1986 El Camino Engine Options

by Rob Wagner

The 1986 Chevrolet El Camino coupe utility vehicle was part of the 1978 to 1987 fifth generation series of El Caminos. The Chevy Chevelle had served as a template for the El Camino since 1964, but the Chevelle ceased production in 1977 and the El Camino retained the Malibu chassis and most of the Mailbu's mechanical components. The 1986 El Camino featured three engine choices: a 4.3-liter V-6, a 5-liter V-8 and a 5.7-liter V-8.


The El Camino's relationship with the Chevelle gave it access to some of the most powerful engines of the 1960s muscle-car era. In 1966, the El Camino received the massive 325-horsepower 396-cubic-inch V-8, although its Chevelle cousin got the 375-horsepower version. In 1970, the 360-horsepower 454 V-8 became part of the El Camino powerplant lineup. However, the most popular engine was the 300-horsepower 350 (5.7-liter). The oil crises of the 1970s and stricter federal emissions controls wreaked havoc on the automotive industry, and the late 1970s through the mid 1980s were a wasteland of mediocre engines. By the late 1980s, Detroit woke up from its slumber to develop more powerful, yet efficient V-6 and V-8 engines.

The V-6

By 1985, El Camino's days were numbered, as production shifted from the United States to Mexico. However, the base engine was the well-engineered 4.3-liter (262-cubic-inch) V-6. The 4.3-liter V-6 debuted in 1985 and became known in the industry as the "three-quarter 350" because General Motors patterned it after its venerable 350 V-8. The V-6 featured a 4-inch bore and a 3.480-inch stroke identical to the 350. The V-6 also shared the same valve components, main and cam bearings, and pistons. For the 1986 El Camino, the V-6 also got a one-piece rear main seal, just like the V-8s. The V-6 generated about 156 horsepower and 230 foot-pounds of torque.

The 5-liter V-8

The performance 5-liter (305-cubic-inch) V-8 was found in El Camino Super Sport models that featured the same "SS" packaging as the Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS models. The 305 had a 3.74-inch bore and 3.48-inch stroke to develop 190 horsepower and 239 foot-pounds of torque. The standard 305 for non-Super Sport models generated 150 horsepower.

5.7-Liter V-8

The 1986 El Camino was also equipped with a 5.7-liter (350-cubic-inch) V-8. The 350 had been the mainstay of Chevy passenger cars and trucks since its introduction in 1967 and had carried the same basic Chevy V-8 engine design since 1955. In fact, the 1986 version was not much different from the 350-powered 1973 El Camino that wielded 145 horsepower. The 1986 version generated 160 horsepower and 260 foot-pounds of torque. By 1986, most El Caminos came with the 4.3-liter V-6 or the optional 5-liter V-8. However, buyers could order through the dealer the 5.7-liter V-8 that generally powered Chevy's light-duty pickup trucks.

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