454/4-Speed! 1973 Chevrolet El Camino SS

Is it possible that the fourth-generation Chevrolet El Camino (’73-’77) is the Rodney Dangerfield of Caminos? You know the one that gets no respect? Well, if that’s the case, this specific 1973 example is due a tip of the hat as a result of how it’s equipped. This unusually configured El Camino SS is located in Pahrump, Nevada and is available, here on Barn Finds Classifieds for $6,900.

Why no love for this generation? Could it be the expanded girth with its jutting 5 MPH jaw? The Clean Air Act loss of power? Or just the general styling? Hard to say but according to www.elcaminos.com, 71K copies saw the light of day for the ’73 model year an absolute one year, high watermark. But it’s the previous generation (’68-’72) that gets most of the market attention.

What did sell in ’73, and ’74 was a Camino equipped with a 454 CI V8 engine and a four-speed manual transmission – and that’s how this example is outfitted. The owner of a Chevrolet dealership where I worked those two years ordered up a small fleet of so-equipped El Caminos in the spring of both years because he knew they were popular – and they did sell by mid-summer. The owner of this example states that the 245 net HP engine, “Runs and drives will need to be trailered“. The engine in this example looks amazingly original and non-modified. The only thing noted is the lack of a drive belt for the A/C compressor.

The exterior, while appearing to be mostly solid, has done a turn or two in the box with the hot, southwestern sun. The paint has flaked off, and its exposed flanks are sunburned to the point of surface rust. It’s the same issue with the cargo bed though it still shows as solid, and is probably reflecting this Camino’s original blue shade. Beyond the surface corrosion, there is some rust-through percolating in both lower fender legs. The ramming-speed front bumper, used on both the Chevelle and El Camino, required a sizable plastic filler to “mind the gap” between the body and the bumper’s rear edge. Typically, this El Camino’s outboard front filler panels have disintegrated away.

Interestingly, this Chevy has a four-speed manual transmission, complete with a non-original T-handle equipped shifter, but no center console and a bench seat – not a common arrangement. The seat’s condition speaks for itself and the last-year-employed nylon loop carpet has faded to a dirty brown but the SS badges are still affixed to the still existing door panels. The instruments are a bit cloudy and the odometer reflects 4,800 miles but it’s an irrelevant measurement at this point. Also, note the tachometer, the red-line, which has faded to a white line, is 4,750 RPM – that’s how smog motors slow rolled in those days. Nevertheless, a 454 could still pull a stump or two.

Yes, it needs some work but this is a great find nevertheless. After ’74 there would be no more four-speed manual transmission offered (until a brief return in the fifth-generation ’78-’80 Camino) and the 454 engine got the bum’s rush from Chevy intermediates in March of ’75 – this example is bumping up against the beginning of the end. Methinks this ’73 El Camino is a great project base, what says you?

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Comments

  1. local_sheriff

    Personally I’ve never really understood what’s so bad about this gen Elkys or Colonnades in general. While they never were fire-breathers OOTB I presume the majority of BF readers will know a thing or two about how to boost a car’s performance…? The way I see it Colonnades are the very last GM cars that offer that traditional ‘American car’ look and feel before US auto manufacturers completely lost it (…and haven’t found since).

    ’73 is obviously a good choice if one wants the most OE- offered performance, it was also the only year one could opt for an SS wagon! IMHO the quad lamp setup found on the ’76-’77 ‘Classic’ suits this bodystyle even better

    Like 8
    • BONE

      The 73-77 are far more rugged than any other Elcamino , at least from 1964 and up. They have beefy frames and suspensions .

      Like 1
  2. Melton Mooney

    I had a buddy in high screwell owned a black/black ’73 SS454/4speed with ss cragars. It was a very nice looking car, and after a few mods was very strong on the street.

    Like 3
  3. ERIK

    I cannot see this era of El Camino and not think of Randall “Pink” Floyd’s El Camino in the movie “Dazed and Confused”

    Like 4
    • DON

      How about a “my name is Earl ” clone !

      Like 8
  4. Gary Rhodes

    Front bumper-pull it back to the grill with fabricated brackets) lower it, get rid of the emblems locks,etc, detail the engine/bay in red, a new red interior, black paint and black five spokes.

  5. chrlsful

    nota chebby guy but this 3rd gen ’72/7 (made near me in Framingham) I really like. That big grill. Smooth the frnt bumper some how tho.
    Lub this model chevelle (that’s all it is) as the back window’n bed curve (or is that #4? nope no such thing) 6 motors, 3 trannies and 4 or 5 models available (vert, coup, wagon, etc) back when wages matched products (U could own a house, order a car U liked, etc). All that gone now – thanks to 1% & corporate (they own em).

    Like 1

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