March 17, 2008, - 11:48 pm

Everything Old–AND Ugly–Is New Again: America’s Mullet Auto Makes a Comeback

By Debbie Schlussel
America’s national mullet of a car–“business in the front, party in the back”–is making a comeback. And like a mullet, some things shouldn’t make a come back. The El Camino could be one of ’em, depending upon whether odd looks or functionality and truck mileage are your priority.
Yup, possibly the ugliest American car ever made–but with a cult following and certain kitsch–the El Camino is baaaack. No joke. GM–in its dire economic conditions–is for some reason bringing back the half-breed vehicle, half-car/half-truck, from the ’70s.
Old El Camino . . .


New 2010 El Camino . . .


It’s strange that GM would do this because the car was phased out and became less popular in America as gas prices went up. It was guzzler. In addition, the El Camino won’t even be made here. GM is making the Chevy El Camino in Australia, not here. So, the company won’t even benefit from the “Made in America” ethos among patriotic buyers. The El Camino will be a 2010 Pontiac G8-based sport truck, equipped with a 361-horsepower V8 engine, which can haul more than 1,000 pounds. It basically looks like a Pontiac Fiero (which was ugly enough) with a longer trunk, or a very flat low-rider truck.
Again, I’m not sure why anyone–with gas approaching $4 per gallon–would want a V8 engine and a car that has very little passenger room.
I asked my friend, Ray Wert, independent auto industry journalist–he’s like the Matt Drudge (only way better) of cars and gets all the car scoops before everyone else (and his staff does road tests, etc.)–and Editor-in-Chief of the cool car site, Jalopnik, for the mileage of the new El Camino, since I couldn’t find it anywhere. Here’s what he had to say, and he addresses my questions about the gas guzzling:

[The mileage is] unannounced, but if it’s the same as the V8-engined G8 GT, it s car-sized brother, it’s 15 MPG city / 24 MPG highway. That would give it better fuel economy than any truck GM currently makes — also faster than any truck GM currently makes.
It [the mileage] is better than any truck anyone makes. For instance, the Toyota Tundra gets 14 MPG city / 19 MPG highway, the Honda Ridgeline gets 15 MPG city / 20 MPG highway and the Nissan Frontier gets 14 MPG city / 19 MPG highway. Standard trucks use more gas than cars do because they’re heavy, have larger tires and are built on platforms that are not designed for optimal fuel efficiency. The new El Camino is built on a car-based platform and therefore uses less gas than standard pickups.
Many people buy standard pickups and other haulers because they need them. There are also many people who buy them because they don’t need them. The people that don’t need them are rapidly leaving the segment in search for better fuel economy — some may decide to get “in-between” vehicles like the new El Cam. Most will move to cars.

Currently, GM’s Pontiac Web site is holding a contest to name the new El Camino (I guess they don’t want to call an El Camino, “El Camino”). The winner gets a free new “Car Formerly Known As El Camino” encrusted with his/her winning euphemism. One of my friends suggests, “The Sheik Mobile.” My suggestions: “K-Fed’s New Ride,” “Mullet Wheelz,” “Ahmadinejad’s Hearse,” “Non-WNBA Player Ride,” “El Illegal Alien Smuggalino,” and “PimpMobile ’10”. I can see this car becoming the “Hooptee” of choice for Gangsta America.
Jalopnik has more specifics, details, and video about the new El Cam (including details and pics of everything “under the skin” of the new El Camino). And like I said, it’s the go-to site for all the early scoops and details on cars. (Who sez Jews don’t know about cars? That’s right, Ray is one of my peeps.)
Flashback: Jalopnik on the 1975 El Camino.
Here’s a pic of my kind of El Camino. Too bad it’s a toy (from Patto’s Place) . . .


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10 Responses

The el Camino. Back in the early 70s I was very good at refinishing furniture. I got hooked up with a Marvin Hoffman of Philadelphia that had a lot of fine old furniture that he would get through estate sales. He had an el Camino that he outfitted with a headboard and footboard, both were the same size, of this wrought iron bed fixed to either side. We used to pile up high furniture above the sides of the el Camino. Marvin took care of the gathering of furniture and I took care of making it look new again. The el Camino fit right in with it’s look what we were doing.

John Cunningham on March 18, 2008 at 7:35 am

As a competitive move, Ford should now bring back the Ranchero !!!!

Shootist on March 18, 2008 at 8:13 am

Sorry Debbie. You ask any car enthusiast like myself, the ultimate mullet mobile that you see parked in all the trailer parks is the 80’s style Chevy Camaro.

RadicalRightWinger on March 18, 2008 at 8:52 am

OMG! That yellow El Camino, my very first boyfriend had that one!
I love the old El Camino, don’t like the look of the new one at all. My brother in law had one of the old black ones, it was shaaarp!

kozanne on March 18, 2008 at 1:20 pm

Just a gut feeling–but I think it has possiblilities to sell pretty well. Today, the focus is on capturing the niche markets–this certainly will stand as one of those. From the consumer side–the major issue for many consumers is is to BE DIFFERENT.
Practicality-wise, if the cab is too small like a Fiero, it will probably not sell much, but if the cab space is adequate–I might check into one for myself.
Lot’s of people like the truck bed for easy cargo hauling-but not the truck milage. At $4-6/gallon for gas–all this stuff will be looked at differently than in the past–as fuel economy has got to be considered too.

BB on March 18, 2008 at 5:33 pm

El Camino…the official Bill Clinton “date rape” car.
In February 1994, Bill Clinton wanted to pass himself off as a good ol’ boy when he told workers at a Louisiana truck plant…
“When I was a younger man and had a life, I owned an El Camino pickup in the ’70s. It was a real sort of Southern deal. I had Astroturf in the back. You don’t want to know why, but I did.”
Straight from “The Horn-Dog-in-Chief”.

Thee_Bruno on March 19, 2008 at 2:21 pm

i feel as a fellow el camino owner (1978) it is a very good car and i think that debbie dose not know what she is talking about. and i cant to see the new el camino in action .

el camino owner on August 9, 2009 at 7:11 am

It is a good thing and a bad thing that the El Camino is no longer making a comeback. It’s good because the car’s ugly like you said. It’s bad because of the General Motors bailout. It was supposed to be released as the 2010 Pontiac G8 ST. Well, Pontiac and Saturn have been discontinued by General Motors. So the El Camino revival probably would never happen.

Matthew on December 7, 2009 at 12:04 pm

This is the best car i have ever seen in my life. Too bad they arn’t making them in America becuase i would have purchised me one. I guess il have to get one shiped to me from Austrelia. Who ever thinks this car is ugly dose not have good taste for cars.

martin on February 13, 2010 at 2:20 pm


ray on February 20, 2012 at 2:59 pm

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