Doesn’t Have To Be An SS: 1970 Chevrolet El Camino

It’s an old but trenchant joke that there are more ’57 Chevys now than there were in 1957, and the same could probably be said of most popular muscle cars. The one that bugs me the most might be the El Camino of the ’60s and ’70s, 99% of which seem to have magically become big-block SS sport machines—not that there’s anything wrong with an El Camino SS, which is a cool variation on the muscle car theme, but the lack of representation for “cooking” models makes us forget how fun and useful this type of vehicle can be, even in its basic form. So I was pleased to see this untouched ’70 El Camino here on craigslist in Riverside, California, and a little dismayed to read the final line of the ad: “Enormous potential as a restoration or modified muscle car.” Please, the world doesn’t need another ridiculous modded El Camino. I’m afraid, though, that the $15,000 ask is too steep for the preservationist buyer, but let’s take a look.

Useful, indeed: this El Camino is being sold by the son of the original owner, who used it mainly to tow his boat. Records with the car apparently indicate that it hasn’t really been driven since 1975, and it hasn’t been registered since the original owner, like the El Camino itself, died in 1987. It’s cleaned up pretty nicely from the state pictured above, although the vinyl top is a bit rough and there are dings here and there—overall, it presents as a nicely equipped, honest, honestly used truck. Mileage stands at just over 30,000, and the 350 V8 fires right up, but will need work before being driven any distance. Just to prove that an El Camino doesn’t have to be over the top to be fun, the 300-horse V8 is paired with the original four-speed manual, although as this is a bench seat car, it’s almost certainly a column shift.

No photos of the interior, engine, or underside are included in this ad, which bothers me at this high a price point. We’re told that the seat needs to be re-covered, but otherwise the interior is in nice shape, down to the original radio. The bed, covered lo these many years by a shell, does look good, but for $15k I want more detailed photos to give me a better idea of this truck’s potential. What do you think, based on what we can see here—preserve, restore, or use as a blank canvas?

Fast Finds


  1. flmikey

    I highly doubt it’s a 4-speed column shift…though, I have been wrong before…very nice find…

    Like 1
    • Squad41

      It’s not.

  2. John M.

    It cleaned up quite nicely and has potential but I’m with Nathan on the $15 grand asking price. It’s too steep.

  3. Rob

    Way to steep without great pictures and less excuses for obvious needs. I would be inclined to pay $15k if it was in good mechanical shape, headliner and seat fixed. May even pay $18’s??

  4. Scot Douglas

    Not a 4 spd column shift – look at the CL ad – interior pics shows floor shift. Slight oversight…

    • Nathan Avots-Smith Member

      Well, whadaya know…as the text states, at the time I was writing this, there were no interior photos, so I had to make a guess. The last six photos on the ad are new since yesterday. Looks pretty nice inside, now that we have a chance to see it!

  5. Mark Hoffman

    Nice memories. When I was 17, my dad bought me a gold 1970 El Camino. October 1976. Wheels were painted gold, and it had 71 Chevelle wheel covers. Owners manual and warranty papers indicated it was bought new in Texas and owned by Del Monte. Mine had the 307, and a powerglide 2 speed automatic. Not in the parts book. I just started asking for 1970 Nova 307 stuff. Somewhere along the line someone put a dark brown leather top on it that ran down the side of the box and ended above the tail lights. It also sported an aftermarket Am/Fm/Cassette head unit with SIX speakers. Sold it to a neighbor, his wife wrecked it, he had it repaired. When he traded it for a newer car, I rushed to the dealership to try to rebuy it. It sold an hour before I got there. That was 1981.

  6. Chebby

    Love the original hubcaps, those and the color is how I remember most Chevelles in the 70s. Price is greedy greedy greedy and it sounds like a flipper who pried it away from the son of the original owner. The four-speed is on the floor, there are pix of it.

  7. Howard A Member

    Got to admit, when I saw the headline, I thought Nathan was commenting on the owner’s attitude :) Neat truck. Nice and plain.

  8. Steve

    EC’s rule. My first car was a le mans blue 71 with a 350/ 350 combo. Lotsa good times in that car. Another one I shoulda hung on to. A nice feature of the EC was the steel panel in the floor of the bed at the front. A few screws held it in place over where the foot wells would be in a station wagon. Some creative work with a “piano hinge” and a welder, as well as expanding foam (not yet commercially available in a spray can like now, I knew someone in the utility industry who used it to straighten and stabilize utility poles), along with a rubber bed mat led to the regular transportation and consumption of “adult beverages”, (unfortunately, by non adults) without the knowledge of the local constabulary.

