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1969 El Camino Custom

Ben Rambow

Kirkland Washington

Team Chevelle Member #830

Well like most folks, my story started with an ad in the Auto Trader. What was different is that I had actually dismissed the ad for my car when I first read it. It was too far away (about 150 miles), there was no picture, and they even said it needs engine work! I figured it would be a joke, so I passed over the ad and kept looking......

1969 El Camino - 350- AT/PS, 4.11 Posi, Bucket Seats, New Radiator, New Alternator, New Holley 4bbl, Lifted rear, Runs Strong, Needs engine work. Oak Harbour, WA. - $1500 obo.

One afternoon, a friend was at my apartment looking through the stack of Auto Trader magazines that I had. He came across that ad and was immediately all over it and insisted on calling on it.
After chatting with the owner for awhile we found that the "needs engine work" meant the engine had developed a knock to it. However it still ran great. So my friend convinced me to drive out to take a look at it the next day..... As I pulled up to the house I was sold. It had Giant tires on the back so it looked like a big door stop wedged into the carport it was parked in. But it didn't matter. The white on black with hood stripes (as incorrect as they may be) sucked me in. I was defenseless.

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The engine fired right up. It was just like the guy had said, ran great, loads of power (I accidentally did a 180 while test driving - with a huge grin on my face of course) but there was a little knocking sound coming from the engine...It didn't matter I figured replacing the engine in a few monthe would be no big deal. Talked it over with my friend, and counted out $1500 in $20 bills.

O course my little plan to replace the engine in 4 months didn't really pan out when that little knock turned into a LOUD knock and no oil pressure 20 miles after buying it. Yup, it got the rest of the way home riding on the back of a tow truck.

Replacing the engine wasn't as bad as I had thought. After a month long layover in a friends driveway, we installed a brand new GM Goodwrench crate motor. Luckily, the old engine had all kinds of brand new goodies already on it. New alternator, new holley 750, new 4 core radiator, etc. etc.

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In no time it was up and rolling. The next step was to ditch the tire/wheel combo. I opted for 15x10 Centerline Telestar wheels and 245R60 tires all the way around to level it out. Next came the interior. I started out just wanting to clean the dirt off the inside of the gauge lens - I ended up re-doing everything! The entire interior was replaced - from the kick panels to the carpet and seats. I found some cool looking aftermarket seats on the internet, so I ordered a pair and installed them - Scat Procar Rally Recliners - and Yes they are comfortable (That's the first question everyone asks when I'm at a show and they look in the car).

The hood on the car was an original SS hood; but the front lip was terribly rusted out: combine that with small paint blisters all over it and you had my constant irritation - So I bought a Goodmark re-pop SS hood - had a local hotrod custom shop paint it and re-stripe it for me. Now the worst part of the car is the best.

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After a year of driving to shows I wanted to clean up my engine a little more so I pulled off some of the old cruddy stuff and replaced it with brand new polished aluminum.

Upcoming plans are to pull the engine and do a top end rebuild including some GMPP Fast burn heads and a new cam. If I can stretch my money far enough I might even be able to get the front end re-built with new bushings and front disk brake kit.

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So, that's about where it's at now. Looking good and driving good. I don't think there is much that can put a smile on my face quicker than getting a thumbs up from a complete stranger as a drive by....

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