The El Camino was designed by Chevrolet to compete against the successful Ford Ranchero. They tried basing it on a design from the Brookwood in 1959, but that failed. With Ranchero sales still doing well, Chevrolet resurrected the car in 1964 and based it on the Chevelle platform, and it succeeded to outlive the Ranchero by many years. Chevrolet marketed the new El Camino as a utility vehicle, and originally did not include their most powerful engines. By 1965 performance was upgraded with the optional 327 ci V8 engine putting out 350 horsepower, and in 1966 the lbig block 396 ci V8 was newly available.
The El Camino was lenthened in 1968, based off the Chevelle station wagon wheelbase. True performance was available with the SS396, which was similar to the Chevelle version. The 396 ci V8 engine was actually bored out to 402 ci for the 1970 SS396. The LS6 engine was also an option in 1970, which was the largest Chevrolet engine at the time; 454 ci V8 with 450 horsepower. Power ratings started falling in 1971 due to the mandated use of unleaded fuel and stricter emission standards. Styling drastically shanged in 1973 to match the changes witht he Chevelle model. Although it was the largest El Camino, it was lighter than the previous years. The El Camino would be built through 1987, and from 1978 on shared the same platforms as the Malibu and Monte Carlo.