Desirable First Year: 1959 Chevrolet El Camino

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In 1957, Ford introduced a new kind of pickup, one that was a modification to their 2-door station wagon to incorporate a truck bed in the back half. Sales of the Ranchero were strong enough for Chevrolet to follow suit two years later and would go head-to-head against Ford with its El Camino. The first generation of the El Camino only ran from 1959-60, so this truck is from the beginning of Chevy’s journey. The seller confesses that this ’59 El Camino is rustier than he thought when he bought it, so he’s going to leave it to someone else to make a future for it. Located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, this pickup is available here on eBay where the no reserve auction sits at $4,100.

Since the El Camino is not truly a pickup or a wagon, perhaps it can be thought of as a utility coupe. It was not the first time that General Motors would tinker with the concept, the first coming in 1955 with the Chevrolet Cameo Carrier/Suburban Carrier. When they decided to pull the trigger against the Ranchero, Chevy built the El Camino off an adjusted Brookwood-series station wagon platform. This first run of the El Camino lasted just two years. During that time, Ford downsized the Ranchero off its new Falcon compact framework and Chevy put its truck on hiatus until 1964. But it wasn’t due to getting their clocks cleaned by Ford. Chevy produced 36,409 El Camino’s in 1959-60, while Ford built slightly fewer at 35,223. Chevy would find greater success with the concept when it became a Chevelle counterpart in the mid-1960s. Thanks to El Caminos and Ranchero Forum for respective production data.

The seller’s ’59 El Camino was retrieved from a field in western Montana. It must have been an internet purchase as he underestimated the amount of rust on the vehicle from the photos provided. It’s going to need a ton of underpinning patching or replacement. The floors, rocker panels and rear frame rails are all cancerous. While the sheet metal is said to be better, the rear quarter panel paints a gloomier picture. In the plus column is the exterior bright work, which has all survived and would fetch decent money if this vehicle were to become a parts car. If all this doesn’t discourage you, the condition of the interior is not going to raise your spirits either. Most everything inside the cabin is going to need replacing or at least a refresh. The truck underwent a color change at some point as the exterior was said to be white and one time and the interior green.

When it comes to powerplants, this truck is an open book now as the original 235 cubic inch six-cylinder is long gone. The 3-speed manual transmission is still in place. Maybe you could find a nice period-correct 283 V-8 to drop in the hole that currently sits under the hood. The buyer won’t have a struggle when it comes to loading the El Camino on to a trailer for the ride home: it’s said to roll and steer easily.

When it comes to paperwork, the buyer will not receive a clean title. Instead, the seller will attempt to provide the buyer with a New York transferable registration (but the truck is in Pennsylvania?) which is said to be an acceptable proof of ownership. However, said document is not currently in the seller’s possession and the buyer may have to wait for the seller to find it and mail it to him. If the registration never materializes, the seller promises to sort it out at his expense. Failing that, he would be willing to buy the vehicle back. I would have sorted this out before putting the truck up for sale.

Given the physical state this truck is in and the lingering title issue, what is this 1959 El Camino worth? Well, if it were in Concours condition, Hagerty points to something north of $36,000; even in fair condition, maybe $14,000. What would you be willing to spend to take on this project? Or would you take a pass?

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  1. IanC

    Too rough for me.

    However, coolest…truck…ever!

    Like 0
  2. Turbo


    Like 0
  3. canadainmarkseh

    I like it and would want it if it weren’t for the fact that I already have a project car. Its pretty rusty but I’ve seen worse that were brought back. I hope a skilled DYI guy gets it. I’d put a 327 in it back up by a 5 speed stick.

    Like 3
    • jerry hw brentnell

      forget this thing look at all the better trucks this guy has in the background! lots of neat pickup trucks there!

      Like 1
  4. moosie moosie

    If the seller (any seller really) has taken the time to photograph the car and if they are using a cell phone couldn’t they please use “landscape” mode instead of “portrait” mode. This el Camino shows promise but would need a personal up close inspection of that rusty frame,

    Like 2
  5. James Martin

    Wow people must have deep pockets these days. Crusty rusty and no motor transmission. And bid over 4 grand. You will have 30 plus in restore . Forget about it.

    Like 1
    • Phlathead Phil

      You make perfect sense.

      Like 1
  6. 200mph

    I would seriously consider this to harvest the glass, dash and all the stainless steel interior and exterior trim.

    Otherwise, this is pretty “northeast salt-encrusted winter roads” frightening.

    Like 0
  7. CaCarDude

    I sold my ’59 elky I had for over 20 years to a guy who put near $100k into it, and my car was 100 times better than this rust bucket. The listed car is best used for a parts car and not a very good one at that. The ss paint dividers on the upper fin point are worth $400+ alone. Bed Trim is near ruined with all the holes drilled for snaps. In good shape that 8 pc. set would bring $1k + Too bad the lazy seller could not provide better pictures.

    Like 0
  8. JolietJakeMember

    Another no title piece of rust. 200mph, you are right. Parts car, i’d offer $150 for the cool dashboard, and call it a day.

    Like 1
  9. ACZ

    Throw in a free mig welder and I might think about it.

    Like 0
  10. Gray Wolf

    Jack up the antenna and put another car under it! Oh, the antenna is also gone, well ???

    Like 1

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