Good Bones: 1959 Chevrolet El Camino

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Hiding beneath this carport is a 1959 Chevrolet El Camino with a positive story to tell. It has had two owners over the past forty-five years and has spent that time parked away from the elements. That has prevented it from succumbing to the typical rust issues, making it an excellent project candidate. It needs a new home, with the seller listing it here on eBay in Lynchburg, Virginia. Intense bidding has pushed the price to $16,500, although that figure falls short of the reserve.

Okay, it’s confession time. I am, first and foremost, a passionate classic car enthusiast. I lean toward anything wearing a Blue-Oval badge courtesy of my upbringing in a predominantly Ford household. However, if I were forced to choose between a ’59 Ranchero and this El Camino, I’d take the Chevy every time. That is not to say there is anything inherently bad about the Ranchero. I feel that Chevrolet hit the nail on the head with this car, resulting in a vehicle with better styling. Your opinion may differ from mine, and that is one of the joys of the classic scene; There are no right or wrong answers on the topic of taste. The seller indicates this car has spent over four decades protected from everything Mother Nature could throw at it, making it an excellent project candidate. It received a repaint in a non-standard shade of Brown, and the photos suggest it isn’t a high-quality job. The El Camino presents acceptably for a driver but deserves something better. The panels are straight, and many trim pieces were restored in the past ten years. The tinted glass looks excellent, but the SS wheels are an acquired taste. I would probably choose something different during the build, but that is another example of personal preference.

The El Camino’s interior is a mixed bag of trim, although it presents acceptably as a driver-quality classic. The seatcover is free from significant wear and issues, as is the Brown carpet. The door trims don’t match anything, and they would have to go. The painted surfaces wear a shade of Cream that doesn’t look out of place, but the winning bidder might change it if they elect to perform an exterior color change. The only visible damage is the cracked wheel, but with restoration kits retailing for under $100, addressing that shortcoming in a home workshop should be rewarding. Nobody has added extra gauges, and the factory AM radio is intact.

Lift the Chevy’s hood, and …whoa! It’s time to break out the sunglasses because there are some dazzling features to consider. The engine wears cosmetic enhancements, including upgrades valve covers, a chrome alternator, an intake and air cleaner finished in the same material, and miles of braided line. It has a 1980s feel, but that’s just the beginning. Someone refinished the firewall in low-grade Silver, the master cylinder wears a vivid shade of Red, and there is more Red and Yellow flexible conduit that I’d know what to do with. It is screaming for a cosmetic refers, and pulling the motor would be a sensible approach to achieve a high-end result. Powering the vehicle is a 327ci V8 with an unknown power output. They list the transmission as an automatic, but the interior shots reveal a clutch pedal and no evidence of the shifter quadrant for an automatic. It is a question worth asking because it could impact the vehicle’s performance. The seller says the El Camino runs and drives, although they recommend having it thoroughly inspected before hitting the road. That sounds like wise advice to me.

Solid project candidates from the 1950s are out there, but they are becoming more difficult to find as more enthusiasts enter the classic scene. This 1959 El Camino appears to be a gem, especially if you look beyond some of the less tasteful changes made throughout its life. I am not alone in my opinion, which is why nine people have submitted twenty-seven bids. Plenty of time remains in the auction, although it is worth keeping the old saying, “he who hesitates is lost,” in the back of your mind if you intend to pursue it further. If you are the winning bidder, we would all love progress reports on its possible transformation.

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. alphasudMember

    As a kid growing up in the early to mid 70’s there were cars that stood out and made a lasting impression. Cars like the early 60’s Dodge Lancer and Plymouth Valiant or when my neighbor bought one of the first AMC Pacer or my dads friends with the Gremlin X and the Rambler Marlin. This brings me to my best friends pops car which was a 59 ElCamino in red. That car stood out in a sea of cars with its radical tail and its sweeping roofline. I used to walk along side of it when I went to visit and trace the lines of the car with my hand. I never thought it to be beautiful but more of an oddity but I remember it as it was yesterday.

    Like 19
    • Tbone

      You must have grown up in Wisconsin because outside of the midwest amc was uncommon. I know this as someone who grew up in Wisconsin and who’s parents had a 66 rambler convertible

      Like 3
      • alphasudMember

        Actually it was San Antonio Texas.

        Like 2
      • Fred

        I can say for sure that you have never been to NEW YORK!!!!!! plenty of pacers and hornets and gremlins oh my !

        Like 2
    • geezerglide 85

      I grew up in NE Pennsylvania, in our area we had a lot of Ramblers and AMC’s. There were 4 dealers in about a 15 mile radius. My father had a ’61 American, a ’70 Hornet, the a ’77 Pacer wagon. I had ’69 American and a ’78 Pacer wagon. My wife’s sister had a ’78 Concord for a 1st car. Back in the early ’70’s a local guy had a ’59 El Camino he used to race at a local dragstrip. It might still be in his backyard, but last I saw mother earth had reclaimed about 1/2 of it.

      Like 2
      • HCMember

        I love this year El Camino and this one appears to be at least in driver condition. If I were serious I would ask seller to take more pics of the bed to check for rust, or go in person to see for myself. I suspect his reserve is between $20-$25k so it’s def worth the trip.

