First Generation El Camino (1959-60)
The first generation El Camino appeared in 1959 as a 2-door utility coupe – not quite a pickup truck, not quite a family car – and lasted only through 1960. It was a longer, lower, wider full size vehicle that experienced greater sales than the Ford Ranchero, the vehicle for which it was designed and built to compete.
The beauty of the El Camino was its ability to use any Chevy drivetrain. It had a wheelbase of 119 inches, a payload rating of 650 to 1150 pounds, a GVW of 4400 to 4900 pounds (depending upon powertrain and suspension) with a Bel Air exterior and a Biscayne interior. A variety of engines were available for the El Camino: A 283 CID Turbo Jet V8 with either a 2- or 4-barrel carburetor; And several 348 CID Turbo Thrust V8s. Further, the first generation El Camino was the first truck/utility vehicle to offer a steel floor bed rather than wood.
Sales dove in 1960 although the exterior and interior were basically the same as the previous year model. However, the base package engine was revised to offer better fuel economy and the fuel injected engine was no longer available. Since the cargo capacity was much less than a pickup truck and it could not seat more than 3 individuals across the seat (comfortably), its “luster” dimmed. The El Camino would not see production again until 1964.