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Chevy EL Camnio - Which year model is best made?

I am looking to sell my current car (Lexus IS 250 2007) and fufill my life long dream of owning an El Camino. I don’t exactly know where to start with making sure I select a good year and how to tell if it has been cared for properly over the years. Any suggestions/advice? Thank you!

They are all old, so I wonder about making one your daily driver. No way to keep the IS?

As to which one, you need to decide which one you like. I’d prefer '72 or older to avoid the ‘battering ram’ bumpers. But that’s me.

I believe the rarest one was the 1960. It was a novelty when it came out in 59, but by 1960, the novelty wore off and they didn’t sell many. I wish I had kept mine. They were reintroduced in 64 on the mid sized chassis and to me, the best ones were made between 64 through early 71.

Thanks y’all. I really do not want to keep the IS; it is a good car but I just don’t love it ya know? I only drive to work and around town and I am okay with putting some work into an ElCo. I guess I do worry too though about it passing emissions etc. with them all being so old.

I think my nephew will sell you his. Its just a Chevy. Not much difference. With all the pros and cons. Me thinks ye will be a mite disappointed.

Oh! I suppose in regard to emissions it would be grandfathered in.

It’ll be so old I doubt emissions will be a problem. But keeping it running might, do you have a mechanic that knows these old beasts? It doesn’t sound like you’ve worked on them.

Just looked over El Camino’s on ebay. I like the '66 - '67 - '68’s. They should have minimal emissions equipment and be good performers with any V8. The '59 is very sharp. Many look to be heavily customized which can make for a difficult daily driver. If this is the OP’s dream it does look like a fun car/truck, but I’d keep the IS just for a dependable back up.

Get a daily driver and the El Camino. You might get something like $15,000 for your IS-250. That just might be what a decent 60’s/early 70’s El Camino will const at Hemmings. Have you driven one? Do that before you sell the IS. You might decide you don’t like it after all.

An 81 might make a good daily driver if you can find a good one and have a good mechanic who specializes in carbureted GM vehicles.

When talking about El Camino’s (Malibu pick-up’s) it’s VERY hard to use the term “best built” for any of them…They were ALL pretty crappy when it comes to build quality…I like the ones with the reverse curve rear windows…Finding one that is rust-free, has all it’s trim pieces and the tailgate operates properly will be very difficult…The rear bumper, which mounts the taillights, is a very important and almost impossible to find piece…The factory paint job was terrible and most of the re-paint jobs are even worse. So finding a “Cherry” El Camino will involve serious money and fixing up a beater will cost even more by the time you are done…

This one has possibilities…

I had a 68 SS 327V8 4 speed. This was in 1984 and drove it for 2 years. I put HEI on it and a Holley carb. Drove it every day , no problems. A 350V8 is easy to find parts for. You can even put a EFI late model 350V8 in it if you want. Body parts are also easy to come by. You sill can find good ones if you look. It may take awhile but you find one. If you have the money to buy the right one you will be no worse off than paying 35-50k for a new truck. Remenber its just vehicle. Its made of parts that can be replaced. Once replaced they are new. Same as a new car. These vehicles had real frames if the frame is good and the body good or better, You can make what you want. So if go thru it, new or low mile motor same with trans , good body, why would it not be a good daily driver. All cars lose value. So find the one you like have checked out and buy it if its ok.
A good way to look at it too is, buy a nice one all done for 20K drive it 2-3 years sell it for 10-15k. If you buy a new car for 20-30K drive it 2-3 years you will lose about the same money.

Caddyman. That would be a good one to buy. My Dad had one like it. It was a good car. The bad was the guy he got from had the 454 replaced with a 350. 454’s were rare those years.
My Dad called one day and wanted me to find a headliner for it. So I call around and found one after a few days. I called to tell him, he go a head and get it in case is fix not work. What he had done was took his staple gun and staple a diamond pattern in it so the loose fabric made the diamond. He then glued a fabric button over the staple. The headliner I got went with the car when he sold it 2 years later. Boy I wish I had that car and him back. He was a real car guy.

I don’t think anything before '92 is required to be smogged. I could be wrong, though, I don’t live in one of those states

If you like the idea of the El Camino without the poor reliability, have you considered the Chevy SSR of a decade ago? Like the El Camino, it was a car-based small pickup, but the SSR had the engine of a Corvette and one really neat feature - a hard convertible roof. I don’t have any idea what they’re going for these days. They were a complete flop at the time mostly because they were priced quite high, and lacked both the performance of a sports car and the utility of a truck. But it looked great and would have been fun for top-down cruising. I thought they were about as close to a show car as any production vehicle I’d ever seen.

Anyhow, probably too expensive, but the closest thing to a modern El Camino outside Australia, where ‘utes’, the descendants of the El Camino/Ranchero, are still very popular. The need to make utes is why GM still has a rear-wheel-drive car Down Under, a Holden sedan they imported without success in the nineties as a Pontiac GTO and a few years later as a G8. They should have just brought in the ute version and resurrected the El Camino. A variant of that same Holden chassis is under the current Camaro, the new Chevy police cruiser, and next year’s Chevy SS. If you could examine the DNA of a modern Camaro you’d find a little El Camino.

I have fond memories of El Caminos, too. I was a kid in the sixties and the father of neighbor kids had one. He was a handyman so the back was always full of paint cans and drop cloths. Greenish blue metallic, about a '67, then a gold one from the early seventies. Hm, I think was a less cool Ford Ranchero. Or maybe the rarer GMC version of the El Camino, the Caballero. All these Spanish names. I guess that trend was set set when Ford intriduced the Ranchero, the earliest of the bunch.

I’m very partial to the 1966 El Camino SS version. My brother has owned one since 1976 and it’s a daily driver. I gave up trying to buy it from him many years ago.

There is no good year. They are ALL confused…

Why settle for anything less

I really appreciate all of the advice and comments y’all! I am still going to try and sell the IS but will heed the advice of driving an el camino before purchasing. I do have a good mechanic who is willing to check out any potentials for me so I feel like if I take my time on this I can find the right one.