350 Powered Custom 1959 Chevrolet El Camino

Well, this will be an interesting juxtaposition. A week ago, we covered this ’59 El Camino 4X4 with its rather obvious supercharger poking up through the hood. There was a readership debate regarding the purity of originality vs. the fun and hot-rod spirit of just going for it and doing whatever suits one’s fancy. I’m no purist, it’s your car, do what you want and I can appreciate both sides of the debate. And with that in mind, here you go, a considerably less modified 1959 El Camino, that looks mostly, though not completely, as Chevrolet intended. It is located in Upland, California and available, here on eBay for a current bid of $9,650, reserve not yet met.

While not as obtuse as the 4X4, blown example, this Camino has a trick or two up its sleeve. First up, it has been slammed with drop spindles and mostly dechromed though the seller has all of the trim except the tailgate top piece which is probably one of the harder pieces to source since it’s Camino specific. It’s advertised as having a one-piece “California” front bumper and that appears to be the case as all of the other images that I could scrounge of ’59 Caminos show them with a two-piece unit, bolted together in the middle. The seller adds that it has “a few rust patches” in place and based on the underside images, it looks like CalDot may be minus a few road signs. The inside area of the patchwork, however, looks considerably better finished off than the underside. The frame and cargo bed checkout and that unmistakable ’59 Chevy grille appears to be unblemished.

Obviously, there’s no supercharger in sight bu, under the hood, there is a Chevrolet 350 CI V8 of unknown origin. Though connected to a Turbo-Hydramatic 350 automatic transmission, this El Camino is a non-runner. The intake manifold, and what’s probably an Edelbrock or Holley carburetor positioned under an open-element air cleaner, give a hint to this Chevy’s sporting intentions but it’s tough to make any other prognostication. Nice to see is the dual compartment master cylinder which helps to put the clamp on the front disc brakes.

Inside, well, additional effort required. The dash and instrument panel are mostly intact though it looks like the windshield wiper switch is missing and you gotta’ wonder about gear selection as no lever is apparent. The distinctive ’59 Chevy steering wheel is still distinctive but for all of the wrong reasons, the door panels are MIA, and the seat looks like it came out of a sarcophagus, but other than that… Actually, it’s a pretty good blank slate for finishing off as originally intended or with the new owner’s selection of modifications in mind. The lack of carpet reveals sound floor pans.

So there you have it, still modified but not quite as radical as last week’s post. As with many similar vehicles, you have to hope that the included pile-o-parts has everything that a new owner would hope to find, especially considering that so much of a ’59 Camino’s trim is not shared with the station wagon or sedan. But if you’re going for a hot-rod full press, maybe it doesn’t matter. Please take a good look at the 4X4 version and then vote, what’s your preference, mild or wild?

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Comments

  1. bobhess bobhess Member

    Take it just like it is mechanically and take care of the surface rust, paint it, and put an interior in it and you have a driveable street cruiser that will impress the minions at the weekend car gatherings. Pretty outrageous but these are slick old birds.

    Like 8
  2. Rex Kahrs Member

    I keep the cars original for one simple reason: I would never presume that I could improve on the life’s work of such automotive luminaries as Harley Earl, Bill Mitchell, Larry Shinoda, Virgil Exner, Elwood Engel, and Dick Teague et. al.
    Those guys knew what they were doing, don’t mess with it.

    You want proof?? Listen to Madonna’s version of “American Pie”.

    Like 17
  3. Steve R

    If interested, I’d be done before bidding reached its current level. It’s a roller that needs everything, with mismatched engine components that’s had some upgrades to the brakes and suspension, but has been lowered a little too much. It’s got potential for sure, but only to someone who’s dying for a 59 El Camino. For anyone looking for a classic car, but isn’t married to a specific make or model, there are better deals out there for those willing to put in the work.

    Steve R

    Like 10
  4. Howard A Member

    I believe this will easily win out, it’s just so much more user friendly, or could be. I think just the top portion of the tailgate is El Camino specific, it uses the wagon lower part. Not unobtainium, but a quick check shows aftermarket vendors are ready to gouge the behoozes out of you for one. I say, have a nice day, fellas, I’ve seen El Caminos with tailgates eliminated, looks plenty sharp, and since it makes a poor truck, why need one at all?
    Again, El Caminos went unnoticed for years, especially these early ones, if any. I never remember seeing these, they were poor sellers. Most just bought a regular pickup for a lot less.
    Now, the only thing we can hope for, is it doesn’t turn into a blown 4×4.

