Classic Car Watch
El Camino

May 1, 2005
By Scott Lewis

The El Camino. I don't know if it was first, but it definitely was the most popular of the car/truck thing. I like the El Camino. I have for a long time. I have never been one that needs a truck, but a small truck would come in very handy. I have usually had a friend of relative close buy with a truck, so I never really thought seriously about owning one.

The El Camino really is the perfect compromise for me, if I want a truck. Here we have a car chassis, though a full frame chassis, with a small pickup bed. I watched an episode of American Muscle Car where they featured the El Camino. One person said the reason that there aren't many left today is because it was so perfectly fit for its dual use, and most were driven until they died.

I have some special needs if I am going to consider the El Camino or Ford's adversary, the Ranchero. For starters I drive my boys to school every morning. That means I would need a bench seat to allow for two passengers. However, one of my sons is getting close to middle school and may not require a ride, so maybe I can get away with a "two seater."

I really like that the El Camino is really a car. I look at them as an affordable alternative to the Chevelle. Because the El Camino is more affordable that means I can look at vehicles that I would not be able to afford in the Chevelle line. The SS 396 immediately comes to mind. I have come across SS 396 El Caminos in my $15,000 price range in the past, but I never find a decent SS 396 Chevelle for that kind of money.

Last month I had trouble getting prices from CPI. It still had trouble this month, so I left off the value range this time. If this continues I will probably switch to using NADA. That present a slight problem because NADA only let's you look up 5 vehicles a day. I know how to get around that, but it is still a bit of a hassle. Also, NADA prices are higher... due to their retail target. We'll have to see what happens next month.

Let's see the cars:

1967 Chevrolet El Camino - $11,995

67_el_camino_mild_custom_blue_1.jpg (43879 bytes)Description: 327 V8, automatic, power steering, power brakes, power door locks, premium sound, CD player, alarm.

Value: ???

Source: Play Toys

Comments: What is wrong with this car? I don't get it. This looks like a very nice, mild custom El Camino. Doesn't every Joe Blow with a custom anything think it is worth a small fortune. It looks like this Elky was lowered, it has nice wheels and a tastefully done mild custom interior. I like it. All he forgot was to put in air conditioning, but we could finish that for him.

This is weird. I am getting a strange vibe here that this is too good to be true. What could be wrong? Rust? If is has rust then that is definitely what's wrong. Other than that I can't see any other reason this wouldn't make a great cruising little pickup.

I could see adding A/C and driving this everyday. I would look into putting an overdrive transmission in it to maximize the mileage. What would it take to get over 20 mpg. Is 25 possible. Gas is regularly over $2 a gallon.

1971 Chevrolet El Camino - $12,500

71_el_camino_gunsmoke_1.jpg (60484 bytes)Description: Restored, V8 engine, at, new Hotchkis Performance suspension, restored disc brake system & more, Cowl Induction hood, gunsmoke gray, black SS stripes, new vinyl top, alloys, etc. Beautiful classic.

Value: ???

Source: Collector Car Trader

Comments: I am inspired. See, all it takes is a nice picture of a nice car. I love the color and the car looks clean. I would have picked better wheels, but the look is still good. I would love to see this car in person. He already got me started with the Hotchkis suspension. Perfect. This is exactly what I want, to put the finishing touches on a well done project car. I think the price is a bit high, but we can negotiate after we see some more pictures. This is a Southern California car, so I am guessing that it is rust free. That would be a deal breaker here (as it almost always is).

1972 Ford Ranchero - $8,995

72_ranchero_429_air_1.jpg (40424 bytes)Description: Squire "500", 2 owners, purchased new at Bakersfield,CA, 429 V8, automatic, p.s, p.b, factory cold air, cruise control, AM/FM, GT wheels w/new tires.

Value: ???

Source: Play Toys

Comments: Oh Wow! 429 cubic inches of big block power... with fake wood grain side panels. What a combination. I bet the "Squire" package slows this car down in the sales department. However, I would not let that deter me. I don't like the Squire look, but I would eventually remove it. I really like a big block with air conditioning. This thing should lay some decent rubber, but with the post 70 low compression and smog equipment creeping in it might be a bit of a boat anchor. But that would be the fun of owning this vehicle. We should be easily able to wake up the old motor with a few modern bolt-ons. Then buy stock in Goodyear because this thing should be able to eat up tires like no tomorrow.

1969 Chevrolet El Camino SS - $11,000

69_el_camino_ss_396_ac_orange_1.jpg (406957 bytes)Description: All MSD ign. Very clean int. A/C blows ice cold, power windows rare opt. New Rallye wheels, new Flowmasters, clean paint, 12 bolt 3.55 posi rear end and turbo 400 trans. Runs and looks great. Yes a real SS, must sell.

