The November/December 2018 issue of Vintage Truck magazine will be available in subscriber mailboxes and on newsstands soon. Our cover story about a 1970 Chevrolet El Camino SS 396 was written by Candace Brown, with photos by Brad Bowling and Phil Kunz.
Everyone in the old truck hobby dreams of being in the right place at the right time when the perfect vehicle comes up for sale. That was the case in 2016 when Jon Kocara found a gorgeous red 1970 El Camino at Mershon’s Classic Cars in Springfield, Ohio. It had been built at the GM assembly plant in Van Nuys, California, and traveled only about 60 miles to be sold through Connell Chevrolet in Costa Mesa.
Kocara loved not only the color and overall condition, but also the fact that it was in the Super Sport group—specifically an SS 396. The V-8 in this El Camino was rebuilt before Kocara bought it, but the vehicle itself still has only around 79,000 original miles.
“I’ve been into El Caminos all my life,” Kocara said. “My dad, John Kocara, introduced me to my first El Camino. It was a 1971 he bought new, and it was one of my dad’s favorite trucks. He loved that truck. That was the vehicle I got my driver’s license in.”
Kocara currently owns 14 vehicles, two of which are El Caminos (this 1970 and a super-rare 1974 SS 454), although he has had nine El Caminos during his lifetime. His appreciation for this half-car/half-truck utility coupe, with its comfortable cab up front and pickup box in back, is partly because of its significance to automotive history and partly to personal experience. His father, a superintendent with a construction company, wanted one for reasons that perfectly illustrate the concept behind the model’s design.
“He didn’t need a big, full-sized truck,” Kocara said. “He didn’t need a dump truck or a 3/4-ton 4-wheel-drive. He needed something to get to the job site. If he had to put some two-by-fours or a transit or a level or some small stuff in the back, he could do it. At lunchtime, if he had to go out with clients or meet with people, he could jump in his El Camino and go out, and it was like having a car. It served both purposes.”
In this niche market, Ford beat Chevrolet to the punch by two years, introducing the Ranchero in 1957 with high hopes. Even the company’s 1948 launch of the F-Series had not threatened Chevrolet’s post-war dominance of the marketplace, reinforced by their Advance Design line. In Ranchero advertising, Ford focused on farmers, ranchers, and anyone else who might appreciate a combination of workhorse and sporty transportation. Chevrolet would not offer a coupe utility until 1959.
To read more about our featured 1970 Chevrolet El Camino SS 396, pick up a copy of the November/December 2018 issue of Vintage Truck magazine!
Articles in this issue include:
Where the Trucks Are!: The 17th Annual Vintage Truck Magazine Vintage Truck Show sets another record for attendance. By Staff, Photos by Heather Bowling
The A Team: Dan and Sue Meyer like to share their favorite Fords with family and friends! By Candace Brown
Perfectly Practical: Jon Kocara’s dad would have loved this 1970 Chevrolet El Camino SS 396! By Candace Brown, Photos by Phil Kunz and Brad Bowling
Air Force L-110: Jeff Wood’s 1952 International is a pre-Travelall carry-all! By B. Mitchell Carlson, Photos by Tommy Kallgren
Dodge or Fargo?: The Bledsoe family’s 1974 Dodge W-100 is an optioned-out
black beauty! By Loren Hoekema, Photos by Eric Arnold
Chevy Talk: Half-Century K-10
Delivery Designs: Ford’s Ingenious 1961–1967 Econoline Vans
Photos from the Attic
Hey Loren!: Q&A
Aid for the Anxious Amateur: Drum Brake Replacement
Granny Gear: Of Windmills and Rock Roads