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Parked in The ’80s: 1965 Chevrolet El Camino

Some enthusiasts hesitate if confronted with another person’s project build when it comes to market. There’s always a worry that its shiny paint hides second-rate repairs that will come back and bite the new owner. I don’t believe that will be the case with this 1965 Chevrolet El Camino. The previous owner performed their build in the 1980s, and if rust and other nasty problems haven’t emerged after more than thirty years, it suggests they completed their work to a high standard. They parked it near completion, and the seller recently revived the Chevy so it can head to a new home. You will find it listed here on eBay in Beavercreek, Oregon. Bidding has raced beyond the reserve and sits at $5,655.

Chevrolet based the Second Generation El Camino on the Chevelle, introducing it to the public in 1964. The company initially dipped its toe in the water in 1959 and 1960 with an El Camino based on the Brookwood. First-year sales proved better than expected, but the numbers plummeted during 1960. Therefore, there was some trepidation within GM Management ranks as they unveiled the new model in 1964. The fears proved unfounded because even the worst year for the Second Generation variant produced 50% more sales than the best year for the First Generation. The seller discovered this El Camino in storage. It had occupied the same spot following a refurbishment performed by a previous owner in the 1980s. It is unclear whether the Ermine Ivory gracing its panels is the original shade or whether a color change occurred. The paint looks respectable for its age, but the lack of deterioration or emerging rust after over three decades suggests the workmanship is of a high standard. The panels are clean, and while the underside carries surface corrosion, there are only a few small rust spots requiring patches. The trim and glass look acceptable for a survivor-grade classic, and the Chevy rolls on a set of Torq Thrust-style wheels. The unpainted sections of these are oxidized but should respond well to a spot of elbow grease and a high-quality polish.

The VIN for this classic decodes to confirm it rolled off the line with a V8 under the hood. Chevrolet offered a couple of variants of its 283 and three of its legendary 327. It is unclear which motor originally occupied this El Camino’s engine bay, but it currently features a 283ci V8 of unknown specifications. Its power feeds to the rear wheels via a two-speed Powerglide transmission. Determining performance figures would be pure speculation, but it is worth remembering that due to the fact there is only about a 10lbs difference across the range between an El Camino and a similarly-equipped Chevelle, the figures should be comparable. The seller doesn’t indicate this El Camino is numbers-matching, although I wouldn’t rule out that possibility. The engine presents nicely, but we must remember the previous owner parked it in around 1989. The seller revived this classic, and it appears they may have added a new alternator and Edelbrock carburetor as part of the process. They say it runs and dives but needs work to become roadworthy. That sound like an excellent way to pass some time during the upcoming winter months.

One aspect of this El Camino requiring little is its interior. The previous owner replaced the upholstery as part of their build, which still presents exceptionally well. The same is true of the carpet and dash pad, while the faults are minor. The wheel center is missing, and there may be some color deterioration on the dash fascia. This second issue is difficult to confirm because an in-person inspection may reveal it is a trick of the light. If there are problems in that area, several manufacturers offer penetrating plastic dyes that could return the fascia to as-new without breaking the bank. The original owner didn’t load the interior with luxury items, but it looks like someone may have added an aftermarket AM radio.

I’ve always been a fan of these light pickups because of their versatility. These classics can carry or haul surprising loads, but they offer comfort close to that provided by the passenger car from which they’re derived. I like the “coupe utility” variants so much my daily driver is a good old Aussie Ford Falcon Ute. It has been my daily driver for eleven years, which is the longest I’ve ever owned a vehicle of any type. Those characteristics of comfort and versatility help it remain part of my life, and I suspect it will be my weapon of choice until I decide that I am no longer fit to slip behind the wheel. Many owners feel as I do, and if you’ve never considered allowing one into your life, this 1965 El Camino could be the perfect candidate to change that situation.


  1. PaulG

    Currently at $6850 reserve not met, so I’m unsure how it raced past it unless there was an error in the listing.
    As-is; Probably a 12-15k car these days. Puzzling thing is why not get it 100% before listing it?

    Like 6
    • Gary Gary Member

      PaulG, the seller is probably a flipper and just wants it to run well enough to make a quick sale. It’s probably better that they don’t attempt to get it to 100%. The seller even states “we found it, got it up and running again.”

      Like 2
  2. JoeNYWF64

    I’m not sure if the non red replacement carpet, kick panels, dash pad, & steering wheel were chosen because the owner preferred black, or red was not available, or black was cheaper in price. It sure gives the car the not so great look of modern “cars” that have even worse tacky partially colored interiors – the few that aren’t all grey inside.

    • Gary Gary Member

      JoeNYWF64, here’s just a few things that are not correct for a 1965 El Camino interior: steering wheel & column, complete seat is from something much newer, there was no locking seat back in 1965. Even the dash bezel is from a 1964 which were flat-faced compared to a 65’s center horizontal peaked-faced. Cigarette lighter knob should be chrome, and the AM radio might be an original manual tune, no preset push buttons. See attached pic as a reference of a typical 65 interior. I do not claim to know everything about these, but in my late teens & early twenty’s I owned 11 different variations of the 64-65 Chevelle’s, and still own my very first car, a 1965 Chevelle Malibu Convertible.

      Like 6
      • Mike R

        Gary, you are correct. My parents had a 65 Malibu wagon. The dashboard on this El Camino is from a 64, not a 65.

        Like 1
      • robert semrad

        Also, it has the 283 on the front fenders and not the 327 emblems.

  3. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    It will be interesting to see how this auction goes when compared to the ’66 Malibu from the other day.
    The Malibu is currently at $25,200, Reserve Not Met, and this is at $7,600, Reserve Not Met.
    I don’t expect the ElCo to do as well considering the condition and the lack of a back seat.

  4. George Birth

    I’d love to own one of these but my pocketbook says otherwise.

  5. Stan

    Not sure why the camino/rancheros never were more popular. 🤔

  6. Car Nut Tacoma

    Awesome looking El Camino. 1965 has always been my favourite year for the Chevelle and El Camino until the 1970-71 model years. If only more pics were posted.

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