Clean Cali Pickup: 1971 Chevy El Camino

What is it about El Caminos? I feel like 9 times out of 10, they are used up and tired, often not worth restoring despite oozing with the cool factor. Maybe it’s because they doubled as both workhorses and hot rods, there was never a good chance they would survive in a preserved state. Well, this 1971 example here on eBay bucks that trend and is available with a $13,900 ask. 

While that may seem like a strong price, consider the following: it is said to sport 85% original paint and have only 40,000 original miles on its 350 V8. Accompanied by a Turbo 400 automatic transmission, this is an El Camino that will light up the tires just as easily as it will cruise slowly down the boulevard to Home Depot and the city dump. Although the engine bay isn’t clean, it does appear stock.

The interior is also in presentable condition for the age, with the seller calling it “perfect.” While it does look very good, perfection will be in the eye of the beholder. It’s clear this El Camino was not used for lots of outdoor activities, as even the dashboard remains uncracked, potentially indicating it was garaged when not in use. While the seller calls it a California car, the Chevy is currently located in Pennsylvania.

The paint isn’t perfect, but if it’s truly original, I could care less about the condition. The chrome looks quite nice, and although I wish it rode on stock wheels, these aftermarket rollers look pretty tight. Bidding is active, currently ticking above $7K with the reserve unmet; do you think the seller’s asking price is reasonable, especially considering how rarely clean El Caminos pop up?


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  1. Bob S

    Paint T’aint original, as the striker in the door Jamb is Green too. I’d love an El Camino with a 350 and Z-28 Rims.

    • Bingo

      Hey Bob:

      Remember that the seller said it was 85% original paint, not 84% or 86%. I love a listing like this.

      Sweet car, lame seller. YUK!

  2. SoCal Brian

    Had to sell my ’71 a couple of years back when the economy dumped. Numbers matching SS 454 4-spd. In great condition. I miss that car (truck?).

  3. JunkieTruck

    Way cool, I’ve had six of these through the years, hard to find in this condition, worth every penny.

  4. Chuck Cobb

    aren’t aftermarket rims, may be off a Camaro, but not aftermarket.

  5. Dan

    Wheels are 1970 up Z-28 wheels or 1971 and 1972 SS chevelle wheels…

  6. D

    Those wheels were stock on 71 and 72 SS El Camino and GMC Sprint SP models too

  7. Steve

    What Dan said above about the wheels. My first car was a 71 EC. 350 2 barrel/ TH350. Lemans blue. I put a set of 15″ wheels like this on mine. Not sure if they were chevelle/ ec ss wheels or later z28 wheels, but probably z28 wheels. I found them at the old Pate swap meet when it was in Cresson Tx. Found out later on they are slightly different.
    I “bought” the car when I was 12 or 13 (I forget which, it was over thirty years ago) in exchange for mowing and cleaning flower beds one day a week for the whole summer for the mother of the lady who owned it. (I probably would have been better off to have bought a car outright, but she really didn’t wan to sell it!) It only had around 60k miles, but had jumped time due to the cheap plastic timing gears of the time. My brothers and dad helped me install a crane blueprint 350/300 horse cam, a “cast off” cast iron q jet manifold and rebuilt 69 q jet carb. Drove it for a while like that and every time I would come to a stop, the low oil pressure light would flicker (even the ss dash didnt have an oil pressure gauge (!). Installed a gauge and yep, almost no oil pressure. Dropped the plan and cleaned all of the shedded plastic teeth off the oil pump pickup. Didnt even install a new pump! Ran great then. My middle brother had bought a wrecked 70 chevelle ss for the LS5 454 and we worked a trade for the SS hood, dash, front disc brakes and 12 bolt rear axle. The disc brakes and rear never made it in, but it looked the part. Sold it around 1994 when I needed money for school, and rust kept breaking out behind both rear tires. Wish I had it back!

  8. Steve

    On a side note, the EC was built on the same platform as the station wagon. Right at the front f the bed floor is a plate that covers the area that would have been the rear seat foot well in the wagon. My dad welded a piano hing to the front edge bed as I told him I would use it as a tool box. Being a mischievous teenager, I used it to haul beer! A buddy’s dad raised horses and I cut a piece of stall mat to serve as a bed liner, so it was well hidden. I’m not sure if they had the spray foam in a can then or not, but if I had used that, it would have been insulated as well. But then my dad would have wanted to know why I had an insulated “tool box”.LOL

  9. milotus

    I always liked these – they were good looking,
    nice driving machines.
    A Friend of mine had a ’72,in SS trim,Burnt Orange,
    with Black stripes,& he kept it in perfect shape.
    One of the cars that I’ll always remember.

  10. Fred W.

    Looks like original paint other than drivers door, maybe that’s why the striker has paint on it. Nice looking Camino.

  11. JW

    I always liked these over the Ranchero and I’m a Ford guy, this looks to be a nice car for the money.

  12. KD

    Hey guys, good info. as always… here’s a pic of my ’71. 350/350 car. (Yeah, I know the grill is a’72!!)

  13. Bruce Best

    I really wish someone would build something like these again. There is a market for a high style light truck in this country and if the qualities are as good as these are I think they will have a real sales winner. Even a smaller platform that looks as good going to a nice restaurant as it does to Home Depot would be a good choice.

    • Andrew

      But they do. Holden (GM) Australia has the Chevrolet SS ute, see pictured. I totally agree, it would be nice to have something for around the house, without being a gas guzzler or huge footprint. These ones are available in Africa and middle East as well.

      • Andrew

        Front view.

  14. stillrunners stillrunners Member

    My favorite factory wheel….ran them on my 1964 SS…..they came off the boss – at the time – 71 SS ‘Camino….i’m not counting the factory option Hildebrand’s Studebaker offered in 1964…those rare….

  15. Rustytech Member

    Is this the one GM was supposed to import for Pontiac before they decided to dump the marquee? These were great trucks, until just a few years ago you could pick one of these up for a song. They’ve really come on strong, even the 1980”s models are getting over $10k for a nice one. Looks like this guy needs some funds to finish that 69 Camaro race car project behind it.

    • ACZ

      Yes, but if it would have happened, they needed a name for it. An internal GM survey was done for suggestions and El Camino came out on top. Couldn’t be used because of it being used at one time by Chevrolet (Suburban, Safari, etc…..go figure). That’s about the time Pontiac was headed into oblivion.
      I have to wonder about the “Turbo 400” mentioned. In that era, 400s were only used behind big blocks in the A-body. This small block, pictured, looks too original to have been swapped in this car. Plus, it requires a different driveshaft, linkage, an electric kick down switch, etc. Somethings not right.

  16. ben

    I have a few looking at a 59 yesterday like 59 60 64 best drive a 83 as my everday car restoreing 3 have had all years lost count how many get them 3/4 restored and some one buys them ben in fl

  17. 68 custom

    I really like this car but I would have to carefully inspect it for the dreaded tin worm particularly under the vinyl roof. decent looking otherwise.
    back in the day I went to look at a 68 SS-396 a guy was trying to sell, that camino was loaded with power windows, locks, tilt, buckets/console, factory am/fm-8 track, A/C, Th400, and 325 Hp/ 396, factory air shocks, light sentinel and disc brakes unfortunately rust had not left much to work with and the guy was real proud of it…

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