CC Capsule: 1965 Chevrolet El Camino – Designed To Be Effective At Certain Tasks

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(first posted 7/23/2013)    Unlike Ford, which had an uninterrupted stream of Rancheros starting with the very first in 1957 (CC here), Chevrolet took a break during 1961-1963. Perhaps they considered the El Corvair Rampside a Ranchero substitute? But in 1964, the El Camino came back with a vengeance, on the new A-Body platform. And in the end, the El Camino would go on to well outlive the Ranchero, all the way through 1987. For some reason, the ’64s are harder to come by, unless perhaps at car shows. But since I prefer the curb to shows, here’s a pretty original survivor from 1965, which is the same as the ’64 except for the grille and a few minor trim bits.

Chevelle 1964 300 two-door wagon

What’s interesting about Chevy’s decision to get back into the “ute” battle is that in order to better amortize the costs of tooling up the new El Camino, they also created a two-door Chevelle 300 wagon using much of its sheet metal. A bit odd, inasmuch as the two-door wagon’s run was essentially over by then (Two-door wagon History here). A two-door sedan-delivery wagon was also listed in 1966-1967, but images are elusive. Were they ever built?

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But the El Camino took root, despite a somewhat poky start in 1964. Especially by about 1968 or so, when it was available in SS form, the Elky became a two-seater alternative to the muscle cars then so popular. This one sports the badging that proclaims it started life with a 283 under the hood.

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Given the aftermarket floor shifter, I rather suspect it has the ubiquitous 350/350 combo.

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American “utes” weren’t designed to carry 16 tons of ballast in the bed in order to give it enough traction to pull a road train of five semi-trailers full of sheep up the steep and rugged mountain foot paths of New Zealand. In fact, they really weren’t designed for serious work at all; that’s what Humber Super Snipes and Peterbilts are for. In fact, the El Camino sat on a totally ordinary Chevelle chassis except for air-adjustable shocks, and load capacity was rated at 1200 lbs for the six, and 1100 lbs for the V8.

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But the El Camino became an All-American icon, despite its lack of serious hauling creds. Anyway, a SS 396 El Camino will haul, in a different sense, as long as the lightly-loaded tires can be made to connect to the pavement adequately. Or maybe that’s not the point; perhaps the Elky was designed specifically for burning rubber.

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