El Camino

An American in Utrecht
There are certain things you just don’t expect to see in the Netherlands — or Europe, in general — and big, old, American cars are one of those things. To be honest, I’m even a bit surprised when I see contemporary SUVs. With petrol/gas prices as high as they are here (I think someone recently mentioned it working out to $8 a gallon), you can imagine that more fuel-efficient cars are in high demand here.

So as we were out walking yesterday morning, enjoying the good weather and just wandering through some of the smaller side streets, I stopped dead in my tracks when I saw this El Camino. An El Camino! In Utrecht! Growing up in the 1970s, I do remember these cars; I think some neighbors that lived on Harrington Street had one. (I had to Google that street name, and in the process just spent a ton of time revisiting the old neighborhood using Google Street View.) So yeah, a real-life El Camino in the historic city center of Utrecht. I think this may even be a third-generation version, which could well have been built the year I was born.
El Camino
An Unexpected Sight
The funny thing is that I hated these cars back in the day. I thought they were ugly and kind of redneckish. Now, I don’t seem to mind them as much; they’re retro/classic cars now! It’s amazing what a bit of nostalgia and a few thousand miles can make a person overlook.
One of These Things Does Not Belong

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16 thoughts on “El Camino

    • Yikes! Even worse than I realized! Just as well that we never use our car!

      I was curious about the plates, since they’re shaped more like the US style than the European style. I wondered if the color had any significance, as well.

  1. Wow, my dad had an El Camino back in the day! I always find it weird to see American cars, too. I remember once almost being run over by a Dodge Ram driving a bit too fast next to Dam Square. I guess it’s a status symbol of sorts.

    • I’ve seen one or two other big, old American cars here, including one of the huge, wood-paneled station wagons. It’s funny to think that something I wouldn’t have looked at twice in the US makes me stop and stare now!

    • The first day I arrived here in NL, as we were driving from Schipol to Utrecht, we passed a car dealership with a huge pink Hummer on the roof. Amazingly, that was not the last Hummer I saw here.

  2. A lot of those cars are leftovers from military troops stationed there back in the day. Back in the ’80s when I was up at Bergen-Hohne, the sight of a Mustang nearly made me cry from homesickness.

    Turns out that is my oldest child’s dream car. Yup, I raised a redneck.

    • Oh, I didn’t even think about some of them being leftovers from the military. That does make sense!

      I do believe the El Camino counts as a muscle car these days, so that makes them kind of cool. But they do still have the mullet association: Business on one end, party on the other. ;) That said, even I like the ones from 1972 and earlier. It’s the later ones that got a bit uglier. I never thought I’d find myself differentiating over types of El Caminos!

  3. I always find it so weird when I see the big cars from America too! Especially when I see people with big half ton trucks and stuff. It just seems so out of place!

    Now I’m going to have EL CAMINOOOOO in my head all day, a la Brad Pitt!

    • Oh yeah, I’ve seen one half-ton truck since moving here and that definitely made me do a double take! I’ve seen more military tanks on the highway here than big pick-up trucks like that!

  4. Yeah, I’ve seen quite a few of (old) American cars. Usually it’s the sheer size alone why I spot them, they look like giants compared to the regular small cars!

    And yeah, you don’t have to pay taxes for your car when it’s over 25yrs old. Then again, they’re usually more the gas guzzling kind and combined with the current gas prices…

    • The size really does stand out! I think the size was even starting to surprise me by the last few years I lived in the US, despite owning an SUV at the time.

      I was surprised, at first, that there was a limit on the taxes for older cars, but as you point out, I guess they pay in the long run when you consider how much gas they use! Now if you could get one of these old cars and convert them to bio-fuel or something … Well, you’d still have to park the thing! :)

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