[American Classics] Is it a car or a truck? Part 1 of 3

This is the first of a serie of three articles on a kind of vehicle that is somewhat hard to identify. Somekind called the "coupe utility vehicle", it is mainly a regular sedan, with only 2 doors, and a rear part similar to a pick-up. Many of those cars has been produced over the years, but only (as i know?) by American brands. Ford introduced the concept in 1934, on the Ford Model A. Of course, it was more a pick-up than the real concept. We had to wait until 1957 to see the real coupe-utility vehicle appears, in the Ford Ranchero (which will be covered in the part 2).

In this first part, the most popular of those strange cars will be covered : the Chevrolet El Camino (also known as GMC Sprint and GMC Caballero).

First experiences

First 59 El Camino

The El Camino has been introduced in 1959, as an answer to the growing popularity of the Ford Ranchero unveiled two years before. It was based on the Chevrolet Bel Air/Impala of the year, featuring the "bat" rear-end. Every trim end of the normal car was available, and the customer was even able to put a 315 bhp V8 engine in it... it was only available for one year though. The 1960 El Camino only offered a 170 hp basic engine and the sales completely dropped, and Chevrolet discontinued the model, while the Ranchero was quite popular. El Camino reappeared as a 1964 model, now based on the Chevrolet Chevelle. It featured a more appealing body style, and a complete selection of engines. SS options were available, able to reach a 375 bhp V8 engine! It really started El Camino's career. Unfortunately, i don't have any replicas of those years in diecasts. Johnny Lightning reproduced the 1959 and the 1965... i need them :)

Popular years

68 El Camino.

The third generation, introduced in 1968, featured a wider and longer El Camino, still based on the Chevelle of those years. It was the Muscle Cars Mania, and the El Camino wasn't doing exception. A powerful SS-396 version was added, featuring the 396 Turbo-Jet engine, already in use in the Chevelle. Even more, in 1970, a 450 hp engine was introduced, and was able to reach 169km/h on the 1/4 miles! It followed the Chevelle styling changes on every year until 1972 (end of third generation). The GMC Sprint was introduced in 1971, as a re-badged El Camino. It was clearly one of the most popular Chevrolet of these times, and was reproduced a lot of times in diecast.

We first need to talk about the '68 one. Hot Wheels first introduced the 69 one as a hot rod (with a blown out  engine in the rear cab) in the 2000 casting line, but abandoned in in 2008. The engine was retired of the cab and it was renamed as the 68 El Camino, re-introduced in 2009. And thanks, because the first 69 edition was quite horrible! As you can see, the 68 (here is the first 2011 version) is quite classic, but really well done. I especially like the color, makes it look like a lowrider. Rare thing for a Hot Wheels : the wheels are good! The gold trim make them pop. Tampos are clearly missing though... and the bed is slightly "plastic". An honest casting overall, but one of the recent Hot Wheels you'd want!

Evaluation : Hot Wheels '68 Chevrolet El Camino
  • Accuracy (looking like the real car?) : 8/10
  • Details (mirrors, wheels, other stuff)  : 6/10
  • Color : 9/10
  • Quality of the fabrication :  8/10
  • Personal factor (is it a must for my collection?): 7/10
  • Total : 38/50

70 El Camino.

On the other Mattel side, Matchbox also has its El Camino version, the 1970 one this time. It was first seen in 2000 with some fancy decals, but the casting really started to be seen in 2004, mainly with the Superfast version. The one you can see here is the 2008 10-pack version, in a bright yellow color. It hasn't been used since 2009 though. Overall proportions of the real car have been really well reproduced. The color is a pretty good choice, and the wheels are a nice fit. But... where are the tampos? I mean, the front lights look empty. As usual with recent Matchbox, it is a solid casting, but would have been better with more details.

Evaluation : Matchbox '70 Chevrolet El Camino
  • Accuracy (looking like the real car?) : 9/10
  • Details (mirrors, wheels, other stuff)  : 5/10
  • Color : 9/10
  • Quality of the fabrication :  8/10
  • Personal factor (is it a must for my collection?): 8/10
  • Total : 39/50

Recent ones

82 El Camino.

The fourth generation, introduced in 1973, was the largest El Camino produced. Following the American petrol crisis, the horsepower of the engines was downgraded, reaching a low point of 175 hp in 1976. The lines were more squarer, still following its Chevelle sister. No casting of this El Camino era is known (to my humble knowledge). Fifth generation was unveiled in 1978, and was now based on the Chevrolet Malibu, since the Chevelle disappeared. The base model was featuring a really humble 95 hp V6. Era of the "bigger is better" was fading, and the El Camino wasn't able to follow the flow. When the Malibu disappeared in 1983, the El Camino was offered as a simple conversion, with the front of the Monte Carlo of those years. Last El Camino was produced in 1987... but is consistently in rumors for a comeback. It would have been introduced in the form of the Pontiac G8 ST in 2011, but the brand disappeared in 2009, due to the economic crisis.

The last generation has been reproduced a few times. First, Motor Max made a nice replica of the 82 El Camino, along with a trailer and a Pontiac GTO The Judge 1970 (described here). This diecast is quite rare, and was mostly available in Canada (one of the rarest cars available here!). The car is really well reproduced, and the orange color is just a perfect match. The front is a bit plastic though... would have benefited from tampos. Nice details are added on the sides though, and what about these lovely wheels? One thing though : that tow hook is HUGE compared to the car's scale. It features an opening hood though. Certainly a must have for any collector, try to find it :)

Evaluation : Motor Max '82 Chevrolet El Camino
  • Accuracy (looking like the real car?) : 9/10
  • Details (mirrors, wheels, other stuff)  : 8/10
  • Color : 9/10
  • Quality of the fabrication :  7/10
  • Personal factor (is it a must for my collection?): 9/10
  • Total : 42/50

Last El Camino produced, in 1987

To conclude this serie of diecasts, we must talk of the Majorette's replica of the 1986 El Camino SS. I own two of those castings : an original green one, and a blue one that i completely restored (but was originally blue). The blue won't be evaluated here, since i added details for my pleasure, so let's talk about the green one. As every Majorette casting, it looks pretty solid, and ready to be mistreated by some kids (luckily, i will never do that!). The real forms of the car are somewhat oddly reproduced... there's too much curves, according to pictures of the real one. It does of course need tampos, and those generic wheels aren't the best fit. The opening doors are a nice add though. If you compare to my own custom, you can see what a few details would have added to the car... still a nice effort.

Evaluation : Majorette '86 El Camino SS
  • Accuracy (looking like the real car?) : 7/10
  • Details (mirrors, wheels, other stuff)  : 7/10
  • Color : 7/10
  • Quality of the fabrication :  10/10
  • Personal factor (is it a must for my collection?): 7/10
  • Total : 38/50

Enjoy the pictures :)


  1. hey there is it possible I can get a few or more of those motormax Elcaminos I love those cars I need some in my collection bad I will post my email and how much they cost with sh if you find any

  2. Unfortunately they're all gone last time i looked. Pretty sure you can find some on ebay though :)

  3. MRDONNELL1971@GMAIL.COM ok let me know I got to have her from Canada and I love too come up too Quebec and love Canada

  4. ok thanks no dice on ebay but if you lucky anough too find one holla i been the boards howling and no howls back alot of collector piss they draws when seen this one and scracthing there heads i will be hunting hard this one Thanks your bless Canadian who ever you are thanks for sharing


  6. well i try too up load the blue Elky i got 7 of them plan to paint them in different colors and engine swaps thanks for the heads up