Value: ???

Source: Collector Car Trader

Comments: A picture is worth a thousand words. That just doesn't seem to mean much to a lot of people. It obviously means something here. The one picture that was with this ad was a very high resolution image that looked excellent. Not only that, but it has cold A/C on a real SS with a big block that has only 65,000 miles. I just had to put this car/truck at the top of the list. If this car matches his description and is rust free I don't see why we can't put it into use right away. 

I like it... just the way it is. I think I am inspired.

1966 Chevrolet El Camino - $13,888

66_el_camino_4speed_white_1.jpg (38545 bytes)Description: 1966 Chevrolet El Camino 4-Speed, very nice Irmine white paint on blue bench seat, nasty small block, 4-speed, Radial T/A's on Torque Thrusts, this is one of the nicest Elco's we've had, runs and drives great and sits just right.

Value: ???

Source: Pro Max Performance

Comments: I wasn't too keen in this car when I saw it. Mainly it's the all manual issue. This car will need a lot of upgrades to make a pleasant daily driver. Power steering, power disc brakes and air conditioning. That makes this a project car. For a project car like this we would be better off finding a car priced closed to $10,000. However, I love the 4 speed and bench seat. It reminds me of the truck my Dad had when I was a kid. When he would pickup my brother, sister and myself we all squeezed into the front seat. That's right 4 in the front of a pickup. It had a manual transmission, so the one sitting closest to my Dad would shift the gears. It was kind of neat. Maybe we could offer $10K and negotiate our way up to $11,000. Then we could start adding the necessary items to make a great driver out of this car.

1969 Chevrolet El Camino SS396 - $8,950

69_el_camino_ss_396_no_ac_1.jpg (60631 bytes)Description: The real deal! Stock 396ci V8 Big block turbo 400 transmission. Dual exhaust, P/S, Disc brakes, Rallye wheels, Original A/C, Vehicle factory tach. Excellent paint & interior. Very nice. Drives new!

Value: ???

Source: Brockers Beautys

Comments: This car looks a little rough in the pictures. Too bad the pictures aren't a higher resolution. It really helps. Do you even notice that they say it is "original A/C" when the air conditioning has been removed. We might as well consider this a non-air car. Definitely a project car, but the price is reasonable. Notice that the price has been reduced. That's why I say everything is negotiable.

1972 Chevrolet El Camino SS - $10,995

72_el_camino_ss_350_ac_red_1.jpg (47217 bytes)Description: 350 V8 crate engine, turbo 400 automatic transmission, power steering, power disc brakes, factory A/C (cold), tilt steering, factory bucket seats w/center console, SS gauges.

Value: ???

Source: Play Toys

Comments: If this is a real SS then I would like it. The interior needed some work (seat covers and carpet at the least), but overall I think this is a good example of a Chevelle SS alternative. I might have a problem with the bucket and console, but I don't have to worry since it sold already.

1972 Chevrolet El Camino - $12,750

72_el_camino_big_block_yellow_1.jpg (63644 bytes)Description: Equipped with a 396/350 and factory A/C. Turbo 400, 12 Bolt Posi. Rear Axle, Power Steering, Power Disc Brakes, Tilt, Clock, Remote Pass. Mirror, Sway Bars, AM radio and Rallye Wheels. Solid, southern factory Big Block El Camino at a great price!

Value: ???

Source: Classic Muscle Cars

Comments: This car seems rather plain. However, the place that is selling it usually does a good job preparing its cars. For example, I have seen them get cars in and then have their paint wet sanded and other details taken care of. Unfortunately, I think this car might be overpriced since it does not have the original engine. I would like to see this Elky priced closer to $10K.

1971 Chevrolet El Camino - $14,000

71_el_camino_402_black_1.jpg (34721 bytes)Description: Custom, #'s matching, 402 big block. Restored southern car, show car paint job, drive anywhere, 16 miles to a gal. freeway, modified engine & transmission, 3.42 rear end gears. Would like to sell to start new project.

Value: ???

Source: Cars On Line

Comments: Wow, here's a really nice looking Elky with a numbers matching big block. I like it. He doesn't mention air conditioning, so I doubt it has it. We will need to add that, so we may have to negotiate on the price to fit the A/C into our plans for a daily driver.

1969 Chevrolet El Camino - $8,900

69_el_camino_350_auto_red_2.jpg (76798 bytes)Description: Very sharp car, new shinny red paint, solid & smooth body, 350 w/400 turbo trans, a/c, heavy duty tow pkg option, exc cond, new tires & rims.

Value: ???

