1970 Chevrolet El Camino SS, A Car That Signalled A New Direction For General Motors (GM)

1970 Chevrolet El Camino SS

‘El Camino’ translates from Spanish as ‘the path’ or ‘the way.’ It is an appropriate name for a car that signalled a new direction for General Motors (GM). From 1959-60 and 1964-87, the Chevrolet El Camino was a vehicle hybrid, combining the practicality of a pickup truck, passenger car comfort, stylish design, and, with the Super Sport package, high-performance muscle.

According to The Drive, the El Camino is “the world’s most loved car/truck.”

In this edition of Muscle Car Milestones, we’ll take a look at the 1970 Chevrolet El Camino SS. 1970 is the year many consider to be the pinnacle for the muscle car. Horsepower and torque numbers were off the charts as manufacturers went to battle in the horsepower war. Sport trucks like the El Camino SS were also taking up arms during this time. Sporting car-like looks with truck bed functionality, the El Camino SS was at home while cruising the boulevard on Saturday night or hauling lumber to the job site on Monday morning. Let’s see what makes the 1970 Chevrolet El Camino a muscle car classic.

Even though they look pretty similar, there are some differences between the El Camino and the Chevelle. The El Camino SS is more than just a Chevelle front end with a pickup bed out back. The El Camino has a longer wheelbase than the Chevelle SS, used the front bumper from the Monte Carlo, and has round parking lamps. The El Camino SS also had front fenders and headlight surrounds that were different from the Chevelle SS.

Buyers of the 1970 El Camino SS had a choice between two V8 powertrains. The 396, which actually displaced 402 cubic inches, could be ordered with the 350 horsepower L34 or the 375 horsepower L78. The 396 L34 was a decent performer. It could sprint from 0 to 60 in 7.6 seconds and run the quarter mile in 15.4 seconds running 92 mph.

Available for the first time ever in the El Camino SS was the 454. It was available with the 360 horsepower LS5 or the 450 horsepower LS6 powerhouse. The 454 LS6 was quite nimble and could run the quarter mile in 13.44 seconds at 108 mph.

Performance options were abundant for the El Camino SS. Buyers could get a Positraction limited-slip rear axle, Muncie four-speed manual transmission, and a cowl induction hood that opened under hard acceleration.

Interiors of the El Camino SS were similar to the Chevelle SS. Drivers could opt for Strato-bucket seats, a center-mounted console, and Comfortilt steering wheel.

The El Camino SS would live on several more years, but nothing quite matched the ferocity and down- and-dirty attitude of the 1970 Chevrolet El Camino SS. Horsepower would soon start to plummet thanks to Uncle Sam and the insurance companies clamping down on the muscle car. Examples of this muscle truck are still around, though not often seen at your local car show or cruise-in.