The 1968 El Camino SS: Practical Performer
As you get older you start to reconsider priorities. You might need something more useful than a sportscar, but you also don’t want to give up the performance. For decades, automakers have introduced models meant to appeal to both a desire for safety and a need for speed. The Chevrolet El Camino was clearly aimed at this market, making it our Muscle Car Monday car of the week.
Throughout the life of the El Camino, ad images emphasized both its sporty profile and its pickup truck-style rear, which was perfect for hauling groceries, furniture, or the kid’s bicycles.
The powers-that-be at Chevrolet tweaked this “all things to all men” formula throughout the vehicle’s production years. In 1968, these efforts resulted in the introduction of an SS package. This was essentially a carbon copy of the Chevelle Super Sport’s options, including Chevy’s legendary Turbo Jet 396 cubic inch engine. With this V8 monster under its hood, the El Camino could wrap up the quarter-mile in 14 seconds – respectable for the time and not too bad by today’s standards.
There was one crucial difference between the Chevelle and El Camino SS packages, however. Try as they might, builders could not adapt the Chevelle’s heavy-duty rear anti-sway suspension to the hybrid truck-sports car frame. This was due to the fact that the El Camino was originally designed to haul freight, not burn rubber.
It points out the problems that inevitably arise when a company tries to please everyone. The El Camino SS came closer than any other attempt to bridge divide between rebellious youth and responsible adulthood, however. For that alone, it deserves its place in automotive history.