In 1959 Chevrolet began production on the El Camino, the company’s very first “sedan pickup.” The sedan pickups mentioned in this article are pioneering examples of what would become the modern day “crossovers.” These vehicles aim to appeal to both car and truck customers with an assortment of comfort and utility features.
Although GM prided itself in being first with new vehicle concepts in the 1950s, they were clearly behind the 8-ball when they introduced the El Camino, named after the Spanish phrase for “the road.” While legend has it that Harley Earl (GM’s main man in charge at the time) had discussed a new “sedan style pickup” with his design team way back in 1952, Ford made it to the market first and 2 years ahead of GM with their highly successful version of the very first sedan pickup, the Ranchero, in 1957. The Chevrolet El Camino was created to directly compete with the Ford Ranchero and in 1959 they would have the chance to battle head on for the hearts and dollars of Americans.
The original El Camino came out with a bang! Across the nation, and especially so on the West Coast, hot rodders and customizers found the new El Camino to be particularly appealing for modification. Sadly, there just weren’t enough modifiers to prop up the sales of the 3-seater amongst the sea of baby boomers with families. Consequently, production of the first generation was cut short after its second year in 1960. Production would resume in 1967 and would continue on for 4 more generations, until 1987.
Today, the first generation of the El Camino is seen as rare and collectible because it was the only generation built on the full-sized Impala chassis. The 1964–1977 model years were based on the Chevelle platform, and continued for the 1978–1987 model years based on the Malibu.
Before American Resto Mods even opened its doors, Ralph (American Resto Mods owner) found our jewel of a first generation, 1960 Chevrolet El Camino near his home in Cumming, GA. Although in decent condition, this car was painted an awful shade of blue that appeared to have been painted on with a brush, and the original 6-cyl engine had been replaced with a tired 283 V-8.
Eventually, American Resto Mods came to life, and for a while the guys of the shop drove it around as a “work truck.” There was even a few times when Ralph attempted to sell the diamond in the rough, although no one ever saw the potential, so at the shop it remained.
One slow work day, Mike (American Resto Mods shop manager) decided it would be a good time to assign one of the resto-techs the duty of de-trimming the half car/half truck and commence on the bodywork. Starting of superficially, we installed lower patch panels on the quarters and fixed some fairly small rust issues elsewhere on the body. Using a graft from an additional frame that came with the purchase of the El Camino, we repaired a section where rust had attacked the rear rails. Arriving at the point of no return, what started of slowly turned into a snowball rolling down hill and ended up a pretty darn cool “work truck” for our shop. It took us a little over 3 years to complete, but now that it is done we are mighty proud of our non-show, mostly original trim creation—and happy that we have something so cool and unusual to represent our shop’s work.
Daytona Weave carpet
Vintage Air system
AM/FM/CD player in the glove box (keeping the stock esthetics of a classic dash panel)
Body paint is 2007 Corvette Atomic Orange
Roof paint is 2010 Cadillac Pearl White
Airbrushed in-house logo on the doors
Original and re-chromed bumpers
Mostly original/refurbished trim and molding
5.7L 350CID in salvage engine
700R4 automatic transmission