One white-knuckled hand gripping the armrest, the other fist filled with seat bottom upholstery. Watching, eyes as big as saucers, a smile tattooed to his face as the 409's roar filled the 1959 El Camino's interior. It was a half-century-ago ride that a 14-year-old Dan Turner has never forgotten...
As is the case with a large majority of us, Dan Turner has been an automotive enthusiast since he was a youngster (and I'd wager that his El Camino ride from long ago had an awful lot to do with it). As time passed, Dan, true to his enthusiasm, amassed a slew of awesome performance cars and trucks. Aside from his childhood dream truck, the 1959 featured here, he presently owns three Corvettes (a Panama Yellow 1958, a black 1969 Stingray Coupe, and a black 2005 C-6 daily driver), a 1966 C10 shortbed Fleetside, a 1971 Camaro RS, a 1954 Coupe De Ville, and his very first car, a chopped 1947 Chevy coupe powered by a 409.
Dan's El Camino turned out to be a three-year, top-to-bottom restoration project that he tackled (with some help from a few of his close friends, namely Larry Holmes, Robert Garrison, and CLASSIC TRUCKS alumni Phil Baily). The restoration was pretty much a par-for-the course project. The job began with a complete rebuild of the El Camino's foundation including front and rear suspension, steering, plumbing, and brakes. A quartet of American Racing Salt Flats (in a 16- and 17-inch combination) were chosen to accentuate the El Camino's classic lines – and do so exceptionally.
Once the chassis was wrapped up, the driveline was next on the agenda. Being a restoration more than a rodstoration Dan opted to retain the "truck's" original, but special-order, engine and trans combo (a 335hp, Tri-Power-equipped 348 backed by a bulletproof Powerglide two-speed) and a freshened, stock, limited-slip factory rearend.
With the chassis and driveline under control, the next steps were bodywork, paint, and fresh upholstery. Dan enlisted the talents of Darrin Wood to handle the task, once the body was massaged back into pristine condition and prepped for paint Darrin laid down glass-smooth coatings of Roman Red, the primary color, and Snowcrest White, the secondary. After the paint was cut and buffed, the glass, Bumper Boyz bumpers, and freshly polished stainless trim and emblems were installed as the finishing touch to the exterior. With the El Camino looking even better than the day it rolled off the line Dan was down to the last order of business – the interior. From the dashboard to the door seals, the El Camino's cockpit was treated to a full restoration with Robert Garrison finishing it off with brand-new two-tone vinyl and cloth seat upholstery, door panels, and headliner which matched the 1959's factory design perfectly.
And here you have it, Dan Turner's ravishing resto. An El Camino he should be rightfully proud of and one that we're just as proud to showcase as our first official El Camino feature – welcome to the Classic Trucks fold.
1959 Chevrolet EL Camino
Frame: restored stock Safety Girder X-frame
Rearend / Ratio: GM limited slip / 3.42:1
Rear suspension: owner-restored stock, heavy-duty sway bar
Rear brakes: drum
Front suspension: owner-restored stock IFS, heavy-duty sway bar
Front brakes: GM power
Steering box: stock GM
Front wheels: 16x7 American Racing Salt Flat Special
Rear wheels: 17x10 American Racing Salt Flat Special
Front tires: Kumho Ecsta, 225/50ZR16
Rear tires: Kumho Ecsta, 255/55ZR17
Gas tank: stock
Engine: 5.7L, 335hp, 348ci Super Turbo-Thrust V-8
Valve covers: stock steel
Manifold / Induction: iron / three two-barrels
Ignition: stock GM
Headers: stock iron manifolds
Exhaust / Mufflers: aluminized / turbo
Shifter: stock column
Style: El Camino, coupe-pickup
Fenders front / rear: stock
Hood: stock GM
Grille: stock GM
Bodywork and paint by: Darrin Wood
Paint type / Color: Urethane / red, white
Headlights / Taillights: stock
Outside mirrors: stock GM
Bumpers: restored stock by the Bumper Boyz
Dashboard: stock GM
Gauges: stock GM
Air conditioning: factory GM
Stereo: stock AM radio
Steering wheel: stock GM
Steering column: stock GM
Seats: stock bench
Upholstery by: Robert Garrison
Material / Color: vinyl, cloth / red, white
Carpet: red, Eckler's