Junkyard Find: 1974 Chevrolet El Camino

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 1974 chevrolet el camino

The Chevrolet El Camino reached its largest size in the 1973-1977 fourth-generation version, while engine power decreased at about the same rate as its bumper size increased. Still, these cartrucks are somewhat sought-after today, more so than the later, smaller G-body-based ones.

Since you won’t see many of these vehicles in self-service wrecking yards, I thought this California example was worth including in this series.

The truckified Chevelle was based on the Malibu Wagon chassis, and this one still has its Chevelle-style hood ornament. The coin-style reeding is extra-classy.

I didn’t feel like getting dirty and checking casting numbers on this small-block V8, but it’s probably a 350 (a 400 would have been yanked within days of showing up in the yard, and the 350 is both the base engine for 1974 and the most likely size to have been swapped in later).

Cars don’t rust much in California, but the rainy winters coupled with indifferent GM weatherstripping can make water collect in some areas and cause some rot.

The vinyl upholstery on the seats and door panels has held up remarkably well in the harsh petrochemical air and thermonuclear rays of coastal California.

800 pound payload! Optional captain’s-chair swivel buckets!

[Images: © 2016 Murilee Martin/The Truth About Cars]

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  • SaulTigh SaulTigh on Mar 13, 2016

    A kid I worked with at my first job circa 1993 had a 1976 El Camino. White and red with a camper shell! He kept a complete selection of automotive fluids in the back and frequently had the hood up adding them in the parking lot (mostly coolant as I recall). His dad drove a '78 Firebird that you had to lift the doors to get them to close as they sagged several inches after opening. Mom drove an Astro van. The whole family was a sucker for rolling GM abuse.

  • Cmholm Cmholm on Apr 21, 2016

    Since relocating to Oz for a spell, in the automotive department I feel like I've stepped into an alternative history, where Falcons never went out of style, and car-based utes still grace the showrooms. My understanding is that the current Holden Ute was destined to follow the Monaro/GTO into Pontiac showrooms, until the GFC caused GM to have its come-to-Jesus moment. Too bad, because the GM-Holden (and to a lesser degree Ford) utes can be optioned into very sporty, Mustang-eating road warriors. There is an outfit in the US that will Federalize one for you, causing pulled necks among the Elkey worshippers wherever you go.

  • Analoggrotto Does it include a date with Mary Barra?
  • Tassos ask me if I care.
  • ToolGuy • Nice vehicle, reasonable price, good writeup. I like your ALL CAPS. 🙂"my mid-trim EX tester is saddled with dummy buttons for a function that’s not there"• If you press the Dummy button, does a narcissist show up spouting grandiose comments? Lol.
  • MaintenanceCosts These are everywhere around here. I'm not sure the extra power over a CR-V hybrid is worth the fragile interior materials and the Kia dealership experience.
  • MaintenanceCosts It's such a shame about the unusable ergonomics. I kind of like the looks of this Camaro and by all accounts it's the best-driving of the current generation of ponycars. A manual 2SS would be a really fun toy if only I could see out of it enough to drive safely.