For many people, today might not necessarily mark anything so special, but for my husband, Bob Schulenberg, this is a good day. He was just a little boy of four years and three months, and didn’t know a thing about this at the time, and probably wouldn’t have cared if he had known, but down the road twelve years or so, he would have cared. Even when he did care, he wouldn’t have known the exact date or anything. I know, you wonder what in the world I am talking about. Well, it’s the El Camino. I just found out that the car Bob always wanted was first introduced on this day, October 16, 1958.
For a four year old Bob, that day held no significance, and even now, he doesn’t know that this is the 56th anniversary of the El Camino…but he soon will. I don’t recall just how long we owned our El Camino, but it was a long time, and it was definitely Bob’s vehicle. The seat would not go far enough forward for me to easily drive it, so I only did so when it was absolutely necessary. Needless to say, while it was one of Bob’s favorite cars, it really wasn’t mine. I don’t like to have my driving experience be a lot of work for me.
At the time of its introduction by Chevrolet, the El Camino was considered a car-truck hybrid vehicle. That is rather comical to me. A hybrid!! Really!! It was apparently inspired by the Ford Ranchero which had been on the market for two years at the time of the El Camino’s debut. They said it “rides and handles like a convertible, yet hauls and hustles like the workingest thing on wheels.” It may have been a good hauler, but in my opinion, it was nothing like a convertible, and I’ve had one, so I do know.
The El Camino didn’t really catch on, and the model built on an Impala chassis was discontinued in 1960. It was re-introduced in 1964 on the Chevelle frame, and in 1968 they upgraded to the SS version which made it a sport truck. With these changes, the El Camino became one of the iconic muscle cars of the late 1960s and 1970s. It seems every guy wanted one of the newest models. I guess you had to be a guy to appreciate it so much. The El Camino was dropped permanently in 1987, and while Pontiac thought about re-introducing it in 2008, their financial difficulties cause that to be dropped from the plan in 2009.
I’m glad Bob got to have the car-truck of his dreams, even if it wasn’t my very favorite, but I can’t say that I was sorry when he sold it. It had done its duty, and served its purpose, but it was time for him to have a real truck. I can’t say I like driving his pickup either, but as long as he’s happy with it, I’m happy too. Here’s to the El Camino…1970s muscle car, and the car of a little boy’s dreams.
As a young family, my in-laws lived in Montana, and my father-in-law worked for the railroad. Their family was growing, and now they had 3 children, Marlyce, Debbe, and my future husband, Bob. My father-in-law was working for the railroad, and the family was living on railroad property.Things were going well enough, but in 1956, the decision was made to move the family from Dalin, Montana to Martinsville, Montana…neither of which still exist today, as near as I can tell, so unfortunately, I can’t say how long the trip was. That doesn’t really matter, because, any trip with three children under the age of 7 years, had to seem like an eternity. Nevertheless, this trip was about to get a little bit longer. They loaded their belongings into a 1951 Ford pickup truck, which was the first vehicle my father-in-law had ever owned, and it had been purchased brand new in 1951, so it was a nice vehicle. Everything loaded, they set out for Martinsville.
Along the way to Martinsville, a pickup pulled out in front of the 1951 Ford. The accident destroyed all their furniture and totaled the pickup. I can only imagine how awful that was. In those days, seat belts and car seats were unheard of, so I’m sure my in-laws thought they were all about to die. It was a devastating event, but the family was all ok, but, now they were stuck waiting for the police and tow truck, and had to figure out what to do next. The trip took just about the worst possible turn. I can hear the kids now. The girls were most likely crying because they were cold or hungry, and Bob being only 2 years old was either scared, or more likely curious…if I know him. It would be my guess that both of my in-laws had a massive headache from the trauma and worry, both for their family and for their future.
In the end, things turned out ok. The insurance money was enough to buy a 1953 Ford pickup and a 33 foot mobile home. I can’t imagine three kids in a 33 foot mobile home, but I’m sure they felt like it was practically a palace, considering the way things could have gone. Car accidents can conpletely devistate lives, but their little family was alive, and no one was hurt badly, so the rest of it was just stuff. If you can walk away from an accident like that in one piece, you thank the Lord, and count your many blessings.