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Business in the Front, Party in the Back
December 17, 2010 12:59 PM   Subscribe

After nixing the idea a year ago, Chevy is again toying with the idea of bringing back the El Camino in 2015. The car will be modeled after the Holden Ute, a popular vehicle in Australia.
posted by reenum (68 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
When was the last time GM came out with a car that wasn't just a remake of an older car?
posted by sideshow at 1:06 PM on December 17, 2010 [4 favorites]


In Western Australia we have a saying about the utes.

"Better have your skipper's ticket"
posted by Talez at 1:10 PM on December 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


How many car companies really push design from year to year? The PT Cruiser was the last major company car that I can remember which didn't seem like a slight tweak on last year's design, and that line of car-things died this year.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:10 PM on December 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


The El Camino was mainly designed with child molesters in mind, right? Will the new design reflect that? It better, or they won't sell any!
posted by interrobang at 1:11 PM on December 17, 2010


Utes seem to be very Australian - a vehicle type that originated there (?) and which has been slowly spreading. Why did they develop there? It seems that regular pick-ups weren't quite right for conditions and I wonder what conditions those are.
posted by jet_silver at 1:12 PM on December 17, 2010


Ah, that's where I saw the name before ...
Top Gear takes on the Vauxhall VXR8 Bathurst and the Holden Maloo.
posted by grabbingsand at 1:12 PM on December 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


The "New GM" is oddly reminiscent of the shitty old GM of the 1970s.

Ford knows better than to bring back the Pinto. GM needs to come up with something actually interesting, rather than recycling old ideas that were already reviled to start with. (And, seriously. Out of GM's multitude of actually-decent overseas partnerships, they're importing a Holden?)
posted by schmod at 1:12 PM on December 17, 2010


My new mullet is gonna ROCK!
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:13 PM on December 17, 2010


The El Camino was mainly designed with child molesters in mind, right? Will the new design reflect that? It better, or they won't sell any!
posted by interrobang


>90% of the El Camino owners I've known were guys trying to bring the Jeff Lebowski lifestyle to rural Nebraska... way back before it was known as the Jeff Lebowski lifestyle.
posted by COBRA! at 1:14 PM on December 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


The El Camino was directed toward people that for some reason wanted the appearance of a pickup truck, but didn't want any of the functionality. Also, they only have one friend.
posted by 2bucksplus at 1:14 PM on December 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


Chevy: We're Exhausted.

Chevrolet: Where's mommy? Go find mommy.

I guess I don't see how weathered nostalgia is gonna keep them afloat. and I'm still pissed off at their idiotic slogan for the Volt.
posted by boo_radley at 1:14 PM on December 17, 2010


Can anyone explain why the Ute is popular in Australia? Is there a region specific use case that makes the Ute a better choice over a regular pickup truck?

But are there and folks in the U.S. seriously demanding the comeback of the El Camino (hipsters don't count)? I think Subaru's Baja is similar, but again, is it very popular in the states?

I live in SLC and trucks are pretty popular, but I think I've seen two Bajas on the road this year. I guess I'm just not seeing the appeal.

Also, the Ute looks like a mutated Monte Carlo.
posted by jnrussell at 1:15 PM on December 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Meanwhile, real mini-pickups that can pull 30mpg and fit into compact car spots are all dead and gone.

I don't want a car that thinks it's a truck. I want a truck that thinks it's a car.
posted by Slap*Happy at 1:15 PM on December 17, 2010 [5 favorites]


GM has a history of this. The new GTO (which was a great car) was basically a rebodied Holden, as was the G8. Unfortunately nobody wants to buy a Pontiac because they associate the brand with 4 wheeled rolling bins of generic plastic.

Also, the Saturn Sky/ Pontiac Solstace was based off the Opel GT.

Unfortuantly, Americans want Big Fucking Stupid Cars, which is why we don't get the Fabulous Ford Focus RS that the Euros do, or the wonderful Civic Type R. No, we get he Toyota Venza and crossovers. Toyota was going to bring the wonderful FT-86 concept to market, but it looks like they're going to make that into the next Solara.

