If you’re a fan of Chevrolet’s El Camino, then you know that the popular model made its debut with the 1959 model year. The El Camino was first built on a full-size Chevroletplatform, then the Chevelle/A-body platform, ending on the G-body platform. But, did you know that Chevrolet built something very similar 23 years earlier? Way back in 1936, the Great Depression had the country in a stranglehold. It was during this time that many small automotive manufacturers were dissolved, and those that remained viable, needed to adapt to the then-current situation. That situation meant that Americans were doing more with less, and Chevrolet had what they thought was a great idea that fit that belief.
In 1936, someone convinced the management team at Chevrolet that there was a customer need for a dual-purpose vehicle. This vehicle needed to be able to transport the family from the family farm into town, and then haul groceries and whatnot back to the farm. While the cars of the day were great for hauling the family, and the trucks did an excellent job of hauling supplies, neither seemed to both very well.
Wanted to alleviate the need for multiple vehicles, Chevrolet introduced the Standard coupe pickup. It was advertised by Chevrolet as a “Standard passenger car that has been adapted for commercial use.” The car/truck was built by the Fisher Body Company by using a Standard coupe as the platform. On early models, the front passenger’s side fender was modified to accept a fender-mounted spare tire after it was removed from the trunk.
The trunk lid was removed, and the trunk area was filled with a permanently-mounted pick-up bed. This 5-foot long bed included wood planks, metal strips, sides, and a tailgate much like the larger Chevrolet ½ ton pickup, minus the Chevrolet script. The bed extended out of the trunk, and was flush with the rear bumper. Step pads were added to the rear bumper as well, so getting in and out of the bed was easier. Finally, the Standard coupe rear leaf springs were replaced with heavier-duty springs taken from the sedan.
Not helping the load-carrying capacity was the 79 horsepower six-cylinder engine displacing a small 207 cubic-inches. Behind that was a three-speed manual transmission. As a truck, it definitely needed more power.
When the dust settled, there were only 3,183 Standard coupe pickups made. Currently, there are less than 10 known vehicles that exist today, and we’re told that only three of them are considered to be in original/restorable condition.
This thought-to-be-useful vehicle cost the buyer a whopping $535. This was roughly $100 more than the actual ½ ton pickup, but it was thought the car/truck’s universal capabilities would warrant the upcharge. In 2010, One of these sold at the Barrett-Jackson Orange County Action for $22,000 dollars. If you had bought it new, that would definitely be a great return on your investment.
Article courtesy of Chevy Hardcore, written by Randy Bolig.