Chevrolet El Camino third generation 1968 to 1972
Chevrolet El Camino for 1968 is still on the Chevelle platform and the trim features it sports-both inside and out- are from the Malibu. Optional choices include carpeting, cloth with vinyl or an all cloth bench seat or the vinyl Strato buckets with a center console. Other optional offers in “68 include posi-traction and front power disk brakes to increase stopping power. The high performance SS is introduced in ’68 with two choices. The basic 396 cu in engine produces 325 bhp (242 kW) or you can kick it up a notch to a version putting out 350 bhp (260 kW). Back on the options list is an engine not seen since ’66 – the L78 supplying 375 bhp (280 kW) its equipped with solid lifters, big port heads and topped off by the Holly 800 cfm carburetor bolted to the low rise aluminum intake. All models come with the basic three on a tree standard but the automatic and a four speed standard transmission are available as an option for the Super Sport in 1968.
For the 1969 model year all the changes are minor ones with a slightly rounded front clip and the four headlight set up is connected by a chrome bar in the grill with the slotted front holding the clearance lights. The interior has four round pods for the instruments and optional equipment includes power windows and power door locks. The tried and true 350 V8 is available for the El Camino for the first time in ’68. The SS power options display the SS emblem in a blacked out grill and the engine is under a double dome hood. The basic 396 cu in engine puts out 265 horse power or a 325 hp version is another choice, but also on the table are a 350 hp version or the ultimate 396 SS will deliver 375 hp (280 kW).
The El Camino for 1970 has a more squared up look outside and the interior as well receives a makeover. The El Camino in select models, can now be ordered with the largest power plant in the GM arsenal, the LS6 454 cu in engine putting out 450 hp (336 kW) and producing 500 ft-lb of torque. This combo enables the El Camino to do the quarter mile in the 13 second range and reach a top speed of 108 mph (174kmh). The SS396 still displays “396” emblems and the basic engine is still the same but it has been bored to 402 cu in (6.6 L) now.
Again in 1971 the El Camino gets a revised front clip with the grill now holding two double lens headlights and the bumper holds the parking lights, signals, and side marker lights. The EPA order for the ’71 model year is “reduce emissions” so lower compression and the exhaust cleansing catalytic converter have dropped the output of all the GM engines. The power is further reduced with the addition of the GM “A.I.R.” system to the exhaust which does help with emission reductions. The LS6 454 is gone, never to return as an option and the newest model addition to the lineup is the rebadged “G.M.C. Sprint” with similar lines and also the same power train as the El Camino.
Other than the El Camino having side marker lights moved to the fenders in 1972 there are no other obvious changes The numbers for horse power ratings took another drop with the more accurate net figures being used; although the actual output is no different than the ’71 models. The SS versions have a “W” added to their VIN number and can be equipped with any engine and transmission combination available from Chevrolet Division.