MAY 2016 FAST FUN ON THE ROAD WITH A 1959 EL CAMINO

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The El Camino was a newcomer when it hit the GM showrooms in 1959.

 

The hybrid of a car and truck was Chevy’s answer to the Ford Ranchero which debuted two years earlier in 1957.

 

‘The spirit of competition has always been a driving force in the automotive world and the rivalry between Ford and General Motors is the stuff of legends.’

 

 

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Thus the arrival of the 1959 Chevrolet El Camino, complete with a Spanish-sounding name in similar fashion to Ford’s Ranchero, was not a huge surprise to car guys at the time because Ford and GM will always be the Hatfields and McCoys in car circles.

 

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The El Camino was an offshoot of the 1959 Chevy Brookwood two-door station wagon and shared a basic platform with the wagon. The obvious difference was the boys at GM took a big saw and cut the roof off the back end of the Brookwood wagon and basically gave the El Camino a truck bed behind the front seat.

 

 

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The new look for Chevy in 1959 was its horizontal rear fins and the El Camino’s body lines really enhances this stylish flair on the car/truck. There were about 22.000 El Caminos built in 1959, and far fewer of them left in 2016, so we will pursue any opportunity to get a story about one of these very cool automotive oddities from the Fabulous Fifties.

 
We spotted a 1959 El Camino at a downtown cruise and tracked down owners Nolan and Tracy Desjardin for a story about their unusual ride. They had driven the El Camino several hundred miles to attend the cruise and were very happy with its performance along the way.

 

 

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Tracy was actually a little happier than her husband Nolan because she was willing to push the Elky a little harder on the road. Nolan labelled her a “bit of a lead-foot” when she was behind the wheel and said she drove at the “speed limit-ish” on the trip to the cruise.

 
Nolan is a mechanic by trade and said he is “easier on vehicles” for that reason. He also said a long trip in the El Camino was “not bad if you are in the driver’s seat”. We assumed Tracy’s heavy foot may have caused the discomfort for Nolan, but it was actually a matter of extra room because he is a pretty big guy and the passenger compartment in a 1959 El Camino has less space than the driver’s side.

 

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The reality is the overall cab space in an El Camino cuts off pretty quickly and limits the room in this hybrid of a car and truck.

 
Nolan and Tracy’s El Camino has a big upgrade in the horsepower department because it now sports a 383 Chevy stroker and a 700 R-4 transmission to channel all those horses to the rear wheels. Nolan told us the Elky gets about 17 mpg on the highway. We got the impression Tracy has affected those number a bit when she was behind the wheel.

 

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‘One thing is certain when all is said and done: Tracy and Nolan have a lot of fun when they take a road adventure in their very cool 1959 El Camino resto mod.’

 

 

Jim Sutherland

 

 

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