    Like 14
  5. Morley

    obtuse ???????

  6. Mike M

    This is how a ‘59 El Camino should look, not the abomination that was featured last week.
    This will be a nice car when finished.

    Like 1
  7. Morley

    No, this is how an Elcamino should look

    Like 8
    • Keith Harden

      Looks like DD Speedshoop got ahold of it. Just sayin.

  8. Morley

    THIS how an Elcamino should look

    Like 8
  9. Lowell Peterson

    I agree! They are all awesome to the guy that owns them! They are not valuable collector cars! Still in supply and value range that they can be personalized without considering the downstream ‘investment’ value? At the end of the day this old car thing is…..A HOBBY!

    Like 4
  10. Rex Kahrs Member

    This is how…..

    Like 9
    • Howard A Member

      Bingo! No offense to Morley, it’s a sharp truck, but has limited use, we all don’t drive on 1/4 mile dragstrips, you know. Most of our time, in most locations, is sitting in traffic with the a/c on. The kiss of death for a vehicle like yours. Besides, give me an old “stovebolt 6” and a “slushglide in a truck like this, and I’d be mighty happy.

      • Morley

        Howard, I understand what you are saying and no offence taken,
        I bought my Elcamino in 1978 and rebuilt it in 1981. It was a nice California car, 348, tri power, four speed tinted windows all around and electric windows including the vents.
        In the winter of 1980/81 I took the car apart, built the 427 with a Dyers blower set up, Richmond 5 speed, not an overdrive trans, installed a 9 inch Ford to the stock suspension, installled a big Chevelle sway bar , did the body work and paint–Candy Apple Red– and built many one off pieces , because there was not much available to buy off the shelf.
        One of the things I built was the rad. !970 Cadillac 5 row header tanks and a two and three row rad from a 70 Chevelle , added a 5 blade mechanical fan as close to the rad as possible–no more than an inch from the rad. This is when having a blower car at the Street Machine Nationals was all the rage and yes they all came on trailers and boiled over. But not mine. I could not afford a trailer . And the first thing you notice at these big events , it will be stop and go traffic just to get into the fairgrounds. But I had no trouble with this set up, and really enjoyed cruising the fairground .
        I live in Canada, about 2 hours north of Buffalo, and I have driven this Car to the big shows inChicago, Syracuse, Indanopolis, Missouri and many places in Ontario Canada Hot Rod featured this car in 1983 . The car was driven in a rain storm for so long the filters collapsed in the scoop, removed them and carried on. It has been a nice comfortable driving car. Yes it is a 59 Chev, handling characteristics of a canoe, but when I go thru a pothole the car doesnt fall apart or have a wheel fall off. Best ET has been very high 12s at 117 –it is long legged and heavy..about 4700 lbs.
        But here is the thing, of all the thousands of miles the car has been driven, the best trip was returning from a Super Chevy meet in Kalamazoo, Michigan,,seven hours from home and as i drove up the freeway at about 80 miles an hour with the blower belt singing away I passed a steady line of cars on trailers and I know I was having more fun than they where. Way more.
        I am down to three cars in my collection My 63 Lesabre 401,factory dual quads and a factory four speed , a 65 Ford Custom 2 door post . 427. 2 fours and a four speed and my ElCamino. I have only had 3 new cars, and that was back in the seventies and they where all highperformance four speed cars You must remember I grew up at a time when driving was an experience to be enjoyed. You became part of the car. To day you become part of a computor.
        Howard I appreciate you input and thank you for allowing me time to have my say. Morley

        Like 3
  11. Rj

    All the Deaks come a run’n mouths a blazen.

  12. CaCarDude

    The ’59 and ’60 share a lot of the same parts, the 8 piece bed trim is same on both, and yes the top tailgate trim is El Camino only. Not difficult to locate if you know the right people, also having had a couple of these over the years I still have a good amount of small parts in my shop including wiper switch’s, several factory radio’s and more.
    If I were 20 years younger I would be in the market for another one to spend some time and money on. Done right these first gen. el Caminos are fun and a real head turner.

    Like 2
  13. Sam61

    Don’t forget the sunscreen. Those of us with receding hairlines will get sunburnt driving this one.

  14. bobhess bobhess Member

    Love all the counterpoints! Agree there are cars that should be restored to original and cars that just beg to be modified to increase the fun level. One question…. did any of you folks think a rig like the ’59 or ’70 El Camino that’s in California would not be modified in some form by now?

  15. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    Auction ended at $11,550, Reserve Not Met.

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