The GMC Sprint is a coupe utility that was produced by the GMC division of General Motors for the 1971–1977 model years. The rear-wheel-drive car based pickups were sold by GMC Truck dealers mainly in the United States and Canada. The Sprint/Caballero is GMC's version of the Chevrolet El Camino. Trim designations, emblems, and wheel trim differentiate the GMC from the Chevrolet. It was renamed to "Caballero" in 1978.
First generation (1971–1972)
In 1971, GM began producing the GMC Sprint, their version of the Chevrolet El Camino. This light-duty pickup truck was identical to the El Camino except for nameplates, and the chassis for both cars was based on the Chevrolet Chevelle station wagon/4-door sedan wheelbase. Sprint's first year was also the first year for mandated lower-octane unleaded fuel which necessitated a reduction in engine compression, and GM's A.I.R. system, a "smog pump", was added to control tailpipe emissions. Power and performance suffered. 1972 was the last year for the third generation El Camino, resulting in a two year generation for Sprint. For 1972 little changed but still lower power outputs. Engine offerings for 1971–72 included the 250 cubic-inch OHV inline Six, small block V8s of 307 and 350 cubic inches; and big block V8s of 402 and 454 cubic-inch displacements. Horsepower ratings of those engines for 1971 ranged from 145 for the six to 365 for the 454—all in gross figures. For 1972, horsepower measurements were switched to the "net" figures as installed in a vehicle with all accessories and emission controllers hooked up—this change brought the horsepower ratings for 1972 down to a range from 110 horsepower (82 kW) for the six to 270 for the 454 V8. The Sprint shared exterior and interior trims with the Chevelle Malibu and El Camino including cloth and vinyl or all-vinyl bench seats and deep twist carpeting. All-vinyl Strato bucket seats and center console were optional.
In both 1971 and 72, both the El Camino and Sprint shared the same body styling as the Chevelle from the cowl to front bumper. The 1971 models featured the Chevelle's twin parking light lenses, dual "high intensity" headlights and horizontally-divided front grille. A large "GMC" badge replaced the Chevy bowtie and for models with optional engines, engine badges (depicting cubic inch size) that were identical to Chevrolet, were placed just below the divider bar on the left side of the grille. Both years featured rear end styling taken from the Chevelle station wagon (and were shared with El Camino).
For 1972, the Sprint got the updated Chevelle front end styling and retained the "GMC" and optional engine badges where they were in 1971.
The Sprint has the same design, features and equipment as the El Camino with some renamed. It was offered as "Standard" or "Custom". The inline six was only available on the "Standard". Like the Chevelle and El Camino, the GMC Sprint could be ordered with standard 3-speed Synchro-Mesh manual transmission or the optional four-speed Synchro-Mesh manual or Turbo Hydra-Matic three-speed automatic transmission. Luxury options such as air conditioning, cruise control, power windows and locks, were also available at extra cost.
The SP package, only offered on the Sprint "Custom", was GMC's own equivalent of the Chevrolet SS package. It included the same two fat hood stripes and 454 as the Chevrolet. The Sprint "SP" was an option package rather than a distinct model.
Second generation (1973–1977)
For 1973, the El Camino was redesigned, and matched the Chevelle line. So of course GMC followed suit. It was the largest El Camino or Sprint generation, but thanks to lighter construction, it weighed less than the previous generation. Engine offerings during this period included a 250 cubic-inch inline six and a variety of V8s including the 305, 350 and 400 cubic-inch versions of the Chevy small-block V8, and the 454 Turbo-Jet big block to 1975. GMC continued the "Standard" or "Custom" Sprint. The inline six was still only available on the "Standard". Catalytic converters were added to all engines beginning with the 1975 model. Other than annual grill revisions and quad stacked, rectangular headlights in 1976, it was relatively unchanged through 1977, when the Sprint nameplate was replaced with Caballero for 1978.
The Chevelle SS was dropped after 1973, but the El Camino was one of the few Chevrolet models to retain an "SS", so GMC kept the SP package, still only offered on the Sprint "Custom". was GMC's own equivalent of the Chevrolet SS package. It no longer included the two fat hood stripes, and the 454 Turbo-Jet big block V8 was discontinued after 1975.