Curbside Classic: 1987 Chevrolet El Camino Conquista – Fin Del Camino

1987 Chevrolet El Camino Conquista. Evanston, Illinois. Saturday, February 26, 2022.

I came across this El Camino at the end of this past February while in Evanston, the city just north of Chicago.  It was still pretty cold outside that Saturday, but I was determined to leave the house after spending most of my day being responsible and getting my personal work and chores out of the way.  I had to do a little internet research to find out where I wanted to go and what I felt like doing, but my basic goal was to find something small and relatively inexpensive with which to treat myself at the end of a week of tasks well executed.  Things don’t have to cost a lot of money to bring me joy.  It’s often true that the less something of good quality costs relative to how great, delicious, or unique it is, the more satisfied I am, especially if I get to keep more of my hard-earned money.

Evanston, Illinois. Saturday, February 26, 2022.

I had set out for a used clothing store I found online that I had never been to before, but ended up going to the small, locally-owned, gourmet chocolatier that had taken its place in the same storefront.  Noir d’Ébène (French for “black of ebony”) ended up having exactly what I didn’t know I needed (not wanted, but needed) that afternoon, which was a super-delicious, handcrafted, dark chocolate candy bar of single-origin, Peruvian cacao beans, embedded with various fruits and nuts.  I felt pretty good about not bringing home one more physical object that would take up space in my home, but rather a special treat I could enjoy as part of the memory of that day’s explorations and meeting new people.

1987 Chevrolet El Camino Conquista. Evanston, Illinois. Saturday, February 26, 2022.

Before I made it to the candy boutique, though, I stumbled across a parking garage in which this El Camino was parked.  It had caught my eye from the sidewalk, and unlike the ’73 Ford LTD Brougham I had spotted and photographed in a different parking garage in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood, there were no cars parked immediately adjacent to it, which enabled me to get a few decent shots of it.  The first thing that struck me was how much the squared-up, quad-headlamp look introduced for ’82, which lasted through the end, effectively modernized its front end.  I do like the dual-light models and have written about several of them, but the later models with four lamps just look smarter to me, somehow.

1980 Chevrolet El Camino. Edgewater, Chicago, Illinois. Sunday, May 3, 2020.

1980 Chevrolet El Camino. Edgewater, Chicago, Illinois. Sunday, May 3, 2020.

I grew up in a family where everyone else wore glasses.  I did not.  The relatives I looked up to as a young kid all wore them, which made me think that one day, I, too, would “graduate” to wearing glasses once I was of a certain age.  It would be a rite of passage.  But, alas, my eyesight remained excellent and I never got those glasses I had once pined for.  Vehicles with four headlights have always had a more premium look to me, as those lights are very much like the eyes of a car’s or truck’s “face”.  It would be only a bit later in my childhood when I would realize that “four eyes” was an insult that was the bane of some of my peers who needed corrective lenses to actually see.  While the ’80 model pictured above might have a bit of a “sad” expression, the restyled countenance of our featured truck seems to possess a strong, steely gaze.

1987 Chevrolet El Camino brochure cover, as sourced from

I had to do a license plate search in order to discover that this El Camino was a final-year ’87.  Though the standard engine that year was a 4.3L V6 with 145 hp and 225 lb.-ft. of torque, this one has (or had) the optional, 150-horse, 305 cubic inch V8 with 240 lb.-ft. of torque.  It was originally manufactured in Ramoz Arizpe, Mexico.  It also has the Conquista option (RPO D91), which was an exterior trim package that consisted of two-tone paint, special chrome moldings that separated the upper and lower exterior colors, and exterior identification.

1987 Chevrolet El Camino brochure pages, sourced from

All Conquistas I’ve seen pictures of have a roof and lower-body section in one color, with the central part of the main body in a contrasting color.  On this example, only the roof is a different color, with the rest of it being all silver.  Given the aftermarket wheels, my educated guess is that this ’87 had gotten a silver respray at some point, with the some of the Conquista-specific chrome trim purposely removed .  I also find it fascinating that the El Camino had lasted all the way through the ’87 model year, especially given the popularity of the S-10, Chevy’s other small truck.  Also, contrasting the El Camino’s basic styling sourced from the late-’70s Malibu against that of the slick, redesigned, full-sized C/K pickup that arrived for ’88, I’m hard-pressed to find any common design language between the two trucks.

1987 Chevrolet El Camino Conquista. Evanston, Illinois. Saturday, February 26, 2022.

According to one source, there were only about 13,700 ’87 El Caminos that found buyers (along with just under 1,900 GMC Caballeros) before the final curtain came down.  Time moves only forward, though.  The El Camino had its day and still has its fans (including me), though this model is probably not ever coming back to new car showrooms.  I suppose it might have been serendipity that the vintage clothing store I had been looking for on the day I spotted this truck had been replaced by a new and amazing chocolate shop.  It’s always a helpful process to try to be ready to embrace change and let go of the familiar, just as smaller trucks like the S-10 came to fulfill a role that the El Camino had occupied before.  Still, this example is special for being from el final del camino, or the end of the road.  Adios, amigo.  Glad to know you.

Evanston, Illinois.
Saturday, February 26, 2022.