Live Auctions

Worth Saving? 1959 Chevrolet El Camino

The seller says that this 1959 Chevrolet El Camino is rusty, very rusty. Once you check out the detailed photos you’ll see that they aren’t lying. The exterior photos look good other than the missing metal around the quarter panels, but you’ll need a Fred Flintstone costume to drive this one, at least until it’s restored. They have it listed here on eBay in Thief River Falls, in northern Minnesota, and they list a $5,000 buy-it-now price.

It’s hard to argue with the design of a 1959 Chevrolet El Camino. This was the first year that they were produced and they only made the first-generation cars for the 1959 and 1960 model years. Ford beat Chevy to the pickup punch by two years but Chevy nailed it with this cool and unusual design.

If there’s a cooler tailgate you’ll have to let us know what it might be in the comments section, I can’t currently think of anything better than this design. The El Camino would go away for four years after the 1960 model year and when it came back it was no longer based on the full-sized B-body, based on the new two-door Brookwood station wagon, but on the intermediate A-body.

The seller doesn’t give us any engine photos which is always supremely disappointing when they take a ton of other photos. This one decodes to having had a six-cylinder engine originally which should have been a 235 inline-six with 125 hp. It may or may not still be under the hood, we don’t know because they don’t mention the drivetrain at all. They say that this car is one of four that they bought from the estate of the previous owner who bought the cars 50 years ago thinking that they’d make one car out of all of the parts and then they sat in the woods for 50 years. The seller is listing all four of them for $5,000 each.

For being exposed to the elements, literally sitting in the woods for 50 years, the inside of the bed actually looks pretty good. But, you can see that the floors will need a lot of work as will the quarters and we don’t see the drivetrain – if there is one – or the underside. Hagerty is at $23,000 for a #3 good condition car, can this one be saved?


  1. Rex Kahrs Member

    There isn’t another car made that I like more than the ’59 Elco. I suppose that, based on the first year one-year-only body style, it could be argued that this car should be saved. I say go right ahead.

    Like 19
  2. Bluetec320 Bluetec320 Member

    The listings for two of the other cars for sale state that the motor is stuck. My guess is that this one doesn’t have an engine. In my honest opinion, I don’t think all 4 of them bundled together are worth $5K. All that is salvageable is some glass, a few gauges, and some trim. Again, I’ll pass.

    Like 14
  3. Steve Bush Member

    To me the 1959 El Camino is one of the coolest car/trucks ever. But I think this one is too far gone, especially at $5k. But a couple of the four the guy has for sale, might be good candidates for a restomod at maybe $2-3k.

    Like 5
  4. stillrunners stillrunners Member

    “Backyard ClassicsThief River Falls, MN” – with “thief” in the equations – I’d need to pass. This is a parts car only and a lot higher priced than it needs to be.

    Like 8
  5. Patrick Farmer

    First, I am half crazy so I would do something stupid like restoring it, but I have history with a 59 Elcky. There was a pitiful lady in my neighborhood that was a horrible drunk. One fine day a 1959 El Camino like this one appeared in her driveway. I asked her if she would think about selling it. She said she would but that she wanted more than a couple of hundred bucks. So, I called my friend and he headed over to look at it with me. My sister dropped by and asked about it and told her was going over to talk to the lady. So, all three of us went over. We all decided to pitch in $500 a piece and get the car. We all went to our banks to get cash, when we came back the car was gone. Now we told the lady that we were going to pay her $1500 and she was happy to hear this. We put $100 down. She had sold it while we were all at the bank. She handed me back my C-note. I had to ask. What did you sell it for? Ready………..One case of beer. I had to stop two grown persons from beating her to death. My friend and my sister went into parking orbit. I was pissed but I remembered what an old used car salesman once told me. There is a butt for every seat (when selling a car) and there is always another car (when purchasing a car)

    Like 3
    • Rex Kahrs Member

      It’s sad to think that someone would be so skeevy as to take advantage of the the poor woman to that extent.

      Like 6
  6. Patrick Farmer

    I have been weak for 1959 El Caminos since.

    Like 1
  7. Arthur

    Based on what I saw in the pictures, this car is too far gone for a regular restoration. First, the car would have to be disassembled in order to be media blasted to reveal the true extent of the rust damage. Then a new floor and possibly rear fenders would have to be fabricated.

    Frankly, considering that it’s going to take a lot of work to simply restore this car, whoever buys this car would be better off using this as the basis for a restomod project, perhaps with a Roadster Shop chassis and an LSX 454 with a Bowler Performance 4L80E transmission.

