Restoration Saga: Transforming the 1959 Chevrolet El Camino into a Testament of the Ranchero Legacy

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The 1959 Chevy El Camino was a wagon-based pickup. This rusty example needs a lot of cosmetc work, but it said to be a decent runner..

In 1959, Chevrolet introduced the El Camino, a coupe utility vehicle aimed at rivaling the Ford Ranchero. This unique vehicle, much like the Ford counterpart, was based on a 2-door station wagon platform. As a full-size offering, it graced the automotive scene for a mere two years before disappearing, only to stage a triumphant return from 1964 to 1987, this time as an intermediate model with the same configuration. Presenting itself as a running vehicle, this ’59 El Camino does face challenges when it comes to braking and bears various cosmetic issues. Currently residing in Eden, Utah, this vintage Chevy is up for auction on eBay. The latest bid stands at $2,025, with the reserve yet to be met. Nevertheless, there is an option for potential buyers to acquire it instantly with a Buy It Now price of $4,500.

During its brief initial production run (1959 and 1960), Chevrolet manufactured 36,400 El Caminos, while the Ford Ranchero saw 45,800 units produced from 1957 to 1959 (in 1960, the Ranchero shifted to the compact Falcon platform). It’s challenging to declare a clear winner between the two until the 1966 model year, when both the El Camino and Ranchero would resurface as equals, mirroring the Chevelle and Fairlane variants. The allure of these vehicles lay in their versatility as pickups, yet they offered the comfort and style of an automobile. They truly embodied the best of both worlds for buyers during that era.

The seller’s ownership duration of this El Camino remains undisclosed, but they appear determined to recover their costs, possibly reflected in the unmet reserve. Despite its weathered appearance, the seller affirms that the frame remains solid, potentially making it a worthy candidate for restoration. Granted, rust has left its mark on both the sheet metal and the floors. However, given that many body panels are interchangeable with the Biscayne, Bel Air, and Impala, finding suitable replacements should not present an insurmountable challenge.

Under the hood, this pickup is equipped with the base 235 cubic inch inline-six engine, coupled with a “3-on-the-tree” manual transmission. According to the seller, it starts with ease and runs smoothly, though it does require a brake overhaul. The transmission and clutch are reported to be in good working order. The vehicle will need a new windshield, but the rest of the glass remains in satisfactory condition. Given the somewhat lackluster state of its current drivetrain, the question arises: would this project yield a profit, or should one consider an LS conversion to truly make it purr?

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