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Royalty? 1980 Chevrolet El Camino By The Road


Although this 1980 Chevrolet El Camino’s owner has retired, this old vehicle has plenty of life left in it! I saw this Chevrolet beside the road today just south of Garner, North Carolina. The sign on the side of the truck says the owner is asking $8,000, but I’m sure they could be talked down somewhat. The contact number is 919-815-0462. By the way, that’s a one year only vertical bar grille according to some sources.


At first, I thought there had been an engine fire, but then I realized this was the remnants of the original hood decal! As it turns out, this was a Royal Knight El Camino, which was the top of the line El Camino for 1980, and you can get reproduction decals kits for the whole vehicle here for less than $300.


Unfortunately, original doesn’t mean perfectly preserved. This rust is echoed elsewhere throughout the vehicle and shows that despite the General’s best efforts, the 1980 paint can’t survive being stored outdoors forever.


Similar rust exists around the outer edge of the bed on the inside. The bottom of the bed looks surprisingly good, though, and obviously hasn’t been used much for hauling.


Here’s a better shot of the bed. The  discolored area at the top of this picture is just dirt.


One of the things that puzzled me was this area of paint damage around the side mirror. It had me wondering about the originality of the paint, but I saw absolutely no signs of a repaint anywhere. Do you think this could have been factory filler, or did something damage the paint?


The windows were tinted dark enough that the pictures I tried to take of the interior didn’t come out, but trust me when I tell you it was blue and looked immaculate, but probably not original. I’m wondering if the original engine was rebuilt, or if it’s an all-new crate engine. Either way, I’m sure it was pretty expensive. I’ll be honest, the truck doesn’t look like it has 129,000 miles on it. Since the $8,000 is an asking price, what do you think a fair price would be?


  1. JW454

    I’d be more comfortable at about 6~6.5K. These are getting harder to find in good shape here in Ohio. It would depend on how the bottom looked. Sometimes, they look great on the outside but when you look below… not so great.

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    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

      As best as I could tell in the long grass, it looked solid–obviously a better inspection would be in order, but I didn’t see anything other than a little surface rust.

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  2. JW

    It’s a OK vehicle even when new but not 8K worth. IMHO !!!

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    • hcjdkd

      meanwhile this guy gos and buys a 2016 Chevy for $23,899.

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  3. Joe Nose

    Conquista-tudor. No thrill with the 305 which was a lump in a friends’ Monza.

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  4. Fred W.

    Must not have spent that much time outside as it appears to only be rusting where the paint flaked off, and it looks surface only. Probably an easy restoration but not worth anywhere near 8K.

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  5. Kevin

    The weird spot on the door under the mirror is probably original. My family had a 1990 Caprice and after it got kicked out of the garage for a few years the same thing happened to the whole upper left side of the car. 80’s/90’s GM paint and body work doesn’t handle neglect well.

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  6. Allan

    How many dollars can I subtract from the asking price, for spelling mistakes on the printed sheet in the window?? Good grief!

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    • jay

      You mean the car isn’t named Chasey? :)

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      • Allan

        Look again. It’s not even a Chevrolet. I found four spelling errors.

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  7. grant

    Spelling errors irritate me too but that’s kinda harsh. I’d say about 5500 would be fair in my neighborhood.

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  8. Lugnut

    My father in law had one of these back in the day. These were mediocre cars when brand new. Firmly in GM’s malaise period.

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  9. Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

    I’m surprised at the harshness of the comments regarding the spelling in the ad, especially from BF folks. Some of the most intelligent people I’ve ever known probably weren’t/aren’t great spellers, but they sure knew a lot about other things.

    In my first design job after graduating with a mechanical engineering degree, I went to work for a company that made mufflers and exhaust systems designing OEM replacement mufflers. I quickly learned that despite me being the ONLY person on a seven person engineering team with a degree (and probably being the best speller of the bunch), there was a gentleman who hadn’t made it past seventh grade that knew more about designing and manufacturing mufflers in his little finger than I knew in my whole brain and body (and probably ever would). Thankfully, he was kind enough to take me under his wing and instead of making fun of my mistakes, he helped me learn how to do things correctly.

    Was the seller grammatically correct in their ad? No. Did you have any problem understanding what they were trying to get across? I’m guessing not. Thanks to Grant for having the right attitude in my opinion.

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    • JW

      Jamie I agree 100 %, when I was learning the machinist trade I had a trainer who was a jerk and never taught me a thing and I almost was let go, then a older man on another shift seen what was going on and took me under his wing and whithin 6 months I had learned more than the previous 2 years. My punctuation is terrible but I try to get my point across without offending anyone, as long as THEY make it possible.

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    • grant

      To be sure, I get irritated at poor grammar, but there’s no sense in name calling. I’m not perfect. It seems that the offending comment and my reply were deleted. The other part of it was that I think this car would be fair at about $5500, at least up here in Portland. I come here to look at cool old cars and drool over them. But I try not to be insulting. My apologies if I ever am.