  8. Fin Guy

    Pretty rare tri tone.
    Blueish, white and rust.
    But, two tone, is good.
    If you like it, do it. Other opinions mean nothing,
    Learn sheetmetal replacing with one. At least you tried.

    Like 5
  9. local_sheriff

    Should it be saved? Hell, yeah it’s a ’59 Elky! Would it be financially sensible? Probably not, but IMHO this gotta be THE most iconic truck ever. There will never be MORE of them…
    It’s way beyond my skills but there are many semi-professional car guys out there with magic hands. Offer the seller half of his asking and it’ll be yours – he seems to just wanna get rid of the mess

    Like 5
  10. Tempo Matador Ray

    I’m with you local_sheriff…Strike up a deal and use this project to sharpen your skills in fabrication and application. After all this is a forum dedicated to projects and bottom-feeder deals, isn’t it? I’m currently working on a very scarce vehicle purchased out of South America. If you’ve never challenged yourself in this way before, it sure would make your confidence and skill level thrive…Continue to innovate not duplicate.

    Like 5
  11. Steve Clinton

    ‘Thief River Falls’ a fitting location.

    Like 1
  12. Steve RM

    There is no cooler tailgate. Love these things.

    Like 2
  13. Larry S

    I have a Brillo pad with less rust.
    This is like one of the piles of junk that the government was giving incentives to destroy a few years ago.
    Forget about how much more it would cost to restore than it would be worth.
    This is not the only El Camino on earth and so many good examples can be found for much less

    Like 2
  14. junkman Member

    It’s not surprising that rust free versions of these command serious dollars. Having owned a red and white one I know what head turners these are. Will it be saved or parted out? I’m in with the save it crowd, ton of work but worth it in the end.

    Like 3
  15. CaCarDude

    This ’59 Elky was one beauty when new with the two tone paint being the Snowcrest White on Crown Sapphire. Appears this was the lowest budget of the line with the six banger and three on the tree, radio (non pushbutton) and heater only. But looking at this I see the very hard to find and desirable SS paint dividers. $500 value Also the 8 pc. bed SS trim looks to be all there and non drilled with snaps etc. (bed top trim is same on ’60 also) $2k clean and polished. I could see someone with some good restoration skills doing a nice restomod with this. Gonna be a labor of love and you will have a rare beauty here when done.

    Like 4
  16. Rodger

    Years ago I missed out on a freshly restored 1960 two tone (Green and White) same roof line, different lights. The thought of loosing out on that vehicle haunts me to this day. I was visiting a friend of mine at a tire shop where he worked and there was the 1960, his boss had bought it two days earlier. At least I got to have one more long look to etch it’s beauty into my mind.

    Like 3
  17. Johnny

    Great body style. To each his own. Its worth saving. Besides no one knows what it might bring when you get done with it. Looking really nice. I,d have to put the 396 in it. That I have.

    Like 2
  18. Larry S

    It’s a pile of rust not even a donor car except for tail lights and that’s a lot to pay for tail lights

    Like 1
    • CaCarDude

      Actually true it is a pile of rust, but it also can be saved. There are still a lot of good donor cars out there, sedans and wagons, which are not the big money cars like the El Camino is when finished.
      If you follow the current price guide on these you will see that a No. 1 car is now North of $95k. Hard to believe I know but the market is crazy on these first year Elky’s.
      I have parted out a couple like this in the last 20 years and have owned two for over 30 years. They are a very unique vehicle and can be made into a great driver. As bad as this one is I still say save it.

      Like 2
  19. BobinBexley Bob in Bexley Member

    I’ve owned & driven worse. Add oil & fuel, crank’er over. If gas comes only out the exhaust then we got a winner !

    Like 1
  20. Rex Kahrs Member

    That made me laugh Bob.

    Like 1
  21. ron foley

    ive had mine since 71.paid 1100 for was black with a 283 3 spd on the tree..i drove it for about 2 years then painted her yellow and put a 327 300 horse in her..then painted her red and a 348..drove her alot of summers like was black so she could be any 2006 i painted her red with flames and bagged her with extended skirts put a 454 and a 700 tranny..blew a couple maybe more hangers so i kept my foot out of all them years i picked up over 23 first place and 15 second place trophys..just sold her to a dealer in alberta canada for 20,000..hope he has as much fun as ive had with it

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