1969 SS 396
Hey, let an old-school Chevy-Lover school all of you young boys. Chevy first came out with the El Camino back in 1959 as an answer to Ford’s Ranchero, which came out in 1957. This was 5 years before Bunkie Knudsen whipped the cover off of the very first Chevelle in 1964 – the same year that Ford made the first Mustang out the door – and only 8 years before the debut of the Camaro in 1967, which was intended to counter Ford’s upstart “ponycar”. (As a bit of trivia, the ’67 Camaro was the only year to have side vent windows.)
As far as the car/truck issue goes, Ford jumped all around with their Ranchero idea, making Fairlane, Falcon, Torino and LTD models of this pickup car phenomenon while Chevy, once they switched from the Impala type to the Chevelle type in 1964, stayed with that same Chevelle platform throughout the model run which ended in 1987, 8 years after the last Ranchero rolled off the assembly lines. So to say that the true El Camino was actually a Chevelle is not exactly accurate.
Look! Out on the road! Is it a truck? Is it a car? No! It’s an El Camino!
Many words have been written on the truck vs. car debate. The bottom line is that whatever you choose to call it it is a marvelous blend of form and function. The attractive, sporty look which has been El Camino’s forte for all these years makes it as desirable today as it was when it was introduced on the Chevelle chassis back in 1964. Perhaps the most amazing part of the story is that this car/truck could also lay legitimate claim to the heritage of the supercars. With a 396 or 454 engine this little number could tear up the highway with the best of them. There must have been numerous highway patrol officers pinching themselves to make sure that they weren’t just dreaming that they had been outrun by a truck!
On this Blog you will find the story of the El Camino and its GMC equivalent, the Sprint/Caballero, (with particular emphasis on the El Camino SS and Sprint SP models). With the major body change in 1978, resulting in the model which lasted until 1987, the format changes slightly and a general overview of models and changes is presented.
Chevrolet chose 1959 not only to introduce the most radically styled, mass-marketed, passenger cars ever seen in American, but it also to introduced its answer to the Ford Ranchero, introduced in 1957. The introduction of the El Camino was, however, a reminder that there is truly nothing new under the sun. The idea of combining the function of a sedan delivery with that of a passenger car went back at least two decades. To meet the marketing challenge of the Ranchero, Chevrolet, in fact, went back to an old idea.
Still, the idea of combining the functionality of a truck with the social ambience of a suburban vehicle was brilliant. The El Camino was able to successfully meet the needs of suburban dads who had to pickup a weekend load of fertilizer as well as those of suburban moms who had to do the weekly grocery shopping and wouldn’t be caught dead doing it in a truck! Who would have guessed, however, that this vehicle would also develop potent supercar characteristics? They certainly weren’t evident in 1959.
The El Camino was a blend of the Brookwood Station Wagon and Sedan Delivery bodies. It used the Chevrolet “X” frame and passenger-type coil springs. Tires were 8.00×14″.
Standard engines were the 135-hp Hi-Thrift 235.5 cu. in. 6 (model 1180) and the 185-hp Turbo-Fire 283 V-8 (model 1280). Optional 348 cu. in. V-8 engines were available in 230-hp, 250-hp, 280-hp, 300-hp, 315-hp, 320-hp and 335-hp. This latter engine was available with three 2-bbl carburetors, high-lift camshafts and mechanical valve lifters. It and the 320-hp 348 V-8 are not mentioned in the factory issued literature.
The El Camino was introduced on the 119″ wheel-base of the big Chevy. It weighed 3605 lbs. and cost $2,352 (for the standard six). Production was 22,246 units.
The El Camino was brought back for what was to be a temporary swan song. With the elimination of the chassis on which it was built, Chevrolet put the El Camino idea on the shelf for three years until it introduced the intermediate-sized Chevelle in 1964.
In general, the styling of the Chevrolet line was considerably muted for 1960 compared to the excesses of 1959. The grille was pleasantly redesigned and the fins were close to being finished. The El Camino continued to share the station wagon and sedan delivery bodies.
Wheelbase was 119″. Standard tires were 8.00×14, 4-ply. The standard engine (model 1180) was the 135 hp 235.5-cid Hi-Thrift 6. The standard V-8 was the 170-hp 283-cid Turbo-Fire. A 230-hp 283 V-8 was optionally available. Also available were the dual-exhausted 348-cid options turning 250-hp, 280-hp, 305-hp, 320-hp and 335-hp. Price ($2,366) and weight (3545 lbs.) were both up on the El Camino (model 1180).
