Live Auctions

Original Paint? 1959 Chevrolet El Camino

The owner of this 1959 El Camino purchased if from the original owner, and while it isn’t currently roadworthy, it looks like it might not take a huge amount of work to return it to active duty. It would seem to be a really solid candidate for restoration, although the next owner might also consider utilizing it for a custom or rat rod project as an alternative pathway to follow. I have to send a thank you out to Barn Finder Roger for spotting the El Camino for us. Located in Seattle, Washington, the Chevy has been listed for sale here on Craigslist. The sale price has been set at $9,800.

The owner of the El Camino claims that the Snowcrest White paint is original and that there are no indications that the vehicle has ever received a repaint. The panels actually look pretty straight, and external rust also seems to be not only pretty limited, but all of it looks like it could be repaired with patches. There is rust present in the floors, and while the best approach would be to replace them in their entirety, it might be possible to get away with only replacing the front floors. The majority of the glass looks quite good, although the windshield has a fairly sizeable crack on the driver’s side, and will require replacement. It is a similar story with the external chrome and trim because while the majority of it looks like it will clean okay, the bumpers would benefit from a trip to the platers.

Looking around the inside of the El Camino reveals an interior that could potentially be whipped into shape by the new owner. The original seat has been replaced, and the cover on this one is pretty torn on the driver’s side. I would be inclined to try to source the correct seat, even if the ultimate goal was a custom or a rat rod project because I simply feel that it would be a nice vintage touch. A new carpet set will need to go on the shopping list. The dash pad is pretty discolored, and also has a couple of pieces broken out of the covering itself. New ones aren’t cheap, so it might even be worth considering having the existing one restored. Otherwise, a replacement will run out at around $590. The door trims look pretty decent, and while the vinyl has come loose at the bottom of both doors, I suspect that it would glue back into place okay. Of course, if the next owner is out for original, flawless presentation, a trim kit might be the best option. Complete kits can be found for around $2,000, and while that isn’t particularly cheap, that does include everything that any owner will need in the way of both trim and installation hardware. The rest of the dash looks quite promising, and I think that it would restore quite nicely.

The engine bay of the El Camino is currently empty, but included in the sale is something to fill the void. The original engine is a memory, so the owner will supply a good 283ci V8 as part of the deal. This is said to run well, and once bolted up to the existing Powerglide transmission, the car would potentially be on the way to being mobile once again. In fact, given the fact that the rust in the floors isn’t too severe, it would be very tempting to drop the 283 into the vehicle, get it to a roadworthy state, and then drive it as it currently stands. It would certainly attract plenty of attention if the new owner chose that route.

From a personal perspective, if I bought this El Camino, I would probably restore the body and interior of the vehicle to its original condition, regardless of what I might eventually slot into the engine bay. The 283 sounds like a promising idea, but I would probably be inclined to ditch the Powerglide for something that would suit that engine slightly better. Of course, the next owner might have a completely different vision for this beauty, so I’d not only be interested to hear what path you would follow but whether we have any readers that might be tempted to invest in this great old classic.


  1. Rex Kahrs Member

    Custom or Rat Rod? Why ruin it? Stick that 283 in it and just cruise it. These cars are perfect the way they came from the factory in ’59, and no amount of bagging/slamming or hot-rodding or custom paintwork is gonna improve on the original concept. Harley Earl and Bill Mitchell knew what they were doing!

    Like 42
    • Chris M.

      Opinions, they do tend to vary.

      Although I do agree with not bagging the suspension and or drastically lowering the car. I’d be fine with a set of chrome reverse wheels and and tri-power on a hot 283. More of a period hot rod look.

      Like 13
  2. CCFisher

    Does anybody else smell Bondo? Not sure why, but this one gives me a Bondo-beast vibe.

    Like 5
    • don

      I’m not so sure , cars from that area do seem to hold up better than many other areas so it could be a well kept up original

    • Chris M.

      After 60 years would it come as a surprise to find some mud?

      Like 7
  3. sir mike

    Please keep her original….These are rare

    Like 11
  4. Gaspumpchas

    Looks like some rust in the bed area, next to the rr wheel. May have been some junk stored there and it held the water. Seems a little high for what you are getting, but I love these. Good luck to the new owner!

    Like 3
  5. junkman Member

    Approach with caution, these are fantastic head turners when done BUT, rust lurks everywhere. The lip of the gas tank, the pans that hold the headlights, the floors and the bottom inside of the tailgate should be your first looks “before” you buy. On the positive side all the tail fin chrome is there and the dash looks good, grille etc. The price is high IMO although you’ll not find these lying around too often these days. Hope the seller comes to their senses and drops the price by a third.

    Like 4
  6. Tom Member

    One of my all time favorites. I had one but the recession bought it!

    I will have another but not this one. Wonder what is under the wood in the bed? Pretty solid but a lot of surface rust. Fair price if the rust is not too extensive. Still going to take a lot to restore, meaning 2 to 3 times what the car will be worth when done.

    It has the one piece rear bumper which was only on El Caminos built in CA/west coast.

    Like 5
  7. 4099 Jim

    Looks like the original engine is a 235 Chevy 6. The engine in the photo is probably a 307 or 327, as it is at least from 1969 or later.

    If I had it, I would restore it and drop in a nice 235. It may not burn rubber for a block, but would be a great cruiser!

    Like 1
  8. Chuck

    If you don’t know what the original engine was, a 348 would really look nice under the hood. And would be period correct.

    Like 1
  9. mainlymuscle

    Price too high ,He’s a dreamer,slash the price…..etc.
    Get real. I have a 59 semi show car.The one I used for parts, sat outside for a few days, and I had multiple inquiries on it’s availability.Sold it for 5 grand,without a sign or any advertising.The trim on this one alone is worth 4 to $5k.
    Tri Fives are not a popular car anymore,but 59 Elcos,and 55-57 Cameos
    (i have 2 ) are still big favourites.This car is a deal ,on the verge of a steal,and will be sold by days end.

    Like 4
    • stillrunners stillrunners Member

      Seen this awhile back as I’m on the hunt for a parts car – still hasn’t sold – so I wonder what the locals see – that we can’t. Sad….but another flipper trying for a home run……….

  10. Morley Member

    This is what to do with one of these cars Morley

    Like 3
  11. moosie moosie

    What makes me wonder is what the responders that are saying to lower the price would price this car at and sell it for if it was theirs, I think there are an awful lot of people in the hobby for the wrong reasons, they seem to gravitate towards buy cheap, pay someone to do the vehicle up properly and then sell for a profit. Half to three quarters of the enjoyment I ever got was to do as much as I could by myself and find some hidden talents, body work, paint, interior, motor work, what I attempted and messed up I farmed out, can not, never could weld, had trouble lighting the torch. but the other things I learned by doing and got good at it, great satisfaction.

    Like 7
    • Chris M.

      Let the truth be told! Seems many have forgotten the reward in the journey through trial and error while building an old car.

      Like 2
  12. John S.

    This caw is fwom Washington… it’s vewy damp thewe and the car is all wusty…

    Like 1
  13. Chuck Simons

    THis looks great. Truly a 20/20 car.

  14. Bear

    original paint?
    I seriously doubt it. :-(

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