This 1969 El Camino went from life on the farm to award winning show truck.
By Don Workman
While I have always loved vintage cars, I had not actively pursued acquiring them due to time constraints. In 2001, my wife took notice of a 1969 Mustang Fastback, thought it was attractive and jokingly asked the owner if he’d like to sell. She was surprised when he said, “Yes” and thought his selling price to be very agreeable. She informed me, I purchased it, made it better, and have been hooked on procuring and rebuilding classic automobiles ever since.
In the summer of 2012, I was at an automotive machine shop in Moore, OK, retrieving parts for my 1969 Chevelle SS. I overheard a customer telling the owner that he had just looked at a 1969 El Camino SS – a big-block car in Norman, OK. He further indicated that he was not interested in it as there would be far too much work involved to make it right. I asked him if he would mind providing the contact information to me, and he very kindly obliged. Sometimes it pays to have big ears and to pay attention to what is being said around you!
I called the owner and made arrangements to see the truck. It was a nice drive into the countryside. Upon arrival, I met the owner who was a rancher. I had discovered projects in all manner of places, so I found no surprise in being led out into a horse pasture. His equestrian beasts had obviously been using this neglected, lonely vehicle as a scratching post. It had been hit on the front left corner, the floor pan was rusted out, and every other part was extremely rough as well. I could see that the motor, transmission, and rear end were there and thought them to be re-buildable. I immediately fell in love with the car. It was a challenge with my name on it!
Negotiations went smoothly and we sealed the deal. I had no trouble winching it up onto my trailer and utilized my running boards to knock the horse poop off my shoes. I almost felt guilty removing an item the animals were evidently very fond of, as they watched my every move.
I hauled the truck to my place of business, MAXX Machine, in south Oklahoma City. By now, my employees had become quite accustomed to seeing me drive or haul in every manner of horseless carriage. They congregated in the parking lot as my latest project and I made our approach, and followed us inside the shop. I heard snorts, snickers, belly laughs, and fielded questions such as, “What in the world are you going to do with that?” I grinned and said, “I’m going to bring her back to life.” She was a diamond in the rough and I knew I could shine her up!
The rebuild took approximately two-and-a-half years. I took it off-frame, replaced approximately 90% of the parts with new ones, and topped her off with a fabulous high-end paint job. The only part of the interior that was not replaced were the seats, which I had reupholstered. Everything turned out exactly according to plan, and I’m