The first El Camino from General Motors wasn’t a Chevy pickup but a one-off Cadillac show car created for the 1954 Motorama.
General Motors has gotten plenty of mileage out of the El Camino name over the years, primarily on a familiar series of passenger car-based pickups produced by Chevrolet in 1959-60 and from 1964 to 1987. (The nameplate was inspired by El Camino Real, the King’s Highway, a 600-mile road in Spanish California.) But a few years earlier, the name was first used on a 1954 Cadillac Motorama dream car.
The design of El Camino the first is attributed to Cadillac styling manager Ken Glowacke, leading a team of young stylists that included future GM design star David Holls, and it’s said that Holls was a major contributor to the final design. A rakish, close-coupled two-place coupe, the car foreshadowed a number of styling futures that would soon appear on Cadillac production vehicles.
+ The brushed stainless steel roof panel that later featured on the 1957 El Dorado Brougham.
+ The sharply tailored tailfins, which next turned up on the 1955-56 El Dorado Biarritz Convertible, followed by the rest of the Cadillac line for 1957-58.
+ Quad headlamps, which also were featured on the El Dorado Brougham in 1957, then adopted for all Cadillacs across the board from 1958 on.
The 1954 Motorama tour, which opened at the Waldorf Astoria on January 26, also included a sibling to the El Camino: La Espada, similar in most respects but with some trim variations and constructed in a convertible body style. La Espada is shown above at the luxurious Key Biscayne Hotel in Miami, a popular destination for GM photo shoots in the Harley Earl years.
Like most of the Motorama show cars, El Camino and La Espada were constructed on modified production car chassis with fiberglass bodies. But unlike many of the idea cars from the Motor City in the ’50s, the El Camino was reportedly fully functional and road worthy, sporting a 331 cubic-inch V8 and Hydra-Matic transmission. The eventual fate of the original El Camino has never been officially verified, but after all these years the car is lost and presumed to be destroyed.
Article courtesy of Mac's Motor City Garage.