1959 Chevrolet El Camino
8-cyl. 283cid/290hp FI
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With an experienced team and a lot of data.
Today’s crossover craze can arguably trace its roots back to 1957 when Ford rolled out its first Ranchero, followed closely two years later by Chevrolet’s El Camino. Both were basically two-door station wagons with their rear-roof sections removed to open up a pickup-style bed that could haul about a half-ton of cargo. Like Ford’s “car-truck,” Chevy’s ’59 El Camino was available with either six-cylinder or V-8 power, with the latter group including both the yeoman 283-cid small-block and the muscular 348.
Most passenger-car features, including snazzy two-tone paint, were available options for the 1959 El Camino, which prices starting at about $2,500. Compare that to the $1,950 bottom line for a typical Chevy Stepside pickup and you begin to see why Chevy people found its original car-truck a bit of a tough sale. Although 1959 numbers (22,246) topped that year’s Ranchero tally by about 50 percent, Chevrolet shelved the idea following a downturn in 1960 to 14,163.