Source: American Dream Machines

Comments: I am not getting too excited about this car. It seems nice, but the pictures did not inspire me. Maybe I just need to see it in person. It's a vibe thing.

1971 Chevrolet El Camino SS 454 - $9,500

71_el_camino_ss_454_silver_1.jpg (276917 bytes)Description: A matching number 454 CI engine El Camino with automatic trans, air conditioning, AM/FM, Vinyl roof and rally wheels is presented here. The engine is coded CPD for the "365" h.p. option. This vehicle is only in good condition, it will require some body and under-carriage attention, but it is a number matching big block w/air, so the money invested should come back to you when finished. This is a good running vehicle.

Value: ???

SourceClassic Auto Showplace

Comments: This is probably a great chance to get as close to an SS 454 Chevelle as I will get. The interior was very rough, so this is definitely a project car. That also comes through from the description.

1971 Chevrolet El Camino - $6,900

71_el_camino_rough_red_1.jpg (78262 bytes)Description: Strong 350 engine with TH-350 Transmission. Power steering, power disc brakes, tilt wheel, solid bed, tailgate and floor pans, nice body overall that has new red paint. Overall good looking car but driver quality paint job that is nice but not perfect by any means. Grill has small crack, all glass is good, has am-fm-cd stereo, bench seat is a little tired but not too bad, decent door panels, and cheap carpet but useable. Tires are good and same with the brakes. Craeger wheels. No mufflers, just straight pipe to the rear and it is loud and tough sounding. This is a nice driving dependable car that looks good and runs and drives nice.

Value: ???

Source: USA Classic Cars

Comments: Here we have a recently (and cheaply from the sounds of it) painted El Camino with a rough interior. Well, if they didn't paint over rust then this could be a good project car. At the asking price we have plenty of money left over in our $15K budget to restore the interior, detail the engine compartment and install a new exhaust system. We can take that further and add the SS look to it, and start putting some performance modifications in place. But to drive it daily I would need to start with air conditioning. Also, the bed is nasty looking. So we need to deside if we will want this to get a bed liner, either drop in or spray on. Maybe we can just get a nice tonneau cover for it.

All in all this could be a good project. I like that. Just no rust.

1971 Ford Ranchero GT - $13,500

71_ranchero_gt_351_ac_1.jpg (39611 bytes)Description: Built 351 Cleveland under warranty, C-4 transmission, Locker rear, cold air, recent restoration.

Value: ???

Source: Central Valley Classics

Comments: I think the price is high, and the pictures not good enough to make a fair judgment. But it is worth calling to see how firm the price is.

1972 Chevrolet El Camino - $8,957

72_el_camino_350_ac_orange_1.jpg (216856 bytes)Description: Tennessee car, super great driving car that we've been using as a driver lately, small block V-8 runs great!! 350 engine pad #CTL, matching vin# K570799 stamped on engine pad as well!! Automatic, Power Disc brakes, Power Steering, cowl hood w/functional flapper!! Factory AC still intact, flat cap rallyes hugged by new Eldorado tires, rebuilt trans in '02, Audiovox AM/FM cassette, clean black interior w/jack, 10 bolt rear, approx 10 yr old paint is driver quality, excellent mechanicals on this Elky!

Value: ???

Source: Jake's Forgetten Past

Comments: Another rough car. That seems to be typical of El Camino. Does the A/C blow cold?

1972 Chevrolet El Camino - $12,500

72_el_camino_402_black_1.jpg (56532 bytes)Description: SS, blk paint, blk interior, tonneau cover, vinyl RF, 402bb, TH400, 12 bolt posi, power steering, tilt, headers, new mufflers & pipes, lowered, 5 spoke wheels, spares & xtras.

Value: ???

Source: Collector Car Trader

Comments: Here is another example of a good picture making the ad. I wasn't too interested until I saw the image at its full resolution picture. I was almost impressed. I probably would have been impressed if this car had air conditioning, which is a must even if the car wasn't triple black.

I am concerned with the lowered suspension. How much was it lowered and how? Those are very important questions. The wheels look decent, but the picture doesn't give me enough detail to say for sure. I really like the big block, but it needs to be a matching numbers car. Make sure there is no rust on this car.

1972 GMC Sprint - $6,995

72_sprint_purple_1.jpg (67071 bytes)Description: 350 V8 Engine. Automatic Transmission. Power Steering. Power Brakes. Factory Sport Wheels. Custom Interior.

Value: ???

Source: Oldies But Goodies

Comments: No here's something you don't see everyday... a GMC Sprint. This one looks a bit unusual. That is definitely not an original color. This could be a great project car. Another car with the A/C removed.