Despite the fact that he’s at least ten years away from driving one, six-year-old Rafael Barkan is crazy for cars. One car in particular — the Chevrolet El Camino — has caught his fancy, and he’s so dismayed at the fact that there isn’t a new one available, he’s taking it to a higher power: GM CEO Mary Barra, in the form of an online petition to start building Chevrolet’s car/truck hybrid again.
Chevrolet hasn’t built an El Camino in almost 30 years. The last G-Body El Caminos rolled off the assembly line in the 1987 model year. But Rafael still thinks they’re the coolest. “He first saw an El Camino at the Autry Museum’s Route 66 exhibit last summer,” says his dad Steve. “It was Chevy day and local club members brought their classics out to show. Rafael instantly fell in love with the El Camino, because ‘it’s a muscle car AND a truck.'”
Raphael and Steve live in Southern California, and they’re in a community where they don’t even have to rely on a car as daily transportation, and his dad confesses that he’s not that much of a car guy, either.”I actually only use a car on the weekend,” Steve says. “Rafael and I bike to school together every day, and that’s when he asks so many questions about car models and makes. Which gets better mileage? Which is faster? Which is more reliable? Is that an antique? I don’t know most of the answers.”
Rafael’s automotive obsession started the same way it did for a lot of us. “He started collecting Hot Wheels when we were flagged down by a gentleman named Harmon who owns a few Mustangs that Rafael sees and digs along our regular route. Because of Rafael’s enthusiasm for cars, Harmon gave him a Hot Wheel Mustang, and ended up giving him four more Mustangs.”
Ever since, Rafael has been spotting cars with the eyes of a seasoned automotive veteran. As you can see in the picture, for a while, he was into the Karmann Ghia, but recently, it’s been all El Caminos all the time. “We see them occasionally on the road, and Rafael asks me why they don’t make them anymore. I told him I didn’t know but perhaps not enough people were buying them. He said that we should make sure the company knew that people would buy them if they started making them again.”
Rafael wrote a letter to GM CEO Mary Barra and started collecting signatures. His dad also helped him put the letter in a petition form online. “He’s particularly proud that his Brazilian Ju-Jitsu coach Armando signed [the letter], because the founder of his style is Gracie Barra — same last name as Mary.”
If you’d like to sign Rafael’s petition to let Mary Barra know that there are some ready El Camino buyers in that crucially important 6-to-11 year old demographic, you can get on board at iPetitions.com.
Oh, and if Ms. Barra does decide that Rafael’s interest is enough to start production on the El Camino again, it’s gonna get costly for Steve. “I did commit to Rafael that I would buy one if they brought back the El Camino,” he says.