Boasting V-8 power, automatic transmission, two-tone paint, and deluxe interior, the 1955 Chevrolet Cameo shortened the distance between car and truck. Although not a big seller, it set the stage for other stylish trucks - Ford's Styleside, Dodge's Sweptside, and Chevy's own Fleetside quickly followed suit.
GM Stylist Chuck Jordan (later to become Vice-President of Design) had originally envisioned a one-piece cab-bed bodied pickup, but engineers were concerned over the sheetmetal distorting due to torsional stress on the frame. It was decided that the clean look could still be achieved with a conventional cab/bed combination. Fiberglass panels were added to Chevy's existing steel cargo-box, saving the expense of the tooling process required for steel panels. This also allowed the truck to be brought into production quicker. Besides, fiberglass was convenient; Chevrolet had recently given Molded Fiberglass Products Company a $4 million dollar contract to manufacture Corvette bodies.
The tailgate of the Cameo also used a fiberglass outer panel, with latches mounted inside and supported by retractable cables. The middle of the rear bumper hinged downward, accessing the hidden spare tire compartment. Unique chrome-plated taillights capped off the clean, uncluttered bed.
1955 Chevy CameoThe smooth-sided bed of the 3124 series Cameo seemed to perfectly compliment Chevy's new Task Force Series line of trucks. It's 114-inch wheelbase carried a 6.5-foot-long cargo bed, which shared the same 5,000 pound G.V.W. as the 3100 and 3200 series half-ton trucks. Base motor was the durable 235-cid six-cylinder, with Chevy's new 265-cid V-8 optional. Five transmissions, including an automatic, were available. Chrome bumpers, chrome grille, and full wheel covers, optional on other models, were standard on the Cameo.
All first-year Cameos were painted two-tone white and red. Inside, the upholstery was also two-tone, and came with arm rests, dual sun-visors, a cigarette lighter, chrome interior door knobs, and a large wrap-around rear window. Priced 30% higher than their standard half-ton truck, Chevrolet sold 5,220 Cameos in 1955.
1955 GMC Suburban Carrier PickupIntended as a promotional model to attract customers into showrooms, GMC offered their own version of the Cameo, called the Suburban Carrier. A different grille and front bumper were the main exterior differences. Under the hood, GMC's 248-cid, 125-horsepower six-cylinder was standard, with optional V-8 power coming from Pontiac's 155-horsepower 287 cubic-inch V-8. The single-season production run of about 300 units makes the GMC Suburban Carrier a rare truck indeed.
1956 Chevy CameoWith the exception of a few minor trim items, 1956 Chevrolet trucks remained the same as 1955 models. Despite low production numbers, the Cameo was carried over, now offered in several two-tone paint schemes. Base price was $2,150, while a standard half-ton pickup listed at $1,670. Cameo truck production for 1956 was 1,452.
1957 Chevy CameoAlong with Chevy's other pickup models, the Cameo received a new grille in 1957. V-8 engine displacement increased to 283 cubic-inches, with power output at 185-horsepower. Cameo production rose to 2,244 units.
1958 Cameo CarrierIndustry-wide adoption of quad headlights, along with a larger front grille, were highlights of the 1958 re-design for all Chevrolet trucks. Ford's Styleside pickup, introduced in 1957, had smooth outer bed-walls and sold for much less than the Cameo. Chevrolet countered with their new Fleetside, with an all-steel cargo-box larger than the Cameo's. With just 1,405 produced for the year, Cameo production stopped in early 1958.
In 1989, Chevrolet offered a Cameo package for their S-10 pickup series, which included sport suspension, 15x7 rally wheels, driving lights, and Cameo decals. A ground-effects kit included a rear roll pan and front and rear molded bumper covers. Available in either red, white, or black, the S-10 Cameo option was offered for three years.