Conversely, there are a few things that they're doing right. Mainly the Ford Festiva, which is a great callback to the Focus hatchback of a few years back (Great car, save for the cupholders)

But at the end of the day, in Surburban America, people want oversized blobs of metal to get them from point A to point B, and to be as anonymous as possible. Which is why if they do bring it to market it won't sell well. It's too distinct.
posted by hellojed at 1:17 PM on December 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


I drove a 1983 El Camino for half a decade. It was uniformly badass. My father drove a late 70's Ranchero. They were fantastic.

I typically hate the ride of most trucks, but need a light-duty truck due to the businesses I run. I compromised on a Ford Ranger. There's not a day that doesn't pass in which I don't miss my Elky. (Double, Triple, Quadruple Negatives!)

Having said that, the Ute is hideous. I'm sure it will grow on me.
posted by The Giant Squid at 1:18 PM on December 17, 2010


The front is like a car
The back is like a truck
The front is where you kiss
The back is where you...

EL CAMINO!
EL EL CAMINO!
EL CAMINO!
EL EL CAMINO!

-- The Dictatortots
posted by BitterOldPunk at 1:18 PM on December 17, 2010 [6 favorites]


How many car companies really push design from year to year? The PT Cruiser was the last major company car that I can remember which didn't seem like a slight tweak on last year's design, and that line of car-things died this year.

Don't forget the Pontiac Aztek!

And, as a former PT Cruiser driver (which was Chrysler, not GM BTW), let me tell you that that car's demise couldn't have come fast enough. Heavy as a brick, bad gas mileage, clumsy handling, a powerful engine that wasn't actually fast, and one of the worst interiors I've ever seen on a car in terms of both aesthetics and ergonomics. Also, it was butt-ugly.

Usually, you need to trade between form, function, and value. The PT Cruiser remarkably managed to fail at all three.

As you can probably tell, I have a lot of bottled-up rage against that car. Some ideas should have stayed on the drawing board.
posted by schmod at 1:18 PM on December 17, 2010


jnrussell: "Can anyone explain why the Ute is popular in Australia?"

Worrrrl, how'n'mi'get sheep t' market? An' mum t' church on Sunday? Hey?
(I'm paraphrasing.)
posted by boo_radley at 1:19 PM on December 17, 2010


You guys are crazy. Caminos are fucking awesome. It's for the driver who wants a Chevelle but occasionally needs to pick stuff up from the hardware store. It's perfect for the man who can't commit to his midlife crisis.
posted by Nahum Tate at 1:19 PM on December 17, 2010 [4 favorites]


Dashing through the bush,
In a rusty Holden Ute.
Kicking up the dust,
Esky in the boot.
Kelpie by my side,
Singing Christmas songs.
It's summer time and I am in
My singlet, shorts & thongs.

CHORUS:
OH, JINGLE BELLS, JINGLE BELLS
JINGLE ALL THE WAY
CHRISTMAS IN AUSTRALIA
ON A SCORCHING SUMMER'S DAY
JINGLE BELLS, JINGLE BELLS
CHRISTMAS TIME IS BEAUT
OH WHAT FUN IT IS TO RIDE
IN A RUSTY HOLDEN UTE

Sorry. But it's a week before Christmas, how could I resist?!?
posted by malibustacey9999 at 1:20 PM on December 17, 2010 [16 favorites]


Also, the Ute looks like a mutated Monte Carlo.

Only fair, the El Camino was a mutated Malibu.
posted by The Giant Squid at 1:20 PM on December 17, 2010


The PT Cruiser was the last major company car that I can remember which didn't seem like a slight tweak on last year's design...
True. It was a tweak on a design from the 1930's. Horrid, foul little things.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:22 PM on December 17, 2010


Horrid, foul little things.

And they sold so well they had waiting lists!
posted by hellojed at 1:23 PM on December 17, 2010


I want them to release a special Bill Clinton edition with astroturf in the bed.
posted by entropicamericana at 1:23 PM on December 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


It's for the driver who wants a Chevelle but occasionally needs to pick stuff up from the hardware store.

