Tri-Power Project: 1959 Chevrolet El Camino

If I had a dollar for every stalled project car that I have seen for sale, then I would probably have enough money to purchase this stalled El Camino project car. A lot of work has already been completed, but there is still a way to go before this one is out terrorizing the highways again. However, with the work completed coupled with the stash of parts that come with the car, it looks like it is a car worth taking on. Located in Dickinson, North Dakota, it is listed for sale here on eBay.

The owner is pretty honest about why the El Camino is on the market. He has simply lost interest. I think that’s a shame, because it does look like he has completed a lot of work already, and that he was probably on the downhill run. The bodywork is complete, and the car is now in primer. He says that it now needs paint and reassembly. There are a couple of photos included in the ad that indicates everything is present to reassemble the car, and some of the components appear to be new. The wheels fitted to the vehicle are new Cragar wheels, so with the right paint color, this should be a fairly trick looking car.

The 348ci V8 engine fitted to the El Camino has been rebuilt, and is fitted with a rather tasty Tri-Power intake and carburetors. Backing the engine is a rebuilt 700R4 automatic transmission. There is also a new aluminum radiator and vintage air conditioning waiting to be fitted to the car. I think that it’s probably safe to assume that it doesn’t run at present, but it promises to be fun once it does.

The interior is the place where the new owner can put their own mark on the El Camino. There isn’t much trim there, so it really is a blank canvas for them to make their mark. The only thing that we get a reasonable look at is the dash, and it looks like it is in pretty good condition.

Assigning a value for this El Camino is quite difficult, as the modifications really place it in that category of it being worth whatever someone is willing to pay for it. Looking at the market at present, nicely finished custom examples, which is what this one has the potential to become, seem to be starting at around the $35,000 mark, but from there it really seems that the sky is the limit. If this one is as good and complete as it appears, then there really isn’t a lot of work left to get it finished. The owner has set a BIN price of $19,900 for the car, and I don’t think that the price is too bad.

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Comments

  1. Tooyoung4heyday Member

    Definately a fan of the underappreciated ’59’s. Impala or Elk doesn’t matter much to me, just think they’re unique especially in custom form. I like where they were going with this one. A lot of good pieces to finish this prize off but still plenty you could still change. Would love to add one like this to my list of projects.

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  2. Miguel

    For whoever looks at this, they need to make sure that every piece of chrome is there for this car before they pay that price.

    Those Elc only pieces just don’t exist anymore.

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  3. Tom Member

    Ok, 59 El Camino is probably my favorite car. The recession bought mine. Sucks. Now, this car. The description is terrible. Does the owner have ALL the parts (not inlcuding the interior) meaning, um, the front clip? Bumpers? How about some undercarriage photos to tell me about rust/integrity of the car? Do you have ANY of the original interior like the Seat or door panels???

    The engine, ok rebuilt. It looks terrible for a rebuilt engine (I know, rebuild internally) but IN MY OPINION if you are going to rebuild a motor the exterior of it should be restored too and look like a diamond ring in it’s ring box.

    Is it an original 348 car? or was it a 283 or a straight 6? It doesn’t really matter BUT is that 348 date code correct?

    I bet he does have more than 20K spent. So finish it !!!!

    With all the work this one needs, 20K to buy what is there with all the unknown’s and the extensive TO DO list, not sure if it is worth it.

    Is the suspension done, what is it?
    The rear end?
    Exhaust?
    Tell me about the rust. 59’s rusted in the states out West …..they all but disintegrated in the midwest where I am. Actually the did disintegrate AND disappear!!

    It is worth restoring for sure but this owner should regain his interest. Having done the body work is really not doing me a favor because I do not know if it was a super clean car OR if a bunch of sin is hidden within !!!!

    As Miguel said and IS correct, hard (not necessarily impossible BUT CLOSE) to find the missing parts for these.

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    • Tom Member

      Oh and how is the glass? My car was awesome but BOTH side roll up windows were cracked. the wing windows were not great either. How are the rubber gaskets around the windows.

      All of this is money. buying what is here for 20K and doing all it will need WILL be a car with more money invested than it will be worth.

      I have been looking at 1959 El Caminos since 1988. I have owned one. Lord willing, I will own another. They are like some other cars with a really WEIRD market ….meaning…..there are not a lot of these around but they do not have a bunch of demand so the prices never really ramp up on them. People build these and TRY to sell them for big money but they usually have real problems unloading them. Very strange market on them. Part of the problem is that when they get restored, many get “customized” to some degree or painted a color that is not widely preferred and that turns off the prospective buyer like me. I would rather buy one like this that I can finish my way but $20K for a huge box of parts and restoration work that already has me asking questions FROM BAD PHOTS is not a good start to justifying the 20K. If this owner has ALL the parts except some of the interior stuff, the car is a lot more solid and clean (because that is not described) and has done more and better work that is talked about, maybe it is worth it. ??????

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      • RonY

        Tom, sounds like you are really interested in this car, since you have been looking at these ’59s for such a long time you should know pretty much what you want and if I was interested I would be hopping the next low budget commercial local flight and take a look at this one because as it sounds there kinda few and far between, while there you can quell all your questions and make an informed decision, probably the best money you could spend on airfare, probably even get your airfare money back with a decent offer, no offense but serious buyers just tend to operate this way, no matter what a seller says, you SHOULD still go look at it either way, I know I would………..