Literature this year consisted of the full-line El Camino and Sedan Delivery brochure which prominently featured the El Camino’s passenger/recreational uses. El Camino was also listed in the full-line truck brochure
The reintroduction of the El Camino in 1964 came with the introduction of the Chevelle. Built on a 115″ wheelbase the Chevelle was mid-size between the compact Chevy II and the standard-size Bel Airs and Impalas. The El Camino was offered in two models: the standard El Camino and the El Camino Custom. Right from the start, Chevrolet was at pains not to hide the down-sized El Camino’s light under a bararel. This reincarnation of an honored Chevy name was billed as a “Personal Pickup” and there was no doubt that they meant it. The El Camino Custom came with almost all of the available Chevelle SS interior options including bucket seats, special steering wheel, bright moldings and optional performance instrumentation. The El Camino Custom was a Chevelle SS in almost everything but name. The attractive trim and optional floor-mounted console (included with 4-speed or Powerglide, which was to become a popular SS option) plus the optional tach, Positrac-tion rear axle and sintered-metallic brake linings, created an appealing, sporty package which was just what Chevy was trying to achieve.
The 120-hp Hi-thrift 6 and 195-hp Turbo-Fire 283 V-8 were the standard engines. Optional engines were the six-cylinder 155-hp Turbo-Thrift 230 and the eight-cylinder 220-hp Turbo-Fire 283, with 4-bbl and dual exhausts. In mid-year, Chevy engineers were forced to follow on Pontiac’s coattails with a potent new engine option to counter Pontiac’s clever circumvention of the anti-performance edict laid down by GM brass. This famous edict stated that no standard engines of more than 350-cid were to be allowed on cars smaller than standard-size. Pontiac
brashly decided to flaunt this by making its stump-pulling 389-cid GTO an option on the popular Le Mans series. Since it was not a series, but only an option, it was perfectly legal, right? As soon as it was obvious that Pontiac had gotten away with it, the other GM divisions had no choice but to do the same. Chevy’s real answer the 396 would come the following year. This year their best effort was a 327 cid V-8 with either 250- or 300-hp and 4-bbl carburetor. With an El Camino standard or Custom weighing in at a scant 85 lbs. less than a Malibu SS Convertible (3055 lbs.), the 327 V-8 made it a credible street challenger, if not quite a brute of the GTO class. Price of an El Camino was $2,379, and the tab for an El Camino Custom was $2,460.
Despite the availability of virtually identical options between a Chevelle SS and an El Camino Custom, the SS emblem was not used on the El Camino. Public acceptance of the 1964 El Camino was instantaneous. A total of 32,548 were built, although the number ordered with the SS-style options is not separately available.
This was not a year of major change for the El Camino. There was a new grille featuring strong horizontal lines with the Chevrolet bow tie emblem on a bold, bright center horizontal bar. The word “Chevelle” was no longer displayed on the front fender, or anywhere else for that matter.
The El Camino was still available in the standard El Camino and in the El Camino Custom series. Outfitted as a Custom, the El Camino was a Chevelle SS in everything but name. The Custom interior came with bucket seats and center console as well as a generally higher level of interior trim.
Accessory features on the El Camino included power brakes, AM-FM radio, remote control rear view mirror, wire wheel covers, front seat belts, custom air conditioner, safety light (spot light), front bumper guards, windshield washer, deluxe front rubber floor mat and trailer hitch.
Standard engines were the 120-hp Hi-Thrift 194 six and the 195-hp Turbo-Fire 283 V-8. New optional engines were the 140-hp Turbo-Thrift 230 six (in the line-up replacing the 155-hp version) and the Turbo-Fire 327 V-8 with 250-, 300- or 350-hp. These latter engines began to turn the El Camino into a potent
small block machine. The 350-hp 327 was not listed in the sales literature until mid-year.
While the 350-hp 327 was good, an El Camino equipped with one was still not competitive with the big blocks. Pontiac’s GTO, Buick’s Gran Sport and Oldsmobile’s 4-4-2 were all sporting 389-cid or 400-cid engines in the 1965 model year. Against these brutes, the 350-hp 327 just wasn’t enough. Chevy’s answer came in early 1965 with the announcement of the SS 396 which was a 396-cid V-8 turning out 375-hp (option RPO Z16).
The wheelbase was 115″ and tires were 7.35×14″ 4-ply. Weight was up 5-lbs. to 3,060 lbs. and the base price was up to $2,461 for the Custom and $2,380 for the standard El Camino. El Camino production was up to 34,724, although, again, no figures are available for orders with the custom trim option.
The El Camino, along with most of the rest of the Chevy line, received a new look in 1966. The grille and the front bumper were revamped. The grille now wrapped around the front fender to blend with the hood overhang.
Interiors on the El Camino were all-vinyl and were available with the bucket seat and between-seat console options on the Custom model. Accessories included a luggage cargo carrier, trailer hitch, AM-FM radio, hazard flasher switch, deluxe front rubber floor mat, rear view side mirrors (manual and remote control), two electric clock options (one for console mounting), tri-volume horn, stainless steel, magnesium and wire wheel covers, power brakes front bumper guards and tachometer.
Engine availability started with the 120-hp Hi-thrift 194 six and the 195-hp Turbo-Fire 283 V-8. Optional engines included the 140-hp 230 Six, 220-hp
283 V-8. The only 327 engine was a 275-hp V-8. The big 396 V-8 was offered in two forms, 325-hp and 360-hp. Only this latter engine was available with a 4-speed close-ratio transmission. The Sixes were not available with a 4-speed of any kind but all of the V-8′s had 3-speed, 4-speed wide-range or Powerglide transmissions. Also contributing to its performance, the 396 was specially calibrated with high rate springs and double-acting shocks at each wheel.
Weight was up slightly to 3,075 lbs. Base price of the Custom was $2,504 and for the standard El Camino, $2,426. Production for El Camino was 35,119.
This was a year of relatively minor change in the El Camino. There was the seemingly endless annual grille change. The front bumper was new and side trim was moved up the side panels from the lower body molding. The tailgate was decorated with an attractive vinyl, wood-grained strip and new taillights. A vinyl roof option was available for the first time. Standard and Custom models were offered. Interiors were all-vinyl. The Custom had a higher degree of trim detail and textured vinyl seats. Chevelle Strato-bucket seats were offered with the center console.
Standard engines were the 140-hp 230 Six and the 195-hp 283 V-8. Five other options were available including a 195-hp 250 Six, 275-hp 327 V-8, and 325-hp 327 V-8. Big block engine availability was limited to the 396 in 325-hp or 350-hp Turbo-Jet form, down 10-hp from 1966. El Camino’s equipped with the 396 proudly wore that designation on the front fender emblems. Transmission availability was the same but a new Turbo Hydra-Matic automatic transmission was exclusive to 396 V-8 models. Mechanical innovations this year included the air-adjustable shock absorbers which could be inflated or deflated depending on the load to provide proper support.
The performance suspension was continued and was necessary with the 396 V-8. Weight continued to creep up and this year hit the 3,100 lbs. mark. Price was also up to $2,575 for the Custom and $2,497 for the standard model. Production was 34,830. Since the El Camino was still calling its SS a “Custom,” it is not surprising that it was not prom-inently featured Chevelle SS niceties like bucket seats were included. The El Camino was also mentioned in the Chevrolet “Campers and Pleasure Trucks” and full-line truck brochures.
This was a year of major change for the Chevelle and El Camino. First, the 115″ wheelbase which had carried the El Camino since 1964 was increased on the new body to 116″. The “SS396″ was added as a separate model to the standard and Custom models. Despite having had access to virtually all of the SS options on the Custom during the past four years, this was the first year that an El Camino could officially wear the “SS” label. The new hood was longer. The rear window was recessed now and the rear pillar flared off dramatically into a simulated fastback. The side windows sported a distinct “vee” design which emphasized the power motif of the body’s lines. Most dramatic was, of course, the rakish front end with its overhanging hood and the bold, swept-back lines on the front fenders. The SS tailgate had a narrow band of black which framed the SS 396 emblem. Grilles on the Standard and Custom models were not black-accented. The front fenders featured “396″ designation with the new side markers.