Guilty. As. Charged.
posted by The Giant Squid at 1:23 PM on December 17, 2010


Fuck yeah! The Gentleman's Pickup will return.
posted by mathowie at 1:23 PM on December 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


El Camino beautiful, Holden Ute ugly!
posted by wemayfreeze at 1:27 PM on December 17, 2010


All these car-trucks wish they were as sweet as the Subaru Brat. I was fortunate enough to have as my first car , a Brat. Drove it all through High School and beyond. Best vehicle ever made.
posted by Liquidwolf at 1:31 PM on December 17, 2010


I've seen a different version of the little ditty that BitterOldPunk posted above (maybe I even saw it in a previous post, but I can't find it at the moment):

The front is like a car
The back is like a truck
The front is where you sit
The back is where you... haul cargo
posted by amyms at 1:36 PM on December 17, 2010


Every pool cleaner in America will want one.
posted by Standeck at 1:38 PM on December 17, 2010


Can anyone explain why the Ute is popular in Australia?

Because (at least this is what I heard when GM first toyed with the idea) they do 140mph, which makes it a little quicker fin the Outback. Unless it's pollution concerns, I do not understand why GM hasn't just imported Holden wholesale instead of fucking up their work with mistakes like the Pontiac G8 launch. Just give me a Commodore and get out of the way (for safety's sake).
posted by yerfatma at 1:41 PM on December 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Well, I guess it's not really aimed at my demographic, but I find the Ute not that appealing, at all.
posted by crunchland at 1:44 PM on December 17, 2010


I had the use of an El Camino back in the day. Perfect for hauling small loads during the week, and for hauling ass on the weekends. Loved it, they make a lot of sense to me for city use.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 1:46 PM on December 17, 2010


I want a car that has the front of a truck, but the back of a sedan.
posted by TwelveTwo at 1:53 PM on December 17, 2010


Ah, the return of the El Camino. I had the unfortunate experience of learning to drive in one of these about 5 years after it should have been scrapped. We had a 71 El Camino that was the first new car my dad ever bought. As a result we still had it in the early 90's when I learned how to drive. It may have had its day back then, and the V8 350 engine had a lot of oomph, but by the time I got around to driving it it was in pretty sad shape. It had spent the better part of a decade in the Chicago area by that point, so all the lower potions of the body panels were swiss cheesed with rust, or on their way there due to the salted roads in the winter. Years earlier, we used it for family vacations, so the bed had a shell, and was carpeted. there was also a small, carpet covered bench, since my brother and I would ride in the bed so we had room to play and move around during our week long road trips to visit family.

By the time I started driving it, it got about 9 miles to the gallon, stalled when you accelerated too hard (or too softly for that matter), and the neutral switch was broken, so the car could only be re-started in park. Plus at least one engine mount was busted since the car made the most horrible noises under acceleration since the entire engine would torque and slightly askew the drive shaft. Oh, and it only had the factory installed AM radio. My friends referred to it as "The Cruck" half car, half truck. Many a week-end was spent with half a dozen friends piled into the back, hunched over by the low ceiling of the shell, while screaming since the car stalled out again when I tried to make an unprotected left turn, and got just enough momentum to roll into oncoming traffic, and I had to slam it into park, restart the engine, and pray I could get it out of traffic. It was almost outwieghed by the times when someone would want to drag in their mid-late 80's underpowered low-end sports car, and the beater with 8 teenagers in it and a body that seemed to be held together by rust, would leap off the line and leave them in the dust.

During my senior year of High School, we moved to California. This reawakened my dads dream of restoring his beloved and by now "classic" cruck. This also meant I had to navigate this land yacht through parking lots filled with compact spaces, and "Normal" spaces the still seemed to leave the last 2 feet of the car hanging out of the space. For a car with such a ridiculously long wheel base, even making it into the space could be a challenge. I once tore up someones front corner panel pulling into a space. The damage to my car was a cracked headlight lens, the sucker was a tank. The cruck was finally put out of its misery when my dad realized that there were a lot pf people in California who had the same car, but since they lived there for the entire lifetime of the vehicle, had kept their cars in much better condition. So the costs of restoration no longer made it worth while.

