Tri-Power/4-Speed: 1959 Chevrolet El Camino

This 1959 Chevrolet El Camino underwent a frame-off restoration 10-years-ago, and since then it has only managed to accumulate 1,153 miles. Its presentation is mighty impressive, and the owner makes the claim that you won’t find one finer. If you agree with this claim, then you will find the El Camino located in Shelton, Washington, and listed for sale here on eBay. Bidding on the classic Chevy has made it to $26,200, but the reserve hasn’t been met.

During the restoration process, the El Camino was refinished in its original Roman Red. In the decade since this work was completed, the paint has shown no signs of any deterioration. The panels are arrow-straight, while the paint continues to hold a nice shine. It would appear that nothing has found its way into the bed since the restoration, because there isn’t a scratch or mark to be seen anywhere. The external chrome and trim look to be close to flawless, while the same would appear to be true of the glass. To me, these late-1950s pickups such as the El Camino and the Ranchero have spectacular styling, and even though I admit to having a strong leaning towards the blue-oval products, I can’t help but really love the styling of the ’59 El Camino. It is just something really special.

When it was new, this particular El Camino wasn’t all about practicality. The fact that it rolled off the production line equipped with the tri-power 348ci V8, backed by a 4-speed manual transmission and 3.70 Posi rear end meant that the original owner wanted a vehicle with a bit of serious performance. With 315hp on tap when new, this allowed the El Camino to accelerate from 0-60 in approximately 7 seconds, while a sub-15 second ¼ mile was also pretty easy to achieve. The owner says that the original transmission and rear end remain in place, but the 348 that rests under the hood is date-correct, but not original. It also isn’t completely standard. It has been bored and stroked, and with a 427 crank, its capacity has been increased to 414ci. The tri-power setup remains in place, and while it isn’t clear what sort of power the engine now produces, I think that an answer somewhere along the lines of “plenty” would be a pretty fair estimate. The owner provides no informtion on how well the El Camino runs and drives, but as with so much to do with this vehicle, the engine bay does present nicely. If this is an indication of mechanical health, then the news should hopefully be quite good.

The interior of the El Camino was originally trimmed in Gray cloth and vinyl, but the restoration process brought a change that looks pretty impressive. The combination of two-tone red and cream cloth, along with red vinyl, gives the interior a very classy appearance. This is an interior that is pretty hard to fault, but that is a fact that is easy to understand given the limited use that it has seen since the restoration was completed. The original radio remains in place in the dash, and the only real fault that I can identify is some lifting of the upholstery on the very lower edge of the driver’s door trim. It isn’t clear how badly the vinyl has deteriorated, so hopefully, this can be repaired.

The owner’s claim that you won’t find finer than this 1959 El Camino would appear to have some merit. The overall presentation of the car is extremely good, and identifiable faults are pretty few and far between. Of course, nothing beats a personal inspection when it comes to assessing the merits of any car, but on face value, it would appear that someone will potentially be scoring a vehicle that represents a nicely preserved older restoration.


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  1. TimM

    What a sweet ride!!! The only thing I’d do to this truck/car is put some nice rims and tires on it!!
    Just because I hate white walls!!!

    Like 20
    • Chris M.

      Exclaimed clearly!!!!

      Like 2
  2. Tom Member

    The recession bought my 59 El Camino. Took me 10 years to find it and about 10 minutes to sell it unfortunately. One of my all time favorite cars. I WILL own another one.

    Very strange market on these cars. I have watched these specifically for 30 years. Guy in high school had one and I fell in love with it. You either love them or not. The money is never very strong on these BUT this will be an exception due to its excellent condition and amazing drivetrain.

    I am glad it is RED….I personally have had WAY TOO MANY red cars and this gives me a reason to say no to this one unfortunately. Not that I don’t like red or this one is bad, not at all, I am just tired of “retail/resale red”.

    Beautiful car. Best drivetrain set up you could ask for as a OE guy. wonder what the reserve is? 8″ Corvette Rally Wheels, Crager SS or good old period correct Chrome reverse wheels (American Graffiti) look great on these, my opinion.

    Like 7
  3. local_sheriff

    As a lover of any X-frames it’s hard to not like this beauty and with that driveline it will move! I like what I see, however pics seem to be dated in 2009 so I’d be curious whether they illustrate how it looks today…? Also, the vin tag may look abit messy (sequence # looks way crisper than series #) and should be inspected closer to make sure there’s no fishy history lurking in the background…

    Like 2
  4. Howard A Member

    Even though I don’t care for the car/pickups, there’s no denying, aside from the Coupe Express of the 30’s, these were the nicest ones. Not sure why, the fins, the one year tail lights, I think the ’59 Chevy was the nicest style for years to come, maybe even ever. Look at the engine compartment. Wasn’t it nice when you could trace where all 7 wires go?
    Now, not to sound redundant, but a POS VW bus, or this? Coo coo, coo coo ( spinning finger around ear)

    Like 5
    • Mountainwoodie

      Tell it like it is! HoaA :)

      Except I like the car/pickup. Keeps you from having to haul folks around AND allows you to haul stuff. And what car guy doesnt like to haul stuff!

      But I might add the ’57 Ford Ranchero. I have a serious jones for either of them.

      I’d want an original one that hasn’t been ‘restored’. After all this is pretty much a perfectly set up garage queen. Then what? Go out and look at it? Take it to cars and coffee? Too darn nice.

      Give me one that has some time and wear on it with the 4 speed and I’m in.

      Like 1
  5. Joe Haska

    I have had several later years of the El Camino, and liked them allot. Having a 59 nice as this one ,would put a new meaning to likeing it allot, how about in love with your car / truck!

