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Hooniverse Obscure Muscle Car Garage – The 1971-72 GMC Sprint SP

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Welcome back to the Hooniverse Obscure Muscle Car Garage, a regular feature which aims to expand the notion of what a muscle car is, and to think outside the box while doing so. This time I’ve uncovered a car based pickup that could be ordered with a Special Performance package, and that you could get with either a 350, 396, or a 454 Cu In V8. No, it’s not the Chevrolet El Camino SS, but it’s corporate cousin, the GMC Sprint SP.

1972 GMC Sprint-02-004

Chevrolet and GMC have long offered light duty pickups and vans with slightly different styling. However, after 1967, the GMC Truck Plant began building Chevrolet versions of the Medium and Heavy Duty models, so virtually all the trucks could be sold through two different dealer networks. The Chevrolet El Camino was an exception to this product sharing. But, when it came time to think about selling over one million trucks per year, the GM Managers wanted GMC to have a version of the El Camino for their very own. Such a vehicle would be an incremental sales booster for GMC dealers. By offering an attractive, personal pickup truck to coax those fleet owner-operators and managers that made up so much of GMC’s business to buy made a lot of sense to the product planners.

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By the fall of 1970, the new for 1971 GMC Sprint was introduced. Except for the nameplate, and some minor trim alterations, the GMC Sprint was virtually identical to the Chevy El Camino, and offered nearly the same options. This included their own SS Version, the Sprint SP. This package could be ordered with a 350 or 396 Cu In Displacement V8, or you could step up to the SP 454, with the LS5 version of the Chevy 454 V8, with 365HP and 465 Lb Ft of torque. The 454 came with the mandatory Turbohydramatic automatic, while you could still get the 4 Speed Stick with the 350 HP 396.

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For the 1972 model year, there were very minor changes, but the 1972 engine offerings were drastically different. You see, the horsepower ratings were changed to the more-realistic SAE net power ratings, as well as a further reduction in power because of the new emission controls coming on-line. To illustrate this point, the 350 Cu In V8, with a 4 bbl Carburetor produced 175 HP, while the 396 produced 240 HP. The LS5 454 was strangled with only 170 HP. This was the same with the Chevrolet Versions, and one has to wonder why anyone would order the 454 in the first place.

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These are rather rare trucks, as only 249 GMC Sprint SP’s were produced for the 1971 model year, and of that, only about 25 were the SP 454 versions. A very limited number got the optional cowl-induction hood. For the 1972 model year, SP production actually rose, to a whopping 749. Though the 1971 Sprints were priced within a few dollars of it’s El Camino cousin, in 1972 they were priced exactly the same.

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So there you have it, a featured truck for the Hooniverse Obscure Muscle Car Garage with a really obscure nameplate. What do you say, is this a Muscle Car (Truck, Half-breed), and does it belong on the garage, or is it just a pretender, a re-dressed El Camino that’s not all that obscure in the first place? Write, and tell me how much you love this feature!

Do you think the GMC Sprint SP Car/Truck Hybrid belongs within the Hooniverse Obscure Muscle Car Garage?

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Please Note: All Images are screen grabs from around the web. If you want credit for any image, please let me know in the comments section. Thank You!

Currently there are "36 comments" on this Article:

  1. Mr. Smee says:

    My wife says there is only one thing I could do that's unforgivable and will result in instant divorce – buy an El Camino (or Sprint).

  2. OA5599 says:

    It used to be that Chevy light trucks were sold at the same dealerships as Chevy cars. If you wanted a GMC light truck, you typically went to your local Pontiac dealer; they were the ones that usually had a GMC franchise.

    It would be interesting to see what the Sprint would look like if it was based on Lemans sheet metal instead of Malibu, and if it came with GTO engine options.

    • Superglider says:

      ya mean like this ? :-) http://www.chevelles.com/elcamino/ec_lemans.htm

      I have a whole collection of pictures "utes" from all over the world :-) Just wish we could still get them in the US, instead of having to travel to Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, Mexico, and South Africa to see some. Their performance, gas mileage, comfort, handling, styling are generally so much better than monster trucks… and I've probably hauled more in an ElCamino than most people have in their monster truck.

      and GMC trucks came about because the other GM dealers bitched because they didn't have a truck to sell… and GMC trucks used to be a little more deluxe than Chevys… but for the most part they're the same thing, with different badges today.

  3. danleym says:

    In these times of corporate contaction and car companies dropping nameplates like hot potatoes, I'm surprised GMC is still around. What do they offer that Chevy doesn't? They're all the same products. I never understood why they continue to exist. If they shut down GMC, I would assume 95% or more of their buyers would just buy the Chevy version- they stand to lose a lot less customers by shuttering GMC then they did when they closed down Pontiac.

