Rare Pickup: 1958 Chevrolet Cameo Carrier

The Chevrolet Cameo Carrier could rightly be described as the “gentleman’s pickup.” The company took the basic concept from their existing Task Force range and sprinkled it with touches of glitter and luxury to make it more appealing as an all-rounder. That it sold in limited numbers during its three-year lifespan was undoubtedly a disappointment to the company, but the iconic El Camino emerged to fill the void left by the Cameo. Our feature vehicle is from that final year of production, making it the rarest of the rare. It presents well for a survivor, and it wouldn’t take a lot of time or money to lift it to the next level. The owner doesn’t seem that thrilled to part with the pickup, but it is a decision that he intends to stand by. If you want to be the next proud owner of a vehicle representing an interesting chapter in motoring history, you will find this 1958 Cameo located in Whiteland, Indiana, and listed for sale here on eBay. Spirited bidding has pushed the price to $19,850, but it is yet to hit the reserve.

The pages of automotive history books are littered with examples of manufacturers creating new models with little more than a few pennies and a large helping of imagination. That is the story of the Cameo. Chevrolet recognized that its existing Pickup range was viewed by the buying public as workhorses, with little consideration given to comfort, style, or refinement. It would eventually fall to the El Camino to provide the permanent answer, but the Cameo was the company’s stop-gap solution. It was based on their Task Force range of light pickups, but its styling was unlike anything within the existing range. Their offerings to that point had featured stepside beds, but the Cameo emerged with what was effectively a fleetside derivative. That is where the “few pennies” slip into the equation. Developing the stamping for a new bed would consume precious time and money, but the answer was right under their noses. Chevrolet had entrusted the production of early Corvette fiberglass bodies to Moulded Fiberglass of Ashtabula, Ohio. The solution with the Cameo was to collaborate with that company to develop unique fiberglass panels that could be fitted to the existing stepside bed, and voila! With the use of smoke and mirrors, the company miraculously created a new model for peanuts. Our feature Cameo is a complete classic, and its condition is impressive for a vehicle of this type and age. The panels wear an attractive combination of Indian Turquoise paint with an Arctic Beige side stripe. The paint has some chips and marks, but it remains pretty presentable if someone wants to retain it as a survivor. The panels are straight, but the big news is that this pickup appears to be rust-free. The usually-prone areas, like the cab corners, look clean, and the owner doesn’t mention any issues in the listing. Like the paint, the chrome and trim is presentable. I think that the passenger vent window might be cracked, but the remaining glass appears to be okay. One of the few things that I would be tempted to tackle in the short term is the bed timber. It is pretty tired and rotten, so investing that time and money into replacing it would be worth the effort. Otherwise, this gem has no immediate needs.

Chevrolet offered buyers a choice of engines in their 1958 Cameo, and the original owner of this one plumped for a 283ci V8 that produced 185hp and 275 ft/lbs of torque. That needs to find its way to the rear wheels, and it does so via a three-speed manual transmission. If buyers were feeling more affluent, they could also choose an overdrive, a four-speed, or a Powerglide if the fancy took them. The engine bay of this Cameo presents as impressively as the exterior, and it is about more than mere good looks. The owner says that the engine starts immediately, it doesn’t produce any smoke or odd noises and that this pickup tracks down the road straight and true.

The interior of this Cameo presents as well as the rest of the vehicle, and the buyer could use it as-is for years to come. The seat appears to wear a newer cover that is free from wear and physical damage. It looks like the owner may have treated the floor to a new mat at the same time because that is in excellent order. The door trims are warped on the edges, but I had no trouble locating a pair for under $150. The painted surfaces are surprisingly free from major issues for a vehicle of this type and age, and the owner has recently added new armrests, sunvisors, a day/night mirror, along with a speedometer head, bezel, and face. The radio functions but needs a speaker, while the heater could use a switch for the booster fan. Overall, it wouldn’t take much money or effort to lift the interior to a higher level, although none of the work is what I would class as essential.

Chevrolet had high hopes for the Cameo, but it remained in production for a mere three years. You only have to consider the sales volumes to understand why the company cut its losses. In 1956, Chevrolet sold 1,452 Cameos. For the following model year, things took an upward swing with a total of 2,244. For 1958, the poor Cameo struggles to reach 1,405. With that, the company pulled the pin. Waiting in the wings was the El Camino, and it succeeded where the Cameo had failed. As is often the case, the Cameo is a vehicle that was unloved when new but is keenly sought today. The low sale volumes mean that they don’t hit the market as often as other pickups, but as our feature vehicle proves, they cause a stir when they do. This one has already received twenty-five bids, and there’s plenty of time left on the listing. If it follows current market trends, I would expect that it will need to reach close to $30,000 before it surpasses the reserve. By the time the hammer falls, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the bidding hover close to $40,000. This auction could be worth watching closely.

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Comments

  1. bobhess bobhess Member

    Rare yes. Even more rare to find one in this condition. Beautiful truck.

    Like 13
  2. Fred W

    Always loved these and so far the price is great for the condition

    Like 6
  3. Dan

    I own a 58 Cameo and so many times people at the car shows ask “what is a Cameo?” They have never seen one. At one show an older gentleman stopped and asked it I knew where my Cameo was built. I said it was built in Los Angeles. He said he probably put the right hand side of the bed together as he worked at the assy plant back in the day. Nice truck advertised here.

    Like 16
    • Pleease.

      Would love to see a pic of your Cameo.

      Don’t think I ever heard of that model until today, but it’s very cool.

  4. Russ Ashley

    A nice truck that I would love to own. The 58 Cameo’s are the rarest ones as they were not made for a full model year, and were replaced but the Fleetside models. I don’t know how high the bidding might go but I won’t be surprised if it approaches $50K.

    Like 5
  5. Bob McK Member

    Really rare truck. Replacing the bed is a job, but well worth the effort and expense.

    Like 2
  6. Shawn

    A very nice truck that’ll go for a pretty penny at auction end. Quick question, what’s the Carrier part of the name mean? I’ve heard of and seen plenty of the Cameo trucks, but I’ve never heard of one called a Cameo Carrier. A quick Google search finds others called the same, but no explanation of the Carrier part. Was it a trim level or something?

    • Russ Ashley

      When these came out in1955 they were usually referred to as Cameo Carrier’s. The carrier part was because it was a truck and you could carry stuff I have always assumed. These were never meant to be used as a real work truck due to the fiberglass bed sides and other parts.

  7. greg

    Simply, I would like to have this truck, but my wife would want me to sell my others to have room for it. Really a nice driver.

  8. chrlsful

    all ways liked the tailgait view as that’s where the “car-like” came thru 4 me.
    This 1 the dead on frnt pic does not show the roof which may counter my statement w/”Most car like” perspective…
    Eather one U see an interesting vehicle. Paint scheme on these can make big changes in looks too~

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