  9. jw454

    I’m pleased to see it has been washed the some clean up has been done. Looks like there is more to go but, you have to leave some for the new owner too.
    I like it.

  10. Dan

    I like el caminos…….had 3 of them……1965, 1967 and a 1973……cant give the durn things away….no more for me…..I have a buddy that has a 1970 SS LS-6…….bought new, but it is a big time rust bucket….

    • Graywolf

      How about a ’70 El Camino SS 454 for $120 G’s at MECUM Auction!! Wow!! EC’s are coming around!!

  11. Ken

    It took thirty years for the son to finally let his father’s car go. I am sure he would be willing to entertain offers now that he has made up his mind to move on. Any additional pictures can be provided upon request. I stress that there is zero rust on this car.

  12. Jay

    4 speed column? It’s not a European car.
    I know of no 4 speed column on US car.

    Unless you consider Reverse one of the four. That would be a three on the tree. Lol.

  13. 68 custom

    decent car ambitiously priced.

  14. Little_Cars Alexander Member

    Doesn’t even look like the same car. I am not picking up on silver rocker panels from the original as found photo, but then again that one is pretty faded to begin with. Price is greedy…will be paid by someone no doubt who will screw with its originality.

  15. Tim Pokorski

    The 99.00 repaint really hurts it IMO. Looking at the engine, I wouldn’t be so sure on the claimed 30K.

    Nice project, desirably equipped but a bit overpriced IMO.

    • rmward194 Member

      I’m glad I’m not the only one who thinks this may have been repainted. The inside, other than the seat, and the bed look like 30K, but the rest of it shows more than 30K wear.

      Like many others have said $15 grand is way too much money for this.

  16. JohnD

    I was flamed last time I suggested lightly modifying an otherwise original survivor, but here goes. Cragars and BFG T/A radials, dual exhaust, and of course a bitchin’ stereo. Just like so many from my youth in the 70s and 80s.

    • Doug Towsley

      John, No shame in what you suggest, Dont cut anything up that cant be reversed, but a tastefully modded muscle car is fine by me. They cant all be nut and bolt fake SS restos!
      My wifes 69 Chevelle is a Malibu and built like what we grew up with in the 70s & 80s ourselves. I bought her a hurst 1/4 stick super comp shifter to go with the Muncie she commandeered from my parts stash. More parts on their way.
      Upgrading the brakes and suspension too. We are currently arguing over the paint job. I will paint it, but if not the color and stripes she wants she is threatening to kick me out so I guess she wins.

  17. Rex Kahrs Member

    I have to laugh at the photo of the ElCo with the cap over the bed. Isn’t that simply a station wagon?

  18. Ric Parrish

    I rebuilt one for a lotto winner, it was very loose, doors are very heavy and feel like they want to fall off. It came out pretty good however, so I rebuilt two old ford trucks for the same guy.

  19. Mountainwoodie

    I’d be a buyer for this at 7500.00 tops..only because of the 4 on the floor. If it was last registered in 1988 and hasn’t been on non-op.the back fees will be brutal. The original plates are almost priceless. They are commercial plates I think and I know that trucks could have either blue and yellow or black and yellow up through 1972. 1970 cars had to have blue and yellow ( the new ones).

  20. J.R.

    That’s an $8k truck the way it sits.

  21. angliagt

    That’s one expensive car wash!

  22. joeinthousandoaks

    No back fees on cars that have been off the system for 7 plus years. That being said, don’t let the DMV take the black plates away. If the original owner’s son really does still have the car in his possession than registering would probably help with the sale. AS for the mileage, with all the grease on the valve covers and the wear on the drivers area, it is at least a 130,000 mile survivor, not 30,000. I like the 4 speed and especially with the 300 horse 350.

  23. Kirsten

    I just purchased a 69 for $10 grand . Now in paint and body… $6500. $15 sounds like a good deal to me!

  24. Little_Cars Alexander Member

    I’m sure all the rubber is toasty. Crispy weatherstripping adds a lot of water into areas that should be dry. If it stays in Cali, this might not be an issue. Anywhere else, expect to replace all soft parts.

  25. Will

    Here’s the saved ad with all the images and details

  26. C Carl

    Black plates on trucks phased out about mid 1970, maybe 71. You need front and back in California.
    Nice truck, top dollar.

Leave A Comment

RULES: No profanity, politics, or personal attacks.

Become a member to add images to your comments.


Notify me of new comments via email. Or subscribe without commenting.