    • OA5599 says:

      1. They offer a way for Buick and Cadillac dealers to sell trucks without having to have Chevy buyers bringing the place downscale.

      2. They offer the Denali trim level, which I'm sure is more profitable per unit than the highest-trim Chevy equivalent.

    • pj134 says:

      What part of the country are you from?

      • danleym says:

        All over, really. Grew up in Florida, currently live in Missouri, had a couple stops inbetween.

        • pj134 says:

          Up north we have this group of people that, even though they're from large metropolitan areas, need to live to some kind of NASCAR fan stereotype that they've created entirely for themselves. Normally they drive their fully decked out Silverado 1500 or 2500 crew cab short beds with a browning sticker in the rear windshield. GMC does pretty well for the people who want a GM truck but would rather avoid that stereotype.

          Also, Denali trucks are pretty friggin awesome.

          • MVEilenstein says:

            Also, the 2014 Denalis are far better looking than the new Silverados.

          • Vairship says:

            "GMC does pretty well for the people who want a GM truck but would rather avoid that stereotype"
            Except that 95% of people can't tell a GMC from a Chevy truck except for the badge itself (which you don't notice when it's driving past). But I guess people's decisions don't always make sense (says the unsafe-at-any-speed driver).

    • Mad_Science says:

      Part of the logic is that Chevy, by itself is a top-to-bottom, left-to-right, complete line (with the exception of really high end stuff).

      The rest of the GM brands are (or at least were) supposed to accomplish the same thing in aggregate. GMC is the truck piece of that puzzle.

    • TurboBrick says:

      GMC is never going away – same exact trucks as Chevy trucks except for some trim pieces and more importantly, couple of grand extra markup baked into the price. It would make more sense for them to discontinue Chevrolet branded cars in the US.

  4. muthalovin says:

    You know what's better than Black & Gold?

    <img src="http://hooniverse.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/rammy_2-001.jpg&quot; width=550>

  5. ˏ♂ˊ mzs zsm msz esq says:

    Wow, at first I thought the 170 was a typo!

    • dukeisduke says:

      I wonder what the torque figure was, though? I know that GM switched across-the-board to low compression for '71 (so that cars could run 91 octane low-lead fuel), but what changed from '71 to '72?

    • Stumack says:

      It is a typo – it should be 270.

      • ˏ♂ˊ mzs zsm msz esq says:

        I thought so too, but then Jim went on to call it out specifically, so now I am not sure at this point, gravitating more to the 270 personally.

  6. dukeisduke says:

    It's been a long time since I saw a Sprint. In the neighborhood where my mom lived, a guy on the next street over owned a black one. Just a 350, though. It is too bad they didn't use Pontiac V8s, and at least a different grille. GMC used Pontiac V8s and Hydra-Matics back in the '50s, and then switched to Chevy power.

  7. MVEilenstein says:

    It's absolutely a muscle car. Although I'm partial to El Caminos, a Sprint wouldn't hurt my feelings.

  8. Van_Sarockin says:

    Nice muscle truck.

  9. Shant Jaltorossian says:

    I have an inexplicable desire to make a "GMC" car using that front end and a Chevelle body.

  10. jake shaffer says:

    I have myself a 1972 gmc sprint fully restored and honestly looks better than every picture in this article. It is a great car and she runs great. If anybody says it is not a muscle car your crazy.

  11. Superglider says:

    I've owned 6 El Caminos (so far) and I sold Chevrolets in 71-72… and I'm tired of having to explain the horsepower thing. 71s got low compression, so they could run on unleaded gas, and in 72 everyone started using "net" horsepower ratings instead of "gross" horsepower ratings. Smog equipment did vary from one year to another during that period, based on which engine/transmission combination you got, or whether it was a California version or not. High performance engines and 4 speeds often got a smog pump, and automatics didn't, for example. I love it when people buy a 70 instead of a 71 because it has a higher horsepower rating… lol Good luck finding gas that you can use that doesn't ping… and those high compression heads and valves need LEAD to lubricate them. Hard to imagine anyone buys something from this era for the performance, when you can buy a V6 today that'll blow the doors of most ANY of them :-)

  12. Ali Raza says:

    I have a whole collection of pictures "utes" from all over the world :-) Just wish we could still get them in the US, instead of having to travel to Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, Mexico, and South Africa to see some. Their performance, gas mileage, comfort, handling, styling are generally so much better than monster trucks… and I've probably hauled more in an ElCamino than most people have in their monster truck.

    and GMC trucks came about because the other GM dealers bitched because they didn't have a truck to sell… and GMC trucks used to be a little more deluxe than Chevys… but for the most part they're the same thing, with different badges today.

  13. after 1967, the Gmc Truck Plant started building Chevrolet forms of the Medium and Heavy Duty demonstrates, so essentially all the trucks could be sold through two distinctive merchant systems.

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