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Daily Driver Project: 1959 Chevrolet El Camino

I like to think the coupe utility/pickups — like the Ford Ranchero and Chevrolet El Camino — were made for those who experience analysis paralysis, just like me. This 1959 Chevrolet El Camino, in particular, goes beyond satisfying my emotional/intellectual needs as it also meets my personal tastes by being a unique, original condition classic capable of daily driving duties. I found it here on Craigslist in Sacramento, California for $25,000.

Albeit 2 years late to the game, I contend the El Camino was a much better offering than the Ford Ranchero it was competing against. It’s a matter of taste, but I see them as simpler, cleaner, and more attractive. The El Camino sold in modest numbers in 1959 with 22,246 leaving the factory. With sales down to 14,163 for 1960, the El Camino was dropped from Chevrolet’s lineup, effectively replaced by the Corvair Rmpside and Loadside pickups. The El Camino would return for the 1964 model year with stronger sales numbers.

With a $25,000 price tag, some may be expecting a show car. That is not the case here. While the exterior is presentable — with paint in decent shape, no trim obviously missing, and no major damage visible — it’s not perfect. The paint is faded with some panels mismatched, there’s rust along the bottom of the rear quarter panels, and the bed looks like it was actually used for truck-like duty. The seller describes the exterior as having “minimal rust in floor corner, lower rear quarters behind tires” but notes it does have “solid door jambs, rockers, frame, bed, and tailgate.”

The interior features seating for 3 on a bench seat. The seat has a cover on it, the carpet is well worn, and the door panels have seen better days. They’re all cosmetic issues that won’t get in the way of this El Camino toting you around town.

Several engine and transmission options were offered on the 1959 El Camino. This one has a 283 cubic inch V8 backed by a column-shifted automatic transmission. Both were options from the factory, but we’re not told if they’re original. The seller says it “runs excellent” and is being used as a daily driver.

There’s something about the 1959 El Camino I find appealing. Perhaps largely due to what I described in my intro paragraph, but there are some other nuances that hit the right spot for me — the wraparound rear windshield, the trailing roof over that rear windshield, teardrop taillights, and it being utilitarian but beautiful. There are plenty of other cars I’d plop down $25k for before this one, but based on recent sales, the ask isn’t out of line.


  1. Avatar photo Euromoto Member

    “the carpet is well worn.” The “carpet” is a piece of indoor/outdoor from Home Depot. Regardless, nice piece.

    Like 12
  2. Avatar photo bobhess Member

    Price seems a bit high for the condition but you can’t say it’s not one of the finer pieces of car art.

    Like 15
    • Avatar photo skody54 Member

      I love the 59s. My first ‘ old car’ was a blue 4 door Biscayne. Loved it, but it eventually needed back floors. Ah. The memories of slamming a knee getting in with the wrap around windshield. LOL. I taught my sons how to drive with that. I would take them to a cemetery with the curves then an old industrial park. I got rid it when I picked up a 64 Catalina convertible.

      Like 6
    • Avatar photo MikeG.

      Beauty may be skin deep, but, in this case, ugly goes right to the bone !

      Like 9
  3. Avatar photo Fahrvergnugen Member

    “I contend the Ranchero was a much better offering than the Ford Ranchero it was competing against.”

    So it competed against itself?

    I too like the flat-top rear window treatment of the ’59.

    Like 7
    • Avatar photo Jonny C Staff

      Good catch. Updated.

      Like 4
      • Avatar photo Richard Burton Jr

        OH MY GOD ! — You made a mistake, , Welcome to the club ! — We here are all called “Human’s” and we do it all the time because we didn’t get an Owner’s Manual when we were born !! — Can’t wait to see your next article, this one is a nice write up about one of my favorites auto’s. Thanks

        Like 15
  4. Avatar photo junkman Member

    I had one of these, I bought it in primer black. Bad idea. Brutal rust everywhere, needed a tranny ( th350) fixed that and had it painted. Red with a white roof and fin tops, sharp looking ride. Seemed like every time I drove it, something else would fall out from the body. Hard to find rust free parts, Too bad because they really are one of the coolest looking rides going.

