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.
When I look at the man my husband, Bob has become, I can’t help but think back on the young man he was when I first met him, and imagine the boy he used to be. Bob has been and always will be very much into cars. Really, from the time he was young, to the present day. Cars have intrigued him. As a kid, he had lots of model cars. They pretty much dominated his time and his room. Pictures of his collections dominated his photo album too. He put the cars together with much patience and great care. If you have ever looked at a model car, before it was put together, you will know that there is a multitude od tiny pieces that must be glued in and in the proper order for the car to come together and look the way it should. Since I don’t really like to do puzzles, and this seems much like a puzzle to me, I think that putting a model car together would drive me crazy. Nevertheless, it was a pastime that Bob really enjoyed.
I didn’t know this before I knew Bob, but the makers of model cars keep a record of sorts on the cars they have made, much like baseball cards or football cards, you can collect them all. And, I think Bob may have done just that when he was a young man. I remember buying some for him in later years, and that is when I discovered that to do so correctly, I needed to know which ones he already had, because duplicates really made no sense…unless a person just wanted to have lots of different colored Mustangs.
These cars were not toys, as I’m sure Bob’s younger siblings and especially his little brother, Ron would find out. As a child who sees a plastic car will tell you…”It looked like a toy to me!” That was usually said after they found themselves in hot water with the model car’s owner. It’s an innocent mistake, when you think about it. All their toys are about that size, so what makes this car so special that it can’t be driven. Well, I suppose the real answer would lie in the fact that the car’s wheels were glued in place…or at least a lot of them were. The fact that the cars wheels would not move might make it difficult to drive it, but that is rarely a deterrent to a kid who wants to look the car over and play with it, but a big brother who threatens to rip your head off, might just make you think twice before you touch one of these priceless treasures…if you want to live, that is.
As the years have passed, Bob’s love of cars has only grown. Nevertheless, these days he has bigger fish to fry than the little model cars he used to love to spend so much time making. Now, real cars dominate his free time. He is constantly working on a car for this person or that person, and once in a while even himself…or me!! He is constantly covered in grease from head to toe. He seldom uses glue to put things back together, but there are times when a repair does call for a sealant or something similar. I suppose that if he had time, he might enjoy putting together model cars again, but thankfully for me, he doesn’t have a lot of time for such things. No, we don’t have model cars lining the headboard of our bed, but that doesn’t mean he likes then any less. And it doesn’t mean that our home is free of them either. While most of them have been given away or stored away in boxes, there is still one model car that gets to live out in the open. In our living room, on a shelf with knick-knacks, sits a model car of one of his favorite kinds…the El Camino. He used to have an one years ago. It is long since gone, but it’s memory lives on in the form of a model car.