Special Coverage

New York Int’l Auto Show

NEW YORK – Chevy El Camino loyalists are roaming the halls at the New York International Auto Show here wearing badges encouraging General Motors Corp. to resurrect the beloved El Camino name for the new Pontiac G8 sport truck unveiled at the show for production next year as a ’10 model.

The 2-door, rear-wheel-drive car-based pickup doesn’t have an official name yet, and GM is inviting the public to have a say. Until April 15, consumers can visit Pontiac’s website and offer a suggestion.

To date, El Camino has a massive head start, thanks to skillful grassroots campaigning.

“I personally like the name,” GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz says when asked if “El Camino” has a chance. “It would have instant recognition. It’s a good name. It was always a good name.”

Still, Lutz recognizes the political incorrectness of assigning a storied Chevrolet nameplate to a Pontiac product.

“It might put the Chevrolet division at odds with the Pontiac division and cause a little internal grief,” he says.

Pontiac has never had a vehicle like the G8 sport truck, and it appears it will be Pontiac’s sole domain within the GM product portfolio.

Within GM, Lutz says the product-planning team considered a Chevy version, to be called El Camino. “But we decided ‘no,’ because you look at the Chevy showroom, and they are abundantly blessed with product. It’s more logical to have it as part of the G8 line.”

Besides, giving Chevy a version of an existing Pontiac product is old school, Lutz says. “We don’t want to do that. That’s sort of the old GM, where everybody gets everything, and we’re going to try to prevent that in the future.”

As for the prospects of a 4-door version of the G8 sport truck, Lutz seems doubtful, although GM unveiled a 4-door Denali XT car-based pickup concept at the Chicago auto show a month ago.

When asked about prospects for producing the Denali XT, Lutz says, “It’s feasible but not planned at this point.”

Lutz says the GM Holden Ltd. division in Australia, which assembles all versions of the G8 and led engineering, has capacity for 200,000 vehicles annually from the rear-wheel-drive architecture for sale worldwide.

tmurphy@wardsauto.com