John's El Camino Project
History and Modifications
Current Build Sheet is Here
I purchased this El Camino from a neighbor for $2000 around 1992, and has been driven daily since then. I did nothing but drive it for 5 or 6 years. It was great, reliable transportation, with lots of utility. It had a white tonneau cover with a rip from vandals about 4" long. Other than that, it was in great shape, with only a touch up on the tailgate. My neighbor had replaced the 305 with a 350 short block. He used it to pull a 22 ft trailer, and put 175,000 miles on it as the original owner. After all the Iowa winters, the body was dissolving. Time to fix it up!
The motor was smoking a
bit, so I installed a rebuilt 350 long block in November of 1997. There are
now about 45,000 miles on that motor. I replaced the 1984
computer controlled carburator, with 2 different Holley rebuilt versions, but
could not keep it from running rich, and fouling plugs every 300 miles. This
helped me to make the decision to make it more of a street rod and make some
changes. Out with the computer! The conversion is detailed below. I
have gotten over 20 mpg with this setup. Then the heads went south, followed
shortly by the low end, and now It has a 350 CI ex Jet Boat
engine with an RV cam and 10:1 flat top pistons, and one piece rear main seal.
I could no longer pass emissions testing in our area (Now exempt) so I converted to Throttle Body Fuel Injection using GM sourced parts. Then passed with flying colors.
TBI unit from 1989 Camaro, System converted to TBI 4/2005
Suburban TBI intake
MSD Blaster II Coil
Cold air through the cowl
Serpentine belt set up from 1992 Caprice February 2011
I have installed a tach in the dash from a Monte Carlo SS, and took the 10 bolt Posi rear end from the same car. The Gear ratio is the same as my original at 2:43. All new brakes and lines in that rear end too. A bonus was the rear stabalizer still on the rear end! That 7/8" bar has been replaced with a 1" from OPG. I'm using a 1.25" front sway bar from a Buick that really flattens out the corners. Suspension page is here. I have Since tried a 3.73 open rear end, and it was too steep for highway. I replaced the gears with 3.23 ratio, and then added the Posi. The Transmission was a 350C with Lock up torque converter, and is now a 2004R with a super servo, and really gets great mileage. 21.9 mpg at 75 mph on one trip from Chicago to the Quad cities.
Thanks to Rick at EC Parts in California, I have a couple rust free doors and a Choo Choo Customs cowl induction hood. I also bought new GM rear quarters. The ZR1 rear roll pan, and IROC-SS ground effects came from Russ at The ElCamino Store. The car returned on September 16th, 1999 from McNair Body Shop in Conrad, IA. Great job on the paint & body work by John McNair!
In late 2002, I bought a WS code steering gear from a 1984 Z28, and instaled it with modifications to the power steering pump as well. That has since been replaced with a Monte SS style box for better road feel.
New non scratched windows were added in the summer of 2003 as well. See details here.
Exhaust is Aluminized, Mandrel bent 2" all the way by Expand It Corp in Waulkee, IA. The DynoMax Super Turbo Mufflers rusted out, and have been replaced with Pro-Flo Stainless welded mufflers. I like the sound much better. Also, see the Headers just installed 5/2003. I need to change the headers to a different style, and exhaust to at least 2.5". Next upgrade.
I have been a jeweler since 1983, and there are a couple extra's I have added to the wheel & grille.
It will never be finished........... but it will be driven a lot, and HARD.
El Camino at work: