The coupe utility segment is no longer a thing since the death of the Holden Commodore Ute, but cars with a bed were pretty popular in the 1960s. Chevrolet is often credited to have developed the first American ute in the 1930s, but car-based trucks became popular when Ford launched the Ranchero in 1957.
Chevrolet then followed with the iconic El Camino in 1959.The latter survived until 1987, but Chevrolet took a break from offering the El Camino between 1961 and 1963. That’s when the nameplate was replaced by the Corvair Greenbrier. When it returned in 1964, the El Camino was based on the Chevelle, a notable departure from the first-gen model, built around the Impala.This makes the short-lived, first-generation El Camino quite special.
Not only because of its bubble top and wild rear fins but also because it was around for just two model years (1959 and 1960). And they’re obviously hard to find and expensive nowadays. With first-gen El Caminos costing more than $50,000 in pristine condition, it makes sense to save as many of them as possible.
This abandoned 1960 example might not become a Concours-winning classic anytime soon, but it got a second chance at life after sitting in storage for more than 15 years. It’s far from original in terms of paint and drivetrain bits and shows quite a bit of rust, but that didn’t stop YouTube’s “Vice Grip Garage” from turning into a runner.
Repainted matte black many years ago, this El Camino used to be someone’s prized hot rod. At least that’s what the flame and pinstripe graphics suggest. Now it’s missing the front grille and a pair of headlamps, while the fenders show a few large rust holes.
A look inside the cabin reveals that this El Camino used to sport a cool red paint, but it also shows that the rusty floor was fixed with a bunch of license plates. Quite unorthodox, but it actually looks solid. Definitely better than a rusty floor anyway.
As far as power goes, this El Camino is definitely a V8. Chevrolet sold it with 283- and 348-cubic-inch (4.6- and 5.7-liter) engines back in the day, and this truck should employ the former. But it doesn’t really matter since the engine got a series of upgrades at some point, including an Edelbrock intake and carburetor.
The V8 no longer runs, but it agrees to fire up after some disassembly and a few good hours of work. And surprisingly enough, the El Camino is still solid enough to run under its own power.
But the owner had a 700-mile trip from Michigan to Tennessee ahead of him, and that proved troublesome for the old Chevy. Especially since the bed was packed with spare parts and a Suzuki motorcycle on top. Not surprisingly, the El Camino gives up after a couple of hundred miles, leaving the driver almost stranded with no clutch, no oil pressure, and a dead cylinder.
But the story doesn’t end here. Thanks to an impressive set of skills, the guy manages to fix the El Camino and parks it in his shop after a very, very long trip.