Curbside Capsule: 1974 Chevrolet El Camino – Sending Mixed Messages

Son Number Two and I drove into town this past weekend to look at a 2002 Ford Ranger XLT he was considering, only to be beaten to the purchase by literally minutes. Peeking out from behind the lot shack was the nose of this El Camino, which I’ll peg as a ’74 model based on the grille.

The fourth-generation El Camino was based on the Chevelle’s A-body platform, and was available with engines ranging from a 250 cu in (4.1-liter) six to a 454 cu in (7.4-liter) V8 mated to a three-speed automatic. Unfortunately, whenever one tries to be “all things to all people,” they usually end up falling short. Even so, over 50,000 El Caminos were sold in 1974.

Our subject car appears to have one of the V8s (from the last pre-catalytic converter year) and clearly has seen better days—the paint appears to be all that’s holding the rust molecules together at this point. The Z-28 wheels certainly give it a jaunty, sporting look, though. It’s not quite sure what it wants to be: Comfy car? Pickup truck? Sporty car? Hmmm.

Believe it or not, there was also a GMC version of this car/truck, called the Sprint. A whopping 4,873 were sold in 1974. Now that would be a rare find today!

Given the preponderance of lower rear-end rust, trailer-light plug and marine-grade tie-downs in the bed, I suspect this car may have spent a bit too much time near the water…but at least someone’s making the effort to keep it on the road a while longer.