Standard in the SS 396 were the new Hide-A-Way windshield wipers. The simulated twin-domed hood scoops were included with louvered ports located at the rear edge of the hood. The grille on the SS 396 was black-accented and carried the 396 emblem. In addition to the new front fender side marker lights, the El Camino included rear side marker lights and wrap-around taillights.
Interiors could be customized to provide the owner with practically any level of comfort and trim quality desired. The Strato-bucket seats, console, sport steering wheel, along with the special performance instrumentation was commonly ordered with the SS 396 model. The optional bucket seat/console option now came with a stirrup-type shift handle when the automatic transmission was specified. The optional performance instrumentation package consisted of transistorized tach, ammeter, clock, temperature gauge and oil pressure gauge. The interior identified the SS El Camino with an “SS396″ emblem over the arm rests.
The standard engine for the SS 396 was the 325-hp Turbo-Jet 396 V-8. The 140-hp 230 Six and the 200-hp 307 V-8 were the other standard engines. Also available were a 155-hp 250 Six, 250-hp 327 V-8, 275-hp 327 V-8, 325-hp 327 V-8 and 350-hp 396 V-8. The latter two optional engines had high-lift camshafts and dual exhausts. Although not listed as an engine option in the 1968 sales literature, it has been reported that the 375-hp 396 was an available engine if you knew enough to ask for it. Front disc brakes were also an available option with special wheels included. The new body and size added considerably to weight and price. Weight was up to 3,210 lbs on the Custom, a gain of 110 lbs. over 1967. Price was up to $2,694 (plus $444 for the SS 396 model). The standard model was $2,613 and 3,193 lbs. SS El Camino sales totalled 5,190 although this was the last year separate production figures were available until 1974. Total El Camino production was 41,791. The El Camino sales literature this year consisted of a color folder which welcomed the addition of the SS emblem in style. As the cover below shows, the SS made the front cover and only SS models were illustrated in the color folder. The El Camino was featured in the full-line truck and the “Camper and Recreational Vehicle” brochures. The Camper and Recreational Vehicle brochure is the only sales literature issued this year to show anything other than an SS396 El Camino.
Little was changed on the El Camino this year. The SS 396 remained an option on the V-8′s but was no longer considered a separate model. Exterior changes were basically limited to the new grille and front bumper. Rear back-up lights were now located on the tailgate. The SS option package included twin-domed hood, black-accented grille, SS emblems front and rear, wheel well moldings and 14×7″ sport wheels. The “396″ identification disappeared from the front fender marker lights and a vertical “SS 396″ emblem was placed just ahead of the doors. To further differentiate the SS, two new colors were exclusive to the SS optional Monaco orange and Daytona yellow. Interior changes were relatively minor. The door lock button was relocated and a new steering wheel gear shift and ignition locking system was installed. This was also the year that the GM ruling junta set back passenger comfort for Chevelle coupe and convertible customers by eliminating side vent windows. They were retained, however, on the El Camino. Bucket seats and center console were still available and were popular SS options.
Other El Camino optional accessories included the Chevrolet air conditioner or “Four-Season” system, solid state AM or AM-FM radio and antenna, Cruise-Master speed control, tissue dispenser, power brakes, contour front and rear mats, trailer hitch and wiring harness, trailer hitch, wire wheel covers or Magnesium wheel covers, and tachometer. The standard engines were a 140-hp 230 Six and 200-hp 307 V-8. The SS 396 came, of course, standard with the 325-hp Turbo-Jet 396 but 350-hp version was still available. Also available were a 155-hp 250 Six, 255-hp 350 V-8 and 300-hp 350 V-8. Prices and weights had only moderate increases this year and, in fact, the SS 396 option actually decreased from $444 to $370. The Custom model’s base price was $2,723 and it weighed 3,248 lbs. The standard base price was $2,642 and it weighed 3,216. The El Camino continued to highlight its SS as shown on the color folder reproduced If you look closely at the steering wheel you will see another of those “faux pas” which bedevil those who create sales literature. The steering wheel and the inscription over the glove compartment clearly bear the word “Malibu.” Can there be any doubt about the SS El Camino’s parentage? The El Camino was also listed in the Chevelle Accessories catalogue.