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  10. Mark S

    Grammar aside, I think these were cool cars and this one looks pretty good. If it is true that this royal knight has indeed been given a fresh engine and if the interior is in fact in excellent condition, then the ask price of $8000.00 isn’t to far out of line. Have any of you priced out an engine lately. As for the 305 being a dog that is not the case,l put one in my 1970 gmc half ton. It had three on the tree and 4.11 gears in the back. That truck could drop down 20′ of rubber with out breaking a sweat. I put 100,000 miles on that engine without a problem, one of the best trucks I’ve ever owned. These Malibu platforms were solid cars, they just need a few changes and they will go like hell. Remember the auto makers were under the gun from the Feds and the 70’s and 80’s were a big learning curb for everyone in the industry with changes coming every month.

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  11. Jeff DeWitt

    I wonder about that 305. I’m sure it was a dog in 1980 but that was also with 1980 emission controls. This car is over 35 years old and here in North Carolina it’s exempt from inspection. So even with just a good carburetor and ignition system it would probably be a lot peppier than stock.

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  12. Gus G

    Looks exactly like the one I have, same color and stripes. Body looks in better shape but I’ve gotta 355 with 4 speed in mine. Nice sleeper caruk.

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  13. ben

    be nice now ben here in elcamino specialist have a bout 7 right buy sell and trade them all though the royel night is rare a 305 kills it plus the milage these babbies are noted for frame rust iam changing out two right price should be around 5900 never seen one bring more the 10 in mint cond theres one on creags list now for 17000 never happened unless he finds a foolnow a 59 0r 60 or 64 to 72 maybe 70 ss I have a sweet 81 nice paint cowl for 6200 anour new engine frame 350 ready for paint 4500

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  14. TONY

    I’ve got a 1977 and it has the chrome vertical grille the same as this one, mine has had a shunt in the right front, perhaps that’s the only grille the repairer had or could get. Mine was bought in 2005 in Washington state for $3,250 and then shipped to Australia for another $4000, all I’ve done is repair rust in the lower rear quarters and drive it, who cares if the 305 doesn’t light the tires up it’s a cheap vehicle to run and with the price of gas today and the speed limit in town of 35mph who cares, I didn’t buy it as a drag racer.
    In Australia we call them a ute, short for utility vehicle, we invented them in the mid 30’s for the farmer who wanted to take his wife to church on Sundays and have a truck the rest of the week.

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    • Alan (Michigan)

      Love the Utes in Australia, was there for two weeks this May.

      I lament the demise of the car industry in your country, and the loss of all the cool vehicles not built anywhere else. Cheers.

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      • TONY

        General Motors here have been building LHD Chev police cars for the USA for some years now but that is all about to finish in 2017 when the plant closes down.

        Q. Who’s going to build them for you after we finish next year?

        A. Probably ‘bloody’ China like everything else in this world today !

        They’ve just about all gone, Mitsubishi, Toyota, Nissan, Ford, now GM and that’s the end of it, no more Aussie made cars only crappy imports. The US RHD Mustangs are here now but who’s got aus$60,000+ to buy one ?

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      • Alan (Michigan )

        And the “sport-utes” too. Tried and discontinued in the States, forever strong in AU.

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      • TONY

        Where were you in May Alan, I’m guessing the East coast, I’m in South Australia, down the bottom on the coast below the Northern Territory.

        Most utes are run by ‘tradies’ they usually have the big sports bars and hard top lids, then you have the ‘ferral’ utes which are as rough as guts with huge ‘bull bars’ and full size truck mud flaps at the back and massive radio aerials.

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      • Alan (Michigan)

        Yea Tony, You nailed it, mostly the Eastern side of the island continent. Sydney, Cairnes, Port Douglas, then a week in Melbourne. Farthest South we got was Lorne, using Anglesea as a base, where our good friends have property.

        After two weeks in AU, we spent a week in NZ. They also will feel the pinch due to the end of car production in Australia, I believe. So many performance cars, and specialty rides, which were never built anywhere else. In NZ I saw what was essentially a 4-door Mustang, the Ford GTP. The hood was marked “Boss 330″… Mean in look and sound, obviously with a manual transmission.

        I was told that many of the beasty-looking Utes were built to take advantage of taxing statutes. I grinned about city-bound trucks which will never see the rugged bush country.


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  15. Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

    Concerning the photo of the poor paint on the driver’s door, it appears the vinyl pinstripe actually covers the lower part of the mirror stalk where it attaches to the door. While GM’s quality control was not very good at the time, I seriously doubt the assembly line would have installed the pinstripe in that manner. So I suspect the paint has been touched up in that area and a new stripe laid across the mirror because the repairman likely put the mirror on first, then the stripe!

    I also can’t imagine the mirror being installed half over the stripe, so I suspect that the mirror is not in the correct location. Not an uncommon situation when the original mounting screws or bolts pull thru the sheet metal, usually as a result of the mirror being knocked off in an accident. The common solution is to drill a set of new holes. The new holes were likely drilled slightly above the old holes before painting, and the person drilling the holes had no idea where the stripe would be placed.

    In any event, the door will need to be painted, so the mirror needs to be removed. Simply check other ElCamino mirror locations to find out where the holes need to be drilled. [But don’t forget to weld up the existing holes, then drill the correct holes before painting!]

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