The History and Specifications of a 1977 El Caminoby Rob Wagner
Stricter federal safety and emissions, along with the 1973 oil crisis, put a stranglehold on performance cars, and the 1977 Chevrolet El Camino was no exception. The El Camino, which once boasted the mighty 454-cubic-inch V-8 engine, had only three engine options by 1977. Yet there were plenty of amenities to choose from to dress up the El Camino's interior and body.
El Camino Backstory
The 1977 El Camino was the last of the fourth-generation models that made their debuts in 1973. While the 1973 version received plenty of power options, including the 454 and 400 V-8s, El Camino limped into 1977 as a heavier car but with less horsepower to move it. Chevrolet placed the sport utility coupe on an A-body platform, shared by the Chevelle and the Malibu, and shared the same styling characteristics of the Chevelle. Chevrolet provided the El Camino with many of the same equipment options as the Chevelle and Monte Carlo. While the 1972 El Camino still had the power to haul 3,350 lbs. of vehicle, the 1977 models weighed in at nearly 3,700 lbs. thanks largely to a more rigid body structure and the addition of federal-mandated 5-mph bumpers. However, El Camino sales were strong with 54,321 units sold for the 1977 model year.
Three modest engine options were available for the 1977 El Camino. The 250-cubic-inch in-line six-cylinder with a single-barrel carburetor generated 105 horsepower and 195 foot-pounds of torque. The 130-horsepower 307 V-8 with a two-barrel carb or the four-barrel version for California El Caminos developed 220 foot-pounds of torque. The 175-horsepower 350 V-8 with a four-barrel carburetor generated 275 foot-pounds of torque. The 250 was an LD4 model produced from 1973 to 1978. The 307 LG8 model saw production only for the fourth-generation El Caminos. The 350 was the LS9 version produced from 1973 to 1986. Chevy sold 50,383 El Caminos equipped with V-8s and just 3,938 equipped with the 250 straight-six.
The El Camino received many of the same optional equipment available to the 1977 Chevelle and Monte Carlo. El Camino optional equipment included a six-way power seat, custom body moldings, color-keyed floor mats, cargo box side rails, sport suspension, variable ratio power steering, wheel covers with chrome trim, white-striped radials, dual horns, electric clock, chromed front bumper guards and an exterior décor package. Other optional equipment featured Firethorn-themed or Buckskin vinyl or cloth bench seat, a black cloth or vinyl bench seat, black-accented vinyl bench seat, blue knit cloth bench seat and a white or black tonneau cargo box cover.
The 1977 El Camino featured the same 116-inch wheelbase as the Chevelle. It had a 16-gallon fuel tank. The 1977 model was essentially a carry-over model from 1976, which made its debut with a new front grille with stacked quad headlamps. The 1977 models came with a standard three-speed manual transmission, but only 586, or 1 percent, of El Caminos had them. The rest of the 1977 models featured three-speed automatics. The Conquista trim level package accounted for 27,861, or 55 percent, of all El Caminos. The Bonanza trim package accounted for only 135 El Caminos, or less than 1 percent of all El Caminos produced in 1977.
Rob Wagner is a journalist with over 35 years experience reporting and editing for newspapers and magazines. His experience ranges from legal affairs reporting to covering the Middle East. He served stints as a newspaper and magazine editor in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Wagner attended California State University, Los Angeles, and has a degree in journalism.