So if releasing this car again, means it can inflict the same nightmare on some poor teenager in another deacde or two, I am all for it.
posted by Badgermann at 2:00 PM on December 17, 2010 [6 favorites]


They wouldn't be any fun for kids these days... probably illegal to ride in the back in most jurisdictions.
posted by candyland at 2:01 PM on December 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


God, these are all over Australia's Northern Territory (well, Darwin and Jabiru, at least), and the number that have the type of custom paint jobs I'd normally associate with Mexican-American car fanatics here in the US is staggering.

I visited the NT from America for the first time in October, and a ute was the very first thing I took a picture of after getting off the plane. I find their affinity for it so bizarre. There are plenty of reasons to believe that Australians represent a midpoint between Brits and Americans, but there's one big reason to confirm Territorian Australians are also a midpoint between 1978 and 1982. Thanks, Holden!
posted by GamblingBlues at 2:01 PM on December 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


I hope it comes stock with V10 and a free Hummer. Can't figure out why GM was nationalized.
posted by larry_darrell at 2:03 PM on December 17, 2010


I know a guy who modified his El Camino to be a 4x4 off-roader, with the big tires and everything. I've taken to calling it the Alabama Pimp Mobile.
posted by Tacodog at 2:07 PM on December 17, 2010


Some El Caminos used to have these awesome backward-facing seats in the truck part behind the cab. As a kid, I always wanted to ride in one of those seats. Probably the new ones won't have that. *sigh*
posted by not that girl at 2:23 PM on December 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


I want them to release a special Bill Clinton edition with astroturf in the bed.

Where he can plant Flowers?

Not my joke. God, where did that one come from..?
posted by Capt. Renault at 2:35 PM on December 17, 2010


The ute is iconic Australiana, and the Holden Ute is its full and proper expression. NOT FORDIST

There's a picture of a ute parked in front of a pub in the current Australian passport. Their popularity is no great mystery - they're fun to drive, and can carry things. A rebadged Holden ute from GM has been alleged/promised for quite some time (bloody G8 Pontiac…), but I'll believe it (and buy one) when I see it.

The Evolution of the ute (ad)
posted by zamboni at 2:53 PM on December 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


Sweet! Time to drag out the disparaging Ford acronyms, I see ...

Fix Or Repair Daily
Found On Road Dead
First On Recall Day
Fatally Obese Redneck Driver
Factory Ordered Road Disaster
Fucked On Race Day.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 3:14 PM on December 17, 2010


The first car I ever had was a 1968 Ranchero that my dad picked up dirt cheap-- I loved it, but it burned too much gas. Next car was a Pinto hatchback that got stuffed with friends and driven to every punk gig I could, that thing was great. I'm currently driving a 2003 PT Cruiser I've had since new, and I don't plan to get rid of it anytime soon. Though I might look into one of these here El Caminos...
posted by InfidelZombie at 3:16 PM on December 17, 2010


>the El Camino is coming back.

Now, where did I put that halter top?

Oh wait. Wrong car.

When is the Camaro coming back, again?
posted by cyndigo at 3:34 PM on December 17, 2010


Can anyone explain why the Ute is popular in Australia?

They're useful?

Ford Australia was the first company to produce a coupe utility.[1] This was the result of a 1932 letter from the wife of a farmer in Victoria, Australia asking for “a vehicle to go to church in on a Sunday and which can carry our pigs to market on Mondays”.[1] Ford designer Lew Bandt developed a suitable solution and the first coupe utility model was released in 1934.[1] Bandt went on to manage Ford’s Advanced Design Department, being responsible for the body engineering of the XP, XT, XW and XA series Ford Falcon utilities. General Motors’ Australian subsidiary Holden also produced a Chevrolet coupe utility in 1935 but the body style did not appear on the American market until the release of the 1957 Ford Ranchero.
posted by oneirodynia at 3:49 PM on December 17, 2010


Can anyone explain why the Ute is popular in Australia?

