I was driving into Los Angeles recently and within a half- mile stretch of Interstate 10 I passed an aged but nicely preserved Chevrolet El Camino and then a Dodge Magnum, the Hemi-powered wagon of much more recent vintage.
For some reason, the vehicles' images merged within my mind's eye and I thought it'd be cool to turn a Magnum into a modern-day El Camino.
Yes, I know I'm mixing manufacturer metaphors. We can't turn a Chrysler into a Chevrolet; though the Magnum's Hemi V-8 would give Chevy's small block a run for its money.
Speaking of modernizing the El Camino, I'd argue that such a vehicle would need four doors, not just two. After all, roughly 60 percent of all full-size pickup trucks sold in the U.S. have crew-cab passenger compartments. Why should people who want a car-based pickup be restricted to just two doors or to only two occupants? Why not a four-door vehicle with a bed in the back for those times when you need to cart a dirt bike or to bring home a big, new flat screen?
I know I cannot be the only one who thinks a car-based pickup remains a good and even marketable idea. After all, Aussies buy thousands of such "utes" each model year, and it's not unusual to see nicely preserved El Caminos on American highways because they are so cherished by their owners (and coveted by the rest of us).
Instead of building a modern El Camino from a coupe, why not a station wagon, which presumably already has more stout structure and suspension at its rear?
So, we start with a Magnum and:
- Fabricate a bulkhead behind the second row.
- Modify the backlight section of the rear lift gate to enclose the refined passenger compartment.
- Remove the rear roof section and D-pillars.
- Create inner linings and a floor for the pickup bed.
- Modify the bottom section of the lift gate so it becomes a pickup-style tailgate.
(If you're really talented or can afford it, you can create a long-bed version by extending the wagon's rear quarter panels.)
Voila! A four-door El Camino. Or in the case of the Dodge Magnum, let's call it a Dodge Maximum.
Of course, the Magnum isn't the only modern wagon we could consider ripe for such modification (and you can speculate on others in the comments below), though at the moment it seems the most logical since it was built with performance in mind, including an SRT8 version with 425 horsepower that could get you to 60 mph in just a tick more than five seconds and to more than 100 mph by the time you lit the lights at the end of a drag strip.
Another plus for the Magnum is that it no longer is in production, thus you don't have to pay new-car prices for something you're going to chop apart anyway.
Of course, if you want to buy something even hotter and are willing to fork over whatever figure your local dealership demands, there's always the square-back version of the 556-horsepower Cadillac CTS-V.