        Like 2
  2. Maggy

    Cool truck but no pics of the important stuff like undercarriage, frame,rockers,door jams,door seams,bed and a lot more. If you can’t take pics and give a good description of a potentially nice and valuable vehicle then find someone who can and throw them a few bones imo..Sheesh.glwts.

    Like 11
  3. Chris Cornetto

    59 chevies are among my favorites. I bought a convertible when I was 19 and still have it. I always liked these but where I lived, the rust belt by the late 70s, early 80s they were junk as most were used for truck stuff. I almost bought a 348 six pack one. The guy told me it was a 59 and when I got there it was a 60 and minor rust as he described, turned into mud, rivets, screen and wealth of other body nightmares but it did have a 348 six pack in it, tired and noisy so I passed. For what you can see this one appears nice.

    Like 5
  4. bobhess bobhessMember

    One of my college mates had a ’59 convertible, black top and body with a red accent strip inside the side trim, solid red interior and the 348 six pack in front of a 4 on the floor transmission. Slightly lowered all the way around, in my mind is still one of the best looking, best running cars I’ve ever seen. Have seen a couple El Caminos with the same treatment and they really pop. This one should be restored, maybe a color change, and put back on the road.

    Like 3
  5. Kent

    Never really cared for the large fins, but that’s just me.

    Like 1
  6. larroy

    Re “Nobody has added extra gauges”. But they have replaced one – there is an aftermarket water temperature gauge to the left of the speedometer. I agree more pix are really necessary. The underhood shots are scary.

    Like 2
  7. Joe Haska

    The 59 Chevrolet’s are very unique in the car collector world. I was in high school then and I had a 55 Bel Air hardtop. That was a pretty big deal then for a high school kid, 58’s and newer were just not in the cards, too much money and even then the Tri-Fives were king. I am not sure when it happened but the 59’s came on strong and I think the El Camino was the leader of the pack. Then one day I looked around and 59 convertibles were 150 K. So I think this El Camino looks like it could be a good buy, depending on the reserve.

    Like 2
  8. ACZ

    Just beautiful. An Elky lover’s dream.

    Like 4
  9. deadmanrisingMember

    I had an uncle that lived in California and bought a new Rambler there in 1962. AMC cars were available all over the country.

    Like 0
  10. MikeG.

    Adam… another old saying: beauty may be skin deep, but ugly goes right to the bone.

    Like 2
  11. Handsome Pristine Patriot

    My first car was a ’60 Impala Hardtop, 283 with automatic transmission……until that gave out.
    Those were the good old days in the early seventies when you could go down to the town dump and roll over a car and get all the parts required to convert to a three speed manual with overdrive.
    Man, what a boat!
    I remember cruising one of the back roads one night in deep winter when we met a car in an area with drifted snow so high that the plows could only manage one lane.
    We probably both were going too fast, but I steered that behemoth up on the bank while the other car went by, and just as easily bringing er down into the road to keep right on going.
    A few minutes later the old girl started missing and backfiring.
    When we opened the hood, the snow had packed in around the motor nearly up to the valve covers.

    Like 5
  12. MorleyMember

    This is a very old picture of my 59 sitting in my driveway around the early eighties. Still have it, still has the lower, 427 Chev and a Richmond 5 speed. California car with tint las, power windows including the vents–no rust. It goes as fast as you want to go in a 59 Chevy

    Like 14
    • bobhess bobhessMember

      Beautiful Morley!

      Like 3
  13. Steve RM

    I’ve always LOVED the 59 El Camino. When I was 12-13, my “cool” neighbor brought a new 69 vette. He put his El Camino up for sale. The vehicle was in great shape. California car. He was the original owner and he took good care of his vehicles. But no one would pay him a decent price so he just kept it. I used he hang out with him when he was working on his cars. He would take me for a ride in his vette once in a awhile. I never got to drive it though. But with the El Camino he would take me out to some old dirt roads and let me drive it. He would even encourage me to beat on it a little. He taught me how to drift. After one of these excursions I would spend the next day cleaning and detailing that car. My parents (who knew nothing of my driving it) would wonder why I spent so much time at his house. He lived two doors down. Luckily my father kinda liked him despite his lifestyle. He was 40ish, single and had a string of girlfriends. My father was probably jealous but liked hearing his stories. He had lots of cool stories. I learned a lot from him. Both about cars and life in general. My father always thought that he had taught me to drive. I never told him the truth. Russ of course swore me to secrecy about those little adventures and this is the first time I’ve told anyone. I’d love to have a 59 El Camino now. Besides the diecast I’ve collected and the models I’ve built.
    While I don’t dislike 59 Chevies beacuse of the fins, I’ve always thought that they were perfect on the El Camino.
    Just my opinion, but when Chevy updated their 59 cars to the 60 models they went from attractive to ugly.

    Like 8
    • alphasudMember

      Thanks for sharing a cool life story. I spent time at a shop behind our house. I was the little shop rat that went everywhere with the owner when I was about 6-8 years old. Learning more in the shop classroom than at school. My dad was impressed that I could identify every engine internal and knew why the mechanic had a crankshaft on a measuring jig checking for excessive runout. He used to race Harley’s

      Like 5
  14. dogwater

    What’s with the yellow and red conduit

    Like 0
  15. Robert harrell

    I know where a 69 Ford mustang is also I have a 67 Buick Special roller.

    Like 0

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