I don't know for certain, so I'm just theorizing here. My guess is it's basically nothing more than an image thing. Utes have a strong association with certain qualities that Australians claim to value: working with your hands, working outdoors, living in a country town, enjoying a cold beer, etc. These qualities have been compressed into a concept known as The Battler. The Battler is beset on all sides with adversity; the indifferent violence of nature; the greed of bankers; the studied malice of bureaucrats. But The Battler keeps on going. Car companies have managed to create a marketing iconography that strongly links the ute to the concept of The Battler. Like all the best marketing it never makes these links explicit, leaving you wondering things like "Why is that Scotch College kid driving that fuck-ugly car?"

But you know, Australians are weird in some ways. Don't get me started on how we've turned a violent psychopath into a folk-hero.
posted by Ritchie at 3:55 PM on December 17, 2010 [3 favorites]


When is the Camaro coming back, again?
posted by cyndigo at 3:34 PM on December 17


Ahem. I assume you haven't seen the new and awesome camaro?

It's way overpriced but it looks way cool.
posted by Vindaloo at 3:56 PM on December 17, 2010


I need something to replace my S10. In the US market, Ford is dropping the Ranger and Chevy is dropping the Colorado. The Toyota and Nissan entries have succumbed to US-style bloat. A Ute may fit my needs nicely.
posted by klarck at 4:15 PM on December 17, 2010


THIS is the best song song about this car.
posted by clarknova at 4:33 PM on December 17, 2010


Not gonna lie, I can totally see the appeal of a car/truck. That's pretty much what a compact pickup is, especially w/2wd and a four-cylinder.

Luckily for me, my '90s Toyota pickup will probably still be running when the world runs out of oil.
posted by box at 6:07 PM on December 17, 2010


I think what we non-Australians are getting at when we ask why Australians love utes is Why not drive a real pickup? and/or Why so ugly?
posted by Sys Rq at 6:55 PM on December 17, 2010


Why not drive a real pickup?

Because pick ups are what Americans drive.

I've spent twenty minutes staring at the post comment box trying to think of what else to add to that, and perusing Wikipedia and ute websites trying to figure out what the real differences between utes and pickups actually are, but I think that is the actual answer. Australians drive utes because that is what Australians do. We don't drive real pickups because that is what Americans do.

Our disdain for acting like Americans while spending 95% of our time acting like Americans is one of those things you may have to be Australian to understand.

Why so ugly?

In comparison to pick up trucks?
posted by PercyByssheShelley at 7:44 PM on December 17, 2010 [3 favorites]


Our disdain for acting like Americans while spending 95% of our time acting like Americans is one of those things you may have to be Australian to understand.

I know more about this than you could possibly imagine. (Canadian.)

>>Why so ugly?

>In comparison to pick up trucks?


Yes. Considerably moreso. (Which is saying something.)
posted by Sys Rq at 7:53 PM on December 17, 2010


This is, well, a song about a ute. And rooting in it.
posted by onya at 9:35 PM on December 17, 2010


In Western Australia we have a saying about the utes.

"Better have your skipper's ticket"


We sure do, Talez. We sure do. And part of the attraction is giving your boat a name while smashing a king brown over the bonnet.

Metafilter, meet Davo.

Yeah I know, not a Holden. For $500 and a maintenance free year of use, I'm rather happy about that.
posted by Ahab at 9:50 PM on December 17, 2010


As the current owner of a '79 Elky, I am obliged to respond in this thread.

I drive it daily at present, and it is the most reliable vehicle I own that doesn't have two wheels.

I like it because I don't wanna be in a huge/tall pickup truck, but yet I still need to collect stuff from the hardware store, often quite big stuff. I think the largest items I've carried are 16 foot 2x8's. The fact that it has a 350 under the huge runway-length hood is also a bonus, it's a joy to drive.

