Gentleman’s Pickup: 1959 Chevrolet El Camino

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In 1957, Ford introduced the Ranchero, a 2-door pickup based on a station wagon platform. Chevy would join the mix in 1959 with its El Camino, which initially only lasted for two years even though it outsold the Ford. This first-year El Camino has a later (and rebuilt) 350 cubic inch V8 and needs more than its fair share of cosmetic attention. Located in Petaluma, California, this “Ute” (utility coupe) is available here on eBay where the current bid is $2,700.

The Ranchero and El Camino would take different development paths. During 1957-59, the Ranchero was a full-size pickup. Between 1960 and 1965, it would be based on the new Falcon compact platform. And, from 1966 to the end of production in 1979, it was an intermediate (Fairlane/Torino-based). On the other hand, Chevy dropped the El Camino after just two years in 1960 only to resurrect it on the new Chevelle mid-size body in 1964 and it stayed there through 1987. We assume low sales caused Chevy to pause the El Camino in ’60 even though they sold 50% more El Caminos than Ford did Rancheros.

The VIN the seller provides for this 1959 El Camino shows it was built with a V8. But the 283 and 2-speed Powerglide were replaced at some point by a 350 and a TH-350 automatic transmission. However, the utility vehicle (sometimes called a “gentleman’s pickup”) doesn’t run due to some missing parts. If you were to restore this truck with what’s here, it wouldn’t ever be numbers matching.

We’re told that the body has little rust although dents are not in short supply. You’ll have to repair the corrosion in the bed and there is some below the rear tire on the passenger side. Though there are no photos, the seller says the frame was cleaned by the prior owner and now wears black paint. The side windows are cracked, but they’re simply flat glass. The bench seat is missing along with the radiator, but those shouldn’t be hard to replace. All-in-all, this is an unfinished project – would you take it to the next level?

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  1. stillrunners stillrunnersMember

    Supply and demand drive these 1959 Camino prices….guess we’ll see…..think if it brings over 9 grand for the owner it would be a great pay day.

    Like 3
  2. junkmanMember

    No pics of under the bed or behind the grille. Head lamp buckets always rust through, really cool car, but wicked rusters. You need to look at it with your own eyes to see where the tin worm has burrowed! These are real lookers when done, one of my favorites in fact. I’m not a big fan of the blue, would much rather Carmine red with white roof and white fin tops.

    Like 0
  3. Aussie Dave Aussie DaveMember

    There’s a modified one for sale near me, for a least 6 months.
    The mods are 4 door, and 6 wheels, with a beer keg on the back, lol.

    Like 2
    • Bellingham Fred

      The beer keg might explain the other mods.

      Like 12
  4. Glenn Hilpert

    Owner is asking 15K. Good luck with that one.

    Like 6
  5. HCMember

    This is my favorite year El Camino and being from CA, the rust isn’t terrible. Good news that engine and trans have been rebuilt, bad news the engine isn’t running since the rebuild. Looks like it needs distributor and engine wiring and radiator done before you can get timing right and running. Who knows about the carb and gas tank and lines. Bidding is up to $7600..if you can get it for under $10k good luck.

    Like 2
  6. Piros1

    It would be pretty cool as a completed project but the buyer will definitely have their hands full of surprises when the work begins. Pretty much you have a shell of what could be a nice ride if you want to invest a lot of hours in restoration money in parts or have really deep pockets and want to hire it done. This project pretty much needs everything. The owner said the frame was cleaned and painted but from what I have heard is the frames on these as well as the Impala have week frame allowing the car to have more flex on the road so yo do a first class job you need to add that to. Personally I would not count on the engine or transmission as usable. In my opinion if I were buying a project like this and it doesn’t run I assume on the safe side that it will need to be replaced. So all in you have a body. Looks like it will be a $100,000.00 project to me.

    Like 2
  7. David Bragg

    I love it but too far from home. Me and this ol’ride share the same birth year.

    Like 0
  8. Salem Graham

    Yeah who rebuilds the motor and transmission put some in a car sells the car and doesn’t put a few bucks into a distributor and wires to get it running. Sounds fishy to me I think it’s safe to assume it would need replaced

    Like 4
  9. HCMember

    If the seller spent a little more time and money getting this rebuilt 350 engine, running and driving, I’m sure he could get whatever he’s asking with no problem.

    Like 1
  10. Frog

    There is one local to me along with a 1956 Chevrolet 4 door post sedan. True story it’s a one owner sitting in a barn complete and hasn’t ran since lassie was a puppy. I discovered it several years ago belongs to my friends then boyfriend. He was interested in getting rid of it dirt cheap .So dumb dumb me spent a month of weekends getting it running.
    After his brother found out it ran and was running all of a sudden it’s worth a lot more money. They said they were keeping it family heirloom. 8 years later its sitting untouched and unmoved.

    Like 1
  11. Richard

    Get a look at that hitch receiver, that thing is huge and must go. These go for big bucks in CA. Someone will grab it, my guess is $10-15k.

    Like 0

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