I saw the El Camino casting in Morrison’s first, and decided I liked it. Then I saw an El Camino on Archer while my boyfriend and I were Netflix and chilling, and wanted it a bit more. Then I kept seeing it in Morrison’s, nobody wanted it – and each time I intended to buy it, it was superseded by something I wanted just a little bit more – maybe an Aston Martin or a Lotus. Then I started playing Interstate ’76 again, and in the Nitro Riders expansion pack, I found the “Hacienda” to be one of my favourite vehicles – and that sealed it. Months on, the Hot Wheels El Camino casting is still there in store, as though it was destined to be mine all along. So I finally bought it. It’s the 1971 variant, which is okay, but I’m more a fan of the 1970 headlamp cluster.
The car – Chevy El Camino
“El Camino” is Spanish for “the way” – “the way” being led originally by Ford’s Ranchero back in the late 1950s – in America, at least. (Australians actually led the way back in the 1930s, since Bruce’s wife needed a vehicle she could take to church once he’d taken the pigs to market – the Ute was born) Back then, when it was introduced in 1958/9, the El Camino looked decidedly different and wholly more absurd – with the crazy exterior styling also seen on the contemporary Bel-Air, with its outrageous fins and cat eye brake lights.
This cross between car and truck (it was always officially classed as a truck, I believe) was popular at first, outselling the Ranchero in its first year, but after a couple of years the smiles on the GM bosses’ faces were gone, and the El Camino disappeared citing plummeting sales. The design had slowly become more conservative, but in its last year the first generation El Camino returned to Bel-Air styling, with attractive lines accentuating its butt.
But the El Camino was destined for a return in 1964, where it would become even more confused about its identity. Based on the Chevelle, the car now had handsome styling up front, and carried both “Chevelle” and “El Camino” badges (Although the utility image of the truck now prevented it from having the most powerful range-topping drivetrains). Improvements to the interior kept being made. Sales remained steady at over 30,000 a year.
Then, in 1968, the third generation was introduced.
The El Camino was longer, had updated interior from the Chevelle Malibu, and offered optional extras like bucket seats and power front disc brakes.
The SS “Super Sport” option was brought in for the third generation and offered with 325 or 350bhp. Eventually the 350 V8 would be introduced for the first time on an El Camino.
In 1969, power windows and locks became an option, in line with the switching of the reversing lights to the tail Gate (so they couldn’t be seen if it was dropped). Yeah, don’t ask me.
The model I have is the 1971, whose revisions followed on from 1970. The body is squared off, and the quad headlamps have been replaced by a single high powered units as well as a reworked face. The previous year seeing a 450bhp engine on select models, now the El Camino saw its displacements reduced in line with the infamous regulations introduced by the US government in the early 1970s.
The fourth generation appeared in 1973 and was the biggest El Camino yet. Luxury was the order of the day, with improvements made to styling and interior, as well as comfort, ride quality and reliability. The El Camino remained a massive seller, but the success was not to last.
The fifth generation lasted 1978 through 1987, and thanks to new emissions regulations, it was marketed as a leaner, economical vehicle. Styling changes were minimal in this time, but it did have a unique chassis.
Sales were plummeting though, and in 1987, under hardly any publication, the last El Camino rolled forlornly off the production line.
Will the El Camino return? The Internet would have us believe so. But don’t hold your breath of you live in the US.
The model – Hot Wheels 1971 Chevy El Camino
I’ve already mentioned how this model kept eluding me. Every time I went into the store, there would be something I wanted ever so slightly more – an Aston Martin, a Toyota Land Cruiser, Lotus Esprit, Ford Torino… it’s hard to let those go when you see them. But the El Camino remained, waiting faithfully for when I would finally pick it up.
When it came to me making the executive decision to buy one, I had a look around at what my options were. The first place I look to is Majorette, and they seem to have done a 1983/84 model, as Majorette only produce contemporary cars. I’m not particularly interested in the 1980s model, as by that time the El Camino was a shadow of its former self.
That left Matchbox and Hot Wheels. Corgi have an El Camino, but that too is in the wrong time period for me, having the Chevrolet Bel-Air styling.
Matchbox did a good looking El Camino, but when I sought one out on Amazon, I felt £45 was a little steep (as are nearly all model cars on Amazon – NOT RECOMMENDED!) so that left me with Hot Wheels. 1971 was a year out from the model I specifically wanted – close enough.
First of all, the colour, you will notice, is very striking. Metal flake purple shouldn’t work but it does. The white highlights, the stripes on the body and the wheel rims in particular, go really well with the colour. The El Camino sits on black five spokes with a kind of whitewall to prevent them from being dull.
On the doors comes “Ed Pink’s garage – Newbury Park, California” livery which would explain the colour. Double pink stripes run along the bottom edge of each side and over the bonnet scoop. The bonnet pins have been painted along with the door handles and locks which is nice detail.
the body is metal, the interior and base are grey and chrome plastic respectively. The interior has surprisingly good detailing, with a fully detailed bench seat, door cards, gear lever and even the dashboard has more attention than was probably necessary. I also like the quarter lights in the doors.
I love this car, and can only scoff at all the people who should have nabbed it while I stalled!
Featured image: Candy Apples & Blue Gardenias – Ottawa 05 08. By Mikey G Ottowa/Street Photographer’s photostream. Flickr. Original