Major appearance revisions to both the Chevelle and the El Camino were made this year. The front end was significantly revamped with the dramatic overhang replaced by a more blunted, vee’d front end. A new grille (black-accented on the SS option) and front bumper were the major changes. Other exterior changes included a slight squaring of the rear side windows and new wrap-around tail-lights in the rear bumper. The El Camino was still offered in standard and Custom models. The SS was an option package on the Custom. The Custom featured exterior and interior trim which differed from the standard in many ways. The Custom had bright trim which ran from the front to rear bumper about a quarter of the way up the side. Bright work was also carried on the wheelhouse molding. The standard only carried lower body trim. The area below the trim on the Custom was color accented. Side marker lights were now carried next to the bumper on the lower front quarter panel and the marker lights on the rear quarter panel were eliminated. Interior changes included a new instrument panel for both Custom and standard models. Available accessories included standard or “Four-Season” air conditioner, dial or push-button solid state AM-FM radio and antenna, trailer hitch, trailer hitch wiring harness, wire wheel covers, magnesium wheel covers, equalizing trailer hitch platform, cruise control, tissue dispenser with litter container, power brakes, front and rear contour mats. For the power and performance buffs, this year was the pinnacle of the supercars.
For the SS, the new bluntly vee’d front end, bold “SS” grill emblem, and cowl induction scoop gave this brute the power look its performance deserved. Depending on the engine selected, the SS emblem was “SS 396″ or “SS 454.” The SS package also included five-spoke sport wheels. The SS option had an interesting special instrument panel available with rounded gauges. The SS option also came with bucket seats and, with the center console added, a stirrup-type shift lever for automatics was available. While the engine was the big news this year, another significant mechanical change was “Cowl Induction.” When the accelerator was pressed a wide scoop opened to direct air from the high pressure area at the base of the windshield into the engine air intake. Cowl Induction was an option with the 396 or 454 SS package. The SS package included a special hood with a non-functional air scoop if cowl induction was not purchased. Standard engines this year were the 155-hp 250 Six and the 200-hp 307 V-8 with 3-speed, column-mounted transmission standard and Powerglide or Turbo Hydra-Matic optionally available. A 4-speed was available with the 307 V-8. Other optional V-8′s included the 250-hp 350 V-8, 300-hp 350 V-8 and the 330-hp 400 V-8. This latter engine was available for the first time this year on an El Camino.
Three engine options were restricted to the Custom and created the SS. The first was the 350-hp Turbojet 396 with high-lift camshaft, 4-bbl, 10.25:1 compression, hydraulic valve lifters and dual exhaust. Second was the 360-hp Turbo-jet 454 with high-lift camshaft, 4-bbl, 10.25:1 compression, hydraulic valve lifters and dual exhaust. Third, and most exciting, was the 450-hp Turbo-Jet 454 with special camshaft, 4-bbl, 11.25:1 compression, mechanical valve lifters and dual exhaust. Turbo Hy-dra-Matic was the automatic transmission option. The 350-hp 396 was available with 4-speed wide or close ratio. These were floor-mounted even if the console wasn’t ordered, as were standard transmissions on all models. The 454 engines were only available with the Turbo Hydra-matic and special 4-speed close-ratio transmissions. A look through the sales literature would have you asking what all the excitement was about. After all, the 350-hp 396 was still standard and the 454 was rated at only 360-hp. First, although it was called a 396, it was really a 402 cubic inch engine after January, 1970. This engine gave the Chevelle SS (and, given El Camino’s virtually indentical weight, this kind of performance should also apply) 15.27 second quarter-miles times. Thus, the 1970 El Camino SS could proudly claim an honored place in supercar heaven.
The base price of a V-8 Custom was $2,850 and for the V-8 standard was $2,769. Price of the SS El Camino with the SS 396 engine was $3,305. A fully equipped SS 454 could easily run just under $4,000. The weight of the Custom increased 73 lbs. to 3,321 lbs. and the standard to 3,300. Production totalled 47,707. The El Camino color folder this year was, in the author’s opinion, possibly the ugliest ever produced for the El Camino. However, esthetics aside, the SS received full and prominent treatment in the literature. There was a lot of material produced this year which illustrated the El Camino. A special brochure was produced on pickups and illustrated the El Camino and there was the traditional recreational vehicles brochure. The Accessories catalogue listed specific El Camino accessories. A mailer was issued in Canada on Chevy trucks and featured the SS 396 but it is not known if this mailer was issued in the US.
While the changes to the El Camino were minimal this year, this was a year of significant new development for Chevrolet as it introduced the Che-velle/El Camino body to the GMC Division to be marketed under the name “Sprint.” The El Camino was marketed in standard and Custom models. The major exterior changes to the El Camino were the new grille (black-accented on the SS) and the new single-unit headlights. The pair of stacked marker lights on the bottom of the front fender disappeared. The SS was available on the Custom as an optional package, and exterior identification came from the SS emblem in front of the door and from the absence of trim on the lower body. Locking hood pins were available this year for cowl induction models.
Interiors were virtually unchanged. One minor change was a new steering wheel which displayed the word “Chevrolet” in a narrow black band. The SS option featured a special instrumentation panel with black steering wheel/column and an SS hub emblem. Strato-bucket seats and console were optionally available. In response to various economic, regulatory and insurance forces, engine availability in 1971 was greatly affected. Compression ratios were cut from 10.25 to 8.5. The great 454 now produced “only” 365-and 425-hp. Gone was the 396 (or 402) and in its place was a 350 cubic-inch machine delivering 270-hp. The 400 cu. in. V-8 was available with 300-hp., the 350 V-8 with 245- or 270-hp. Standard engines were the 145-hp 250 Six and 200-hp 307 V-8. The Cowl Induction option was available with the SS 454 engine. Base price for a V-8 standard model was $2,988 and, for a Custom, $3,074. Weights for standard and Custom models were 3,340 and 3,356 lbs., respectively. The SS equipment added $365 to the price of a Custom. Total El Camino production was 41,606.
The Sprint was an El Camino and, except for the nameplate in front of the doors, virtually indistinguishable from the original. There was even an SS version marketed as the “Sprint SP.” Although it was the same as the El Camino, the Sprint’s weight was listed at 3,418 lbs. in standard form and 3,442 lbs. for the Custom. Base prices were $2,988 and $3,074 respectively. Engine availability was the same as for the El Camino. There were 3,963 produced.
The line-up was unchanged this year. The El Camino was offered in the usual standard and Custom models. Except for the new upholstery pattern, the all-vinyl interiors were the same as 1972. Nor was this a year of major external changes. The Chevrolet bow tie was gone from the grille and the wrap-around parking lights were no longer stacked and were now one piece decorated with six, thin horizontal lines. The SS continued as an option package on the Custom. Basically, trim and other SS options followed the same pattern as in previous years. The new grille was black, which accented the “SS” emblem since the horizontal chrome divider piece was deleted. Left-hand remote outside mirror was standard on the SS. Large F60x15 tires were standard on 15×7 Sport Wheels. Cowl Induction was also available with the 454 although the raised hood was an SS standard equipment item with or without it. Engine availability was down to six choices. There were the standard 110-net hp. 250 Six and the standard 130-net hp 307 V-8. Optional engines were the 165-net hp or 175-net hp Turbo-Fire 350 V-8, the 240-net hp. Turbo-Jet 400 V-8 and the 275-net hp Turbo-Jet 454. The 307 V-8, however, was not available on the El Camino SS, although the other four V-8 engines were.
The El Camino this year was slightly lighter and less expensive than in 1971. Weight was down 6 lbs. to 3,350 lbs. on the Custom and was 3,340 lbs. on the Standard. The base price of the Custom fell from $3,074 to $2,960 and base price of the standard fell to $2,881. The SS option fell from $365 to $350. Production jumped to 57,147.
The Sprint was again a slightly modified El Camino. Trim details did differ in several ways. The grille carried the “GMC” letters and the wrap-around parking/turn signal lights were amber with a mesh pattern. The SP package included all of the SS options. Engine options were the same for Sprint and SP, however, the engines were called the Invader for the V-8′s and In-Line for the Six. Production of the Sprint was 6,492.
This was the year of the first new body since 1968 for the Chevelle and El Camino lines. A new El Camino trim option, the Estate, was available on the Custom, as well. The El Camino remained on the 116″ wheelbase.
Length increased to 213″. The new grille and front end retained the single-unit headlamps. The wrap around and parking/turn signal lights were gone and they were now inset in the front and rear bumpers. Front and rear side marker lights were back in two vertical, parallel units. The boxy look of the rear tailgate was replaced by a more stylishly curved look. This lid, unfortunately, slightly reduce cargo space. The visual appeal of the package was enhanced by the more gradual sloping of the sheet metal from the rear roof line to the back.
Interior changes featured a new instrument panel. The SS package continued as a trim option on the Custom, and featured a black-accented grille with the SS emblem. The emblem was also displayed on the front fender sides and tailgate. It had side drip moldings and brightwork over the wheel house molding. Standard wheels for the SS were G70xl4 Bias belted on 14×7″ wheels. Remote right and left sport mirrors were also standard, as was your choice of black or white side striping. The special instrument cluster was continued. Mechanically about the only items of note were the special SS front and rear stabilizer bars. The interior package featured optional new bucket seats which would pivot at a 90 degree angle for ease of entry or exit. The Strato-bucket seats featured a new contoured design with built-in head rests which would individually adjust five inches forward and backward. Full Malibu options were available including SS identification on door panels and on the center of the steering wheel.
The Estate option was distinguished by the simulated woodgrain panel on the body sides below the moldings and on the tailgate. It also included wheel-house moldings and “Estate” script on the front fenders.
Engine availability was limited to V-8′s. The base engine was a 115-net hp 307. Optionally available was a 350 rated at 145-net hp (2-bbl) or 175-net hp (4-bbl). A 454 V-8 with 245-net hp was also available. No engines were exclusive to the SS or to the Estate.
Although the base price of the Custom was up $78 to $3,038, the SS option was again reduced from $350 to $280. This reflects the fact that the SS option was becoming more cosmetic than performance-related. The Estate option added $161 to the Custom base. The standard El Camino base price increased to $2,976. Custom and standard models weighed 3,635 and 3,038 lbs. respectively. Production was up to an all time high of 64,987.
GMC matched the El Camino this year by adding the High Sierra to the line as its equivalent to the Estate trim option. The SP matched the SS option list. Engine availability was the same as for El Camino. The standard model weighed 3,625 lbs. and cost $2,976. The Custom weighed 3,635 and cost $3,038. The record is silent on the cost of the SP and High Sierra options but it can be assumed that they were very close to the SS and Estate option costs, if not identical. Production of Sprint models was 6,766.
Independent front suspension with coil, springs: capacity 1,900 lbs. Springs: capacity 950 lbs. each. Shock absorbers: 1” diameter. Rear suspension: rear axle capacity 2,700 lbs. Springs: coil; capacity 1,100 lbs. each. Shock absorbers: air-booster type, may be adjusted by varying air pressure to meet load requirements. Engine: 307 V8 standard. Clutch: 10” diameter (307 and 350 V8′s); 11” diameter (454 V8′s).
Electrical: 61-amp-hr. battery. Integral parking, directional signal and side marker lights, front and rear. Generator: 37-amp. Delcotron. Windshield wipers: dual electric with washers. Head restraints: driver and passenger. Tires: bias belted ply G78-14B, G70-14 white lettered (with SS). Brakes: dual master cylinder. Transmission: 3-speed manual.
Transmissions. So that you have a power team in your El Camino that meets just about any set of requirements, you can specify from among four available transmissions (depending upon engine choice).
Standard with standard V8 engine is the 3-speed fully synchronized transmission. Four-speeds are available with other engines. And if you like automatic shifting, order the smooth 3-speed Turbo Hydramatic.
Engines. You can power your El Camino from a wide selection of standard and available engines, all with efficient valve-in-head design and quiet hydraulic valve lifters. All engines deliver excellent performance on no-lead, low-lead or regular fuels.
Standard engine: 307 V8.
Four-Season air conditioning—coolant recovery system (only w air conditioning)—HD battery—Custom Deluxe seat and shoulder belts—Positraction rear axle—HD clutch—console—power door locks—power brake assist —Appearance Guard Group—Operating Convenience Group—63-amp. Delcotron generators—tinted glass—special instrumentation—auxiliary lighting—HD radiator—AM/FM pushbutton radio— AM pushbutton radio—vinyl roof cover —Cruise-Master speed control—swivel Strato-bucket seats (Custom El Camino only)—Comfortilt steering wheel—variable-ratio power steering—special front and rear suspension—wheel covers— 14” x 7” GT wheels—Turbo Hydra-matic—4-speed—4-speed close-ratio— special instrumentation (Custom El Camino only)—deluxe bumpers.
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