Truck: 2011 Chevrolet El Camino SS
High fuel prices reducing demand for big pickups, rising fuel economy targets, and last week's Supreme Court Ruling - that the U.S. federal government must use its authority to mandate the reduction of carbon dioxide from automotive exhaust - may be the sticks that prompt General Motors to reward El Camino enthusiasts with a juicy carrot by 2011.
Given Bob Lutz's recent comments to AutoWeek, we expect a reborn El Camino would use GM's new Zeta rear-wheel-drive platform, like the 2009 Chevrolet Camaro. The Zeta architecture was created for the North American and Australian markets, where GM subsidiary Holden sells popular car-based pickups called Utes.
Holden Utes come in several configurations and flavors. Buyers have a choice of two-door (Coupe) or four-door (Crewman) cabs with V6 or V8 motors, including a high performance 350-horsepower Super Sport version.
The new El Camino would likely offer several engine choices, including V8 and V6 gasoline engines and, potentially, a four or six cylinder diesel. All engines would be mated to a standard six speed transmission. An SS badged El Camino could highlight the lineup with a V8 pushing more than 400 ponies.
Styling cues may combine the Camaro's muscular fenders and flanks with the prominent new Chevrolet family front-end that's starting to appear on bow-tie branded cars and trucks, such as the 2007 Avalanche and 2008 Malibu.
Using flexible assembly lines, GM could build El Caminos and Camaros side-by-side with other future Zeta-based cars, like the Pontiac GTO. The benefit - lower manufacturing costs for GM and potentially cheaper alternatives to full size and midsize pickups that get better mileage, emit fewer greenhouse gases, and still offer decent open bed utility for commercial and casual buyers.