The Pontiac GTO is a lot of things. It’s arguably the first muscle car. It engendered a wave of copycats hoping to cash in on the market it helped create, and it was definitely a cheater when pitted head to head with its Ferrari namesake. We’ll let them slide on that last one.
What it isn’t, however, is a pickup. Although it shared the A-body chassis with GM intermediates from Chevrolet, Buick, and Oldsmobile, no other brand got the pickup version of the A-body besides, appropriately, GMC.
Ron Lindemann wasn’t satisfied with GM’s decision to keep a bed off the back of a GTO, so he built his own over the course of 10 years. He calls it the GTO Chief Camino, combining the names of the El Camino and the frequently used Chief moniker used by Pontiac in the ’50s and ’60s. (We were thinking it should borrow more Italian for the name, as it’s already the Gran Turismo Omologato, and become La Strada. Kinda catchy, isn’t it?)
This isn’t just an El Camino with a GTO interior and GTO sheetmetal bolted on up front, take a look at the quarter panels. The character line that kicks up just behind the door is all Pontiac, and so are the taillights and tailgate. A 1964 or ’65 Tempest wagon donor had to be used for those parts, but they’re so perfectly integrated into the El Camino roof and bed trim that you’d be hard-pressed to prove this wasn’t a concept that rolled out of Pontiac design.
We’ve seen front end swaps on later generation El Caminos—Pontiac even had an actual prototype of its own on the updated A-body platform—and G-body front end swaps are even more common, with Grand National utes popping up every now and then at shows. This conversion tops them all.
It was offered at RM Sotheby’s Auburn Fall 2018 auction and was a no-sale at $25,000. The car couldn’t be built for that much, especially considering Lindeman used a real 1965 GTO chassis, sheetmetal, and 389-cubic-inch V-8 with four-speed transmission to complete the one-off ute. We hope it’s offered again, and we hope it finds a buyer. Whoever that ends up being will have the honor and privilege of demanding all friends and family address him or her as Chief Camino.