Poncho Pickup: 1974 Pontiac Grand Camino

Sometimes, when you want something, in particular, you just have to make it yourself. GM was, and is, notorious for offering variations of the same body across multiple divisions. The Cadillac Cimarron disaster comes to mind. However, the El Camino was traditionally just offered by Chevrolet and as the Caballero by GMC. Pontiac flirted with the idea occasionally but never brought a Poncho version into production. This didn’t stop a very talented individual from creating a Pontiac version of this popular car-based pickup. Take a look at this 1974 Pontiac Grand Am and 1977 Chevrolet El Camino hybrid that’s being sold here on craigslist in Gasport, New York. Would you pay the $15,500 asking price for this Poncho Pickup?

Pontiac was obviously interested in their own version of the El Camino. Engineers built a Catalina based prototype in 1960 called the El Catalina. This beautiful truck used a number of Pontiac pieces for the conversion instead of just badge engineering the whole deal. In this article by Hemmings, we are told that Pontiac brass ultimately nixed the idea. They thought there was a limited market for such a vehicle. It would have likely just taken sales from the El Camino, so the idea was shelved. Two prototypes were built and one survived to be restored.

There were also rumors that in 1974, Pontiac made a Grand Am based El Camino prototype just like the one in these pictures. Complete with a Grand Am pieces in the interior, this project also was shelved. Trying again with a version of the fifth generation El Camino, various rumors have factory mockups popping up with the Le Mans and Grand Prix front ends grafted on.  I have personally seen one with a Le Mans front end and interior pieces in the back row of a big used car lot.  Chances are it was just a body shop creation like this beauty, but the execution was flawless.  The last gasp of these was a show car built on the Pontiac G8 platform.  It was basically a Holden Ute from Australia that GM was thinking of offering in the United States.  This effort failed to reach production as well.

The one we see here was created from a 1974 Pontiac Grand Am front end and a 1977 El Camino cab and bed.  Whoever built it must have learned of the 1974 prototype and how it was built up.  The Grand Am front end looks made for the El Camino body.  In fact, it looks to be a more beautiful design than the El Camino.  With glossy black paint and a set of Pontiac honeycomb wheels, it is as if this was the Bandit’s weekend truck.

According to the seller, the interior is made up of Pontiac pieces.  The center console and floor shift looks great with the bucket seats and gives the interior a sporty feel.  The woodgrain dash and leather covered steering wheel also make this truck look like it rolled off the Pontiac assembly line.  The faded door panels look out of place on such a well finished truck. I suspect that the switches in front of the cell phone in the console are for power windows. However, there is no plastic plug over the driver’s side panel crank hole. The panels also need to be refurbished to match the high-end look of the rest of the interior.

The conversion wasn’t limited to just cosmetic pieces.  Under the hood rests a Pontiac 400 cubic inch V-8.  Previously rebuilt, this engine has only been driven around 2,500 miles.  We, unfortunately, have no information as to any modifications done to make more horsepower. Despite this, a Pontiac 400 should move this truck down the road with some authority. Overall, it is a cool design exercise that would surely draw a crowd at a car show.  It is a shame that Pontiac never made their own version of the El Camino.  Pontiac’s reputation for building performance versions of GM’s multiple platforms may have given us something special.  With both Pontiac and the El Camino body style a distant memory, I guess we will never know. Would you be interested in a Pontiac based El Camino like this? Do you think it would have sold well?

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Comments

  1. Bakyrdhero Member

    What an awesome rig! I wonder if it wasn’t built because it would be more desirable than the Chevy?

    18
    • Nevadahalfrack Nevadahalfrack Member

      That’d be my guess-this looks MUCH better than an El Camino of the same vintage.

      18
      • Bakyrdhero Member

        Plus that Pontiac interior is a MUCH nicer place than the Chevy to spend time in.

        13
  2. NotSure

    I question calling the Cimarron a “disaster “. Undoubtedly there were a LOT of feelings hurt but “disaster” seems a little strong.

    This a a good looking Pontiac and love it with the back slanted grill and bird beak!

    4
  3. nycbjr Member

    15k? Prolly not tho it does appear to be decently well-done..I really like it!

    5
  4. TimM

    It does look well done and would definitely be a show stopper at the local car show!! It will be interesting to see what it brings!! Nice looking car!!!

    1
  5. Jeremy

    Looks well done. I dig the “Bandit”theme.Id convert to a 4 speed though.And how cool would T tops grafted in be?!maybe even swap on a shaker hood from a Can Am of same vintage

    3
  6. Rosko

    Pretty.

