The El Camino has slimmed down in for the fifth generation and the “Classic “ is demoted to the entry trim level, then the Black Knight(1978 only), the Conquista, and the Super Sport as the top offer. The “Black Knight” takes the moniker of “Royal Knight” from ’79 to ’83. The V8 power in ’79 is available as a 305 cu in small block with a choice of the 150 hp or the 165 hp version but fuel conservation is the order of the day making the 90 degree V6 and the Buick V6 the basic power options.
The 1979 El Camino is slimmer but on the longer wheel base of 117 inches (2,972 mm)and now on its own unique platform dissimilar from any other Chevy product. However the sheet metal is Malibu sedan in front, Malibu wagon bumper and tailgate in the rear, with Monte Carlo doors. The basic engine offer is the 200 cu in (3.3 L) V6 developing 95 hp (71 kW) in most U.S, states but the base California engine is the Buick 231 cu in power plant. There are two V8 offers in ’78 – a 305 cu in with 145 hp (108 kW) and exclusive offer for the El Camino and the wagon is a 350 cu in with a four barrel developing 170 hp (130 kW). The transmission offers are a three speed automatic or the four speed standard.
Minimal changes for the 1979 El Camino on the outside with a different divided grill is the only noticeable change and, on the inside, any transmission you choose is now floor mounted. The newly developed V8 engine is a small block 267 cu in (4.4 L) with 125 hp (93 kW) as an alternate power choice for ’79 although the 350 with the four barrel is still offered for big power.
The new decade brings change for the 1980 El Camino and horse power ratings starting to rise on some of the engine offers with the basic new 229 cu in V6 is putting out 115 hp now while both the V8 engine offers took a slight drop in horse power . The transmission offer is a three speed standard as basic equipment but the optional three speed automatic was the biggest seller in 1980.
El Camino in 1981 has a newly designed horizontally oriented tubular grill and is the biggest exterior change. However the mandate for this year and the next few is to conserve fuel without reducing the power; with the first step to achieving this goal is to add GM’s “Computer Command Control” emissions system to all the El Camino engines. The horse power rating did take a modest drop on the base 229 and the California base 231 engines and the three speed automatic transmission now has a lock-up torque converter to increase highway mileage.
The rectangular quad headlights are mounted outside the crosshatch design grill from 1982 until the final ‘87 model El Camino. Also in ’82 Chevy introduces the higher priced 350 cu in (5.7 L) Diesel powered V8 which delivers 105 horse power; this expensive engine does conserve fuel but has frequent and frequently high repair bills.. The other engine options stayed the same although the base 229 engine is now sold in California as well.