set, sales for the sporty car/truck mashup were fairly brisk the first year at around 22,000 units. America’s decades-long love affair with the El Camino starts here. Enjoy the video.