    Like 0
  5. Avatar photo Chris Cornetto

    59s are tops whatever style. I’m lucky enough to have a convertible I bought when these were considered a joke. The Elcamino is way cool. this one being, from the looks is rustless. The prices stager me but I would plop 25k on this before some of the 70s or rusty Mopar crap that rolls across this site. This or a Pacer…hmmmm. these cars are works of tin art and damned reliable. rust is the only enemy. Mechanical parts are a bargain, just don’t have a fender bender. love it, an easy resto of a great automobile that’s time came and went but is timeless.

    Like 11
  6. Avatar photo Rw

    When I was a kid in the early 70s we had a 2 door post 59 ,3 on tree ,6 banger,we would get mom to wind out low and bark the tires in second.

    Like 6
  7. Avatar photo 62 linc

    Oh my dad bought a 59 El Camino around 1965. Black inside and out. Did not have factory air but it did have the dealer install cool pack with the huge Frigidaire compressor under the hood. The first thing my dad did was take out the air conditioning because it was too heavy he said. We removed the carpet to clean it and the driver side floor was patched with a stop sign. Lol. It was our family car for several years. I don’t remember what happened to it but the cool pack air conditioner stayed in the sheds for 20+ years until I guess my dad threw it away.

    Like 6
  8. Avatar photo Norman McGill

    Looks more like 8 or 10k to me. Still I like it.

    Like 9
    • Avatar photo Greg in Texas

      When something is that low, things have gone wrong. Well hidden by the nearby pavement. It’s going to need a lot to get it right, but it’s beautiful. Best truck body style ever perhaps.

      Like 2
  9. Avatar photo Burt

    I can’t imagine what it was like to walk through car lots in 1959.

    Like 4
    • Avatar photo 370zpp Member

      Lots of sharp edges to watch out for.

      Like 8
  10. Avatar photo ACZ

    This is the Holy Grail for El Camino lovers.

    Like 4
  11. Avatar photo Luigi

    There’s a fully restored 59 El Camino on Hemmings for $65k. You’ll go through $60k restoring this. Easy.

    Like 5
    • Avatar photo John

      I said that the other day. At Maple Motors for under 40k you can get a really nice whatever… And that’s with a dealer adding on their slice. Idk where people are getting these junkyard dog prices from. But see people paying way too much for literally junk I’d crush on here.
      It’s obviously for people that never restored a car before. Cuz if you plan on a rotisserie plan on a minimum 55k. So starting another 10 to 20 in the hole…. Yikes… Must be nice to have a trust fund

      Like 0
  12. Avatar photo Vince H

    If the badge on the hood is original to the truck it came with a 348 from the factory.

    Like 3
  13. Avatar photo Joe DiNoia Member

    I picked up a 59 Elky in 2011 from a guy in California.I still have it and paid 11,000 for it.Sold the 350 and TH400 and and the headers and started to redo the car.Original sheet metal,BUT,after removing the rear glass,a third of the pinchweld area is gone.Some rust under the bed floor also but that aside,not bad.Check these closely no matter where it comes from.Asking price a bit high for its condition in my opinion.But,ya never know!

    Like 2
  14. Avatar photo Joe M.

    What’s missing? (square hole passenger side firewall)
    Gotta love the 2x’s holding the seat up…

    Like 0
  15. Avatar photo Greg in Texas

    I’m not big on American heft but I can’t lie: That’s my ‘Batmobile Truck’ dream. I don’t like the lowered nonsense, because I’d want to have options to use it as a truck. Not a fan of bagging it, as I’d probably want it with 2-3″ lift and bigger diameter wheels and tires, not wide just practical and not super low profile. Tan leather interior silver with black trim and accents. Would love black. Had a black car once. And that was enough. Anyway, congrats to whoever the new owner is. You’ll do it how you like it and I’ll still be jealous.

    Like 1
  16. Avatar photo Larry Ashcraft

    There’s no such thing as a “rear windshield”.

    Like 0
    • Avatar photo mfrk

      Unless your going backwards

      Like 0

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