History of the 1973-1977 Chevrolet El Camino
General Motors introduced all new “Colonnade” body styles for its a-body mid-sized products for 1973, and the car-based Chevrolet El Camino pickup was no exception. The new styling, featured hardtop-style doors and upper glass, and a wide variety of engines ranging from a 250-cid six-cylinder all the way up to a 454-cid big-block V-8. The new El Camino was well received, and more than 51,000 were sold in 1973.
Front disc brakes were standard, along with all coil suspension and flow-through power ventilation. New options included luxuries such as swivel bucket seats and a center console, as well as Turbine I wheels. Payload was a respectable 1/2 ton.
During this time, Chevrolet used the El Camino (which was subjected to different rules and regulations since it was classified as a truck) to fill in for diminishing power in muscle cars. An SS El Camino could be equipped with either a 350-cid V-8 or a 454-cid big block, and plenty of enthusiasts so equipped their El Camino.
The 1974 El Camino received a new work-oriented small-block option with a 400-cid V-8. The 1975 El Caminos followed GM’s decree that all new cars would utilize catalytic convertors and high energy ignition, and with those legally mandated changes, emissions and power went down and gas mileage stayed about the same. The 1976 model year saw the introduction of GM’s new rectangular dual stacked headlights on the El Camino, and the new option of a 305-cid V-8. The 454 engine was discontinued across the brand, symbolically ending the performance era. The 1977 model year saw the line continue without the 400 V-8. GM would down-size the El Camino in 1978 with a complete redesign.
Today the Chevrolet El Camino of this era has a loyal following. The trucks are instantly recognizable, and especially the earliest years of this generation offer a semblance of performance. They weren’t necessarily used as work horses when new, so attrition isn’t a serious problem with these trucks. More of an issue is the fact that the El Camino was bought by enthusiasts who often customized their cars, making stock examples somewhat difficult to uncover.