Yep, it's rusty, real rusty, and yeah, the door seals are a bit naff, and it leaks, and it's quite loud. But I love, I mean seriously love, this car/truck/cruck (insert bastardized noun here). I'm a short guy, and fits me well. Would love to see them come back :)

And good call Onya, I've always loved Kev, even being an ex-pat Kiwi :)
posted by Sportbilly at 10:24 PM on December 17, 2010


I think what we non-Australians are getting at when we ask why Australians love utes is Why not drive a real pickup? and/or Why so ugly?

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. As an Australia, when I see an American "real pickup", I see something that looks bulky, slow, too big for the road, square, ugly. Whereas an Australian Ute is just a sedan which the back chopped off and turned into an open tray. Which means they are as easy to drive as a sedan, and they go like the clappers. The average size of cars, in general, is smaller in Australia, so I can only assume the seppos are trying to compensate for something.
posted by Jimbob at 11:07 PM on December 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


No mention of the Chevy SSR truck/convertible/roadster? Introduced to the world by a commercial directed by Michael Bay, what could go wrong?

I hate pickups, but I actually like the El Camino, but then I'm usually the guy who's interested in the weirdest possible version of any transportation option. Recumbent tandem bicycle, check; Tri-hulled ferroconcrete catamaran, sure; Volvo Tandem, oh yeah; dirigible, may I have two?
posted by BrotherCaine at 11:29 PM on December 17, 2010


As an Australia, when I see an American "real pickup", I see something that looks bulky, slow, too big for the road, square, ugly. Whereas an Australian Ute is just a sedan which the back chopped off and turned into an open tray.

Amen. Pity Toyota have made their utes bigger and clumsier to appeal to the small-penis market in North America.
posted by rodgerd at 12:00 AM on December 18, 2010


I agree with Jimbomb, the size difference is actually quite big between say a Ford F150 and your average ute. To the point where a Ford F150 looks unsociable on the roads, like it's trying to kill you or the driver is compensating. Utes fit in with the regular car populace a bit better.

Also it's basically the perfect intersection of everything a tradie needs, which is basically the target market.
posted by Submiqent at 2:52 AM on December 18, 2010


Yeah I feel weird defending the Holden Ute, because within the context of Australia, they are a complete bogan-mobile. I wouldn't drive one (although I wouldn't mind, say, a Toyota Hilux). But compared to "pick-ups", they are a thing of beauty. Ford F-*s somehow manage to boil my blood. It's un-Australian, I tells ya.
posted by Jimbob at 4:24 AM on December 18, 2010


I tend to be two-wheeled most of the time, but I would definitely consider trading in my Wrangler for one of these. Car-like ride, but a low bed I can get the motorbikes into if I need to haul one to the shop?

Sign me up.

Besides, knowing Austin, those things would be huge here.
posted by Thistledown at 6:27 AM on December 18, 2010


Our disdain for acting like Americans while spending 95% of our time acting like Americans is one of those things you may have to be Australian to understand. --- Nah. I think everyone understands the concept of self-loathing, even if they don't necessarily participate.
posted by crunchland at 7:00 AM on December 18, 2010


I thought the future was going to be all public transit and bicycles. Did I miss a recent Mad Max sequel or something?
posted by sneebler at 9:56 AM on December 18, 2010


I thought the future was going to be all public transit and bicycles.

I'm with you, man, but they kicked me off the bus last time I tried to take half a ton of cement and a cement mixer on with me, and I just don't have the leg muscles to handle that sort of load on a bike anymore...
posted by Jimbob at 2:11 PM on December 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


That's too bad. Where I live, they will actually deliver the cement to your house in a special truck.
posted by sneebler at 7:52 AM on December 19, 2010


I can't imagine someone delivering a half ton of concrete in a mixer truck. Would be a tad expensive for the product concerned. I prefer to mix my own, at my leisure, as it were.
posted by Sportbilly at 1:06 PM on December 19, 2010


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