1957 Cameo Truck
For a short while after World War II, Chevrolet pickups carried precedence over the company’s cars. Demand put them into production first, and they actually received a handsome redesign two years ahead of the passenger cars.
Less than a decade later, though, that redesign started getting a bit stale. Other pickup manufacturers started to introduce models that reached for a broader market. Ford revamped its pickup line twice during this period; Dodge offered two-tone paint treatments on its Spring Specials; and Jeep and Studebaker introduced pickup bodies that eliminated outside running boards.
At the time, Chuck Jordan-who later rose to prominence as head of Chevrolet styling-had just finished a stint in the U.S. Air Force. He returned to his job in the GM design studios and spent his free time sketching pickup concepts inspired by the guided missile carriers he saw while stationed at what is now Cape Canaveral.
It’s difficult to ascertain how closely Chevrolet executives watched the developments from the other manufacturers, but when Jordan submitted a group of designs to his boss, who in turn pitched the ideas to Ed Cole and other Chevrolet executives, few objections rose.
Jordan’s designs looked not only at the elimination of exterior running boards-already part of the 1955 pickup’s design program-but also at merging the back of the cab and the front of the bed by extending the bedsides out to the width of the cab. The only nix on the design came from Chevrolet engineers, who maintained that frame flex would wrinkle the expanse of sheetmetal. Plus, the unique bodystyle would require new tooling, which ran counter to Chevrolet’s plan to use the same basic cab for all light- and heavy-duty Chevrolet and GMC pickups and trucks.
So Jordan offered a compromise: The slab-sided bed would remain, but with a chrome-edged one-inch gap between cab and bed. Bowtie bean counters didn’t like the idea of an entirely new set of stampings for the bed either, so Chevrolet turned to Molded Fiber Glass of Ashtabula, Ohio-the same company that produced Corvette bodies-and asked for fiberglass panels that would attach to the existing narrow bed and tailgate, creating a whole new look for the truck with relatively little expense.