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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!