    1
  7. B-rad jeepster

    back in the late 70s I saw a cutlassmino which looked awesome. so I really like the Pontiac version complete with snow flake wheels

    3
  8. art

    Now, this is a nice conversion. Most conversions/customs shown on here resemble works conceived by Dr. Frankenstein, with a look only a mother could love.
    This example, on the other hand, was well executed and is very sleek. It is shows as a higher end, luxury looking El Camino.
    Even with the needed finishing touches, it would be very difficult to make another for $15k.

    3
  9. Tom Member

    Yes well done but man someone ran out of time, talent, money, inspiration or all of the above when it came to that sore thumb of a rear bumper!!!!!

    Now, I know that IS what came on the back of a 74 or 77 ANYTHING GM at that time but someone should have “Chip Foosed” that back bumper and at the VERY least blacked it out..

    I am a HUGE Pontiac Fan and like the El Caminos very much so I AM a FAN of this one. Nicely done.

    1
  10. ICEMAN from Winnipeg

    One could also put a 77 to 79 Thunderbird front end on an LTD 11 Ranchero.

    2
  11. DVSCAPRI

    What is an LTD 11 (Eleven)? Or did you mean LTD II? and they were still called Ranchero’s during those years, no where did it say LTD II on it.

  12. brian crowe

    I remember seeing a El Camino with a Laguna front end and I thought that was very nice looking.

  13. James Demestihas

    I remember almost buying a new 79 GMC Cabalerro in 1978….didnt bought a leftover 77 Mercury Capri II Ghia 2.8L https://bringatrailer.com/listing/1979-gmc-cabalerro/

  14. 86_Vette_Convertible

    That’s a good looking conversion IMO. Had GM put this together for sale, IMO it would have sold well to those Pontiac lovers along with those that wanted something for light hauling. It has a look and feel that was over the top IMO.

    Wish I had room for it.

    1
  15. Fred W

    This is one of those rare cases where desirability may trump price. One nice looking ride!

  16. Will Fox

    Correction: Pontiac’s attempt at an El Camino variant of their own was done in 1959; not 1960. There were two built, one of which has been fully restored & takes awards wherever it goes.
    A shame it never went any further for Pontiac. Either that or a `59 Buick would’ve made a stunning `Camino too. They could have carried over the “Cabollero” nameplate from the `58 wagon!

    2
  17. Tom

    I’m aware of three of these floating around…
    Can’t post pics, I guess that privilege is for “members” only now?

    1
  18. John

    I also feel the rear bumper screams Chevy, it would seem like the Pontiac station wagon rear bumper could be utilized and would make it look 100% Pontiac without too much trouble.

    2
  19. Glenn Schwass Member

    Not a real fan of that Pontiac front end but this was done so nicely. Should make a Pontiac fan real happy. I hope it goes to a good home.

    1
  20. Marko

    Well done ! I am a Pontiac Fanatic, and I love this Ute. Belongs right up there with the Ray Evernham Laguna S-3 Camino build, and the last gen Buick GNX conversion I saw on the internet a couple years ago. A Can-Am hood scoop would be cool too, but I really like this, and the price is worth it.

    1
  21. Comet

    I hope the creator of this Ponti-camino spent more time on the structural conversion than he did fitting the hood.

  22. Glen Riddle

    These conversions are cool, and the Pontiac 400 a plus. I wonder if it is titled as a Pontiac or a Chevy.

  23. wuzjeepnowsaab

    I can’t decide if I like it because I like it or I like it ’cause it looks freaking awesome with the Pontiac face on it. If there was a way to change out the back bumper it’d be off the chart cool

  24. Rabbit

    Odd that I now know of TWO of these, both in WNY. This one apparently lives just north of Lockport. The other was done at a shop in Amherst, about 25 years ago. I don’t believe they’re one & the same, as the other was a candy red.

    2
  25. Doug

    I have seen two mid 60’s El Caminos with 1965 Pontiac GTO front clips- a very easy job, as the GTO and Chevelle (which the 2nd gen El Camino was based on) shared the same chassis, and quite a few parts easily interchanged. I believe that one of them also used the GTO doors, but I could be mistaken. Wish I’d had a digital camera back then !

    1
  26. Steven

    “Snowflake” wheels, NOT “honeycombs”.

  27. Robert May

    I like this better than the 50’s conversion from a few weeks ago. This is a tasteful interpretation although the rear bumper is a little awkward. Good job though.

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