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    • ken tilly

      The e bay text says that All parts, except interior, are included in the sale. The front clip, bodywork, is included in that statement so I think he would have mentioned that it would be required if necessary. All the rubber is included in the text. My favourite Chev of all time and I’m a Ford man.

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      • Tom Member

        Can’t and won’t argue with you Ken. It is ok, BUT it is a VERY short description on what looks to be a fairly disorganized project. I have been down the road many times on the comment “all parts included” until you start asking about specific items and the words…”well all parts except that…..” start popping up. Just saying.

        Again, part of my business includes high end detailing and restoration work and when I see a comment that an engine has been rebuilt and a BAD photograph is able to show me that the engine is far from “detailed” with nice paint work, polished valve covers on and on…..I have to start questioning the rest of the story.

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  4. Tom Member

    Ron…..are you the seller…???? Sounds like you are. Anyway….

    Yes as I stated, love the 59 EC’s. But as also stated that the recession bought my 59 EC along with my 72 454 Rockcrusher Corvette and my 67 400 Firebird Convertible with most factory options…. along with my luxury home with the 8 car garage where these cars were parked, all to save my business. Well, thank the Lord we made it! So I am rebuilding.

    With that said. I just jumped online and found a completely restored 59, and it looks good & completely done. 454 Supercharged, Air Ride/Bagged, Power Disc Brakes $39,500 or offer. Yes it is red. So was mine.

    There was another one that was sold, nice solid running driver, ready to restore, $10,900.

    Like I said, the market is weird on these. In 1990 you could buy a 59 EC for $25-30K completely restored OR in the middle of a field with a tree growing where the engine used to be for $5K. Really not much different EVER during the past 30 years.

    I swear though, 9 out of 10 are red. I have owned many cars, most of them “resale/retail red”. Most cars that were any other color than red had something radically not right with them on one level or another and had to walk away.

    My point on this 59 in the article is the owner has “lost interest” and is just trying to get his money back on what he has spent so far and, I don’t blame him….I would too, but on the 59 EC it really does not work that way. $20K and you will need at least another $20-30K (honestly probably a lot more than that with zero interior) to get this car painted, assembled and driving.

    The problem is that it is the same story from 30 years ago, they are either “a basket case” kind of like this one…usually worse OR restored done… I do know that I want to restore mine from the ground up ….so buying a done one is not my goal unless done close to what my vision is for the car. This car would qualify for that project but just way too much money with way too many lose ends.

    That is why I said, it makes sense for this guy to get the car finished and sell it. If he does it right he MIGHT get $40K or $50K but it is going to have to be REALLY nice. 59 EC’s are rare…..BUT you either LOVE them or something else. The one’s who LOVE them are about as rare as the car is. IF I AM wrong on this…..the 59’s would sell for Corvette money….and well, they don’t.

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  5. Kenneth Carney

    Had a ’60 model and loved it! It too had
    a 348 with tripower. And yeah, the rust
    monster had consumed it to the point
    that I had to replace a lot of sheetmetal
    just to get it to pass state inspection.
    Most of the damage was in the floor and
    bed area. Thamkfully, the frame wasn’t
    rusted through. What set mine apart from all the others was that mine was
    a numbers matching 348/4-speed truck.
    After fixing what was needing to be fixed,
    I used it to carry band equipment and
    most anything else my family needed.
    Wound up selling it to a kid I knew in
    highschool for 8 or 9 hundred bucks.
    He got a good deal as I had done most
    of the hard work. Saw it after school
    started and he’d done a really good job
    of finishing it. He painted it butter
    yellow and added a black custom interior
    along with some Anson rims wrapped in
    wide tires. Boy do I miss that truck!

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  6. Morley Brown Member

    This is mine, bought it 1978 at Carlisle. Very nice west coast car. Drove iit home– Blew it all apart and did this—427, 6-71 blower, Richmond 5 speed, everything else pretty much stock including the electric windows including the wing vents. Drove it everywhere. lots of Car Craft Nationals in the 80s and 90s. Now it just sits under the car cover. I think they are the best looking car out there. Morley

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    • ken tilly

      Why is it left sitting under a car cover. If it were mine I would be driving it all day, every day.

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  7. Morley Brown Member

    To many other cars like a 427 Ford Custom 2 door sedan, ,,1963 Buick Lesabre 401. dual quad four speed, radio delete and factory tach on the dash. I like building them, then I get emotional and can not sell. Morley

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    • Tom Member

      Nothing wrong with that! Awesome 59!!
      Tom.

      PS – want to sell it? LOL. I had to ask !!!

      As I said above, if someone built it right and along the lines of my vision, it is wroth it.

      Nice shade of Metallic Red. Mine was Bright Red. Next one will be more along the lines of maroon/burgundy. Like the wheels too. Great choices on the drive train. I will be going crate fuel injected with a manual, just have to be able to row through the gears in a car like this.

      Morley, you have had yours for a long time but have you watched the market on these over the years? If yes, do you agree with my assessment? They seem to be, and have been, like $5-10K on the low end and usually total disasters or fully restored for $25-30K some years ago or maybe $35-50K restored in today’s market….and well done at that. There are some custom high end restorations of these out there asking $80-100K but good luck, in my opinion, that is going to require a very specific buyer with a lot of money. If I am going to get into one of these, or any car for that matter, for that kind of money I want to build it exactly the way I want it, not someone else’s vision. You did a very nice job with yours.

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