    Like 1
  6. Tooyoung4heyday Member

    Love this car! Red wouldn’t be my first choice but it definitely presents well. Nice to see the correct yet upgraded engine instead of run of the mill small block. Four speed is always a plus and I imagine hard to come across. For me the vote is a nice set of chrome reverse with no moons to finish this one off, then drive the tires off. Thanks for sharing this one!

    Like 4
  7. Paul L Windish

    Nice looking example of an El Camino. The 4 speed reminds me of a ’72 El Camino I once owned with the 350 and 4 speed. I got 2 tickets within 3 weeks just normally going through the gears in two small Barney Fife led towns, 40 in a 30 and 45 in a 40. Sold the car after I was married as the wife could not get the hang of driving a 4 speed.

  8. John

    Shouldn’t these be called body-off restorations? You don’t pull the frame out from under the body, do you?

    Like 2
  9. Terry J

    Regarding the 427 crank used in the build: The 427 (Z11) was a special 427-cubic-inch (7.0 L) version of the 409 engine designed for drag racing and NASCAR. Unlike the later, second-generation 427, it was based on the W-series 409 engine, but with a longer 3.65 in (92.7 mm) stroke. A high-rise, two-piece aluminum intake manifold and dual Carter AFB carburetors fed a 13.5:1 compression ratio to produce an under-rated 430 hp (321 kW) and 575 lb⋅ft torque. Very few were built.

    Like 4
    • stillrunners Stillrunners Member

      Most 409 builds today are based off the newer cranks available such as the 427/454….

    • Paolo

      I did not know this What about the 427s used in the larger trucks? Were there 3 different 427s?

      • Terry J

        1st the W engine: 348, 409, 427( few built for drag racing & NASCAR). Then came the more common Mark 4 engine :366 (trucks only,396,402,427,454.

        Like 1
      • ACZ

        And don’t forget the tall deck 427 that was used in Medium Duty trucks.

        Like 2
  10. 200mph

    El Camino only came with Bel Air (mid-level) exterior trim and a Biscayne (budget) interior. Its nice to see this one upgraded to Impala (top level) spec inside and out. We’ve done the same thing with our blue ’60.

    Like 2
  11. Robert White

    Cool, man.


  12. Chris M.

    Love the 348/414 stroker but looking very stock

    Like 1
    • ACZ

      You can get even more cubes using a 454 crank. HRM had an article on doing this some years back. The mains are on the same centers on the BBC as the W motor. Diameters are different so the crank has to be cut.

      Like 2
  13. mainlymuscle

    Long ways to go,this is a 40 to 50k vehicle,could even do more.I have one and even non car folks adore the car,simply a style tour de force.

    Like 2
  14. Morley Member

    I have the twin for this car, bought it in 1978 at Carlisle, PA. Drove it home, should have left the 348/four speed in it but I did not. in went a 427/Richmond 5 speed, some candy paint and I drove it to lots of Car Craft shows. Had to drive it, could not afford a trailer. Maybe I should have left it stock, it was a really nice car, but every time I think I might restore it, I realize it is way more fun this way. Have not driven it in 10 or 15 years, just start it up once in a while , do a burn out and then the cover back on. Hey, does this qualify as a barn find.?????

    Like 5
    • ACZ

      Yes! Now, clean the fuel tank, put a fresh battery in it and drive the hell out of it! I’ve done the same thing, as you, with too many cars, and it’s stupid.

      Like 2
    • Robert White

      That’s the cat’s pajamas, man. Only one life to burn up as much fuel as possible in a burnout, eh.

      Smiles at the gas station too, eh.

      Cheers, Bob

      Like 1
  15. stillrunners Stillrunners Member

    Nice 59….

  16. 86_Vette_Convertible

    Looks pretty good, but why wouldn’t it when you use 10 year old pictures. Note the date code on a bunch of them, easy to look good when you look into the past.

    Like 1
    • lawrence f kniveton

      There are a number of reasons that can cause a digital image to display an incorrect date stamp. Fixing it can be just a bit cumbersome, especially for someone who may not be that computer literate. My hiking buddy sends me photos from our trips, all of them display the same date…June 2010.

      The seller has 116 ebay transactions with a 100% feedback score. Not a huge sample but, I would say, enough to give him the benefit of doubt without casting aspersions.

      Like 1
  17. jimmy the orphan

    I live less then a hour away in Kitsap Co. I like the 60′ better otherwise I’d drive down and take a look at it. I won’t waste a guys time unless I’m at least a maybe buyer. Great car. pics taken when resto was done right ? better look just like that now. for 30 grand. Later ……………………………..JIMMY

    Like 1
  18. gaspumpchas

    Good observations, Tom I have been watching the values of these also, Here in NY I have seen some decent (for the rust belt) 348 4 speeds for under 10 grand. I have a 57 ranchero that I have waited 50 years for- 390, 30 over, 4 speed 389 gears. Hope to have it on the road in the spring. Love these, favorite camino for me is a 60. Definitely inspection need, good catch on the 10 yr old pics. Leave no stone unturned when dealing with ebay.

    Like 1
  19. Patrick Huot

    Looks nice.
    I like the the pic with the scoop sticking out of the hood myself.
    Was thinking of doing that to mine (a 60 El Loco Camino) Like that version better also.
    Alas, it’s for sale now !

  20. Robert Marquis Immler

    I had mine at a junk yard and a Mexican guy said “to caro es como un avion”… your car is like an airplane!

    Like 1
  21. Mark

    The auction closed the high bid of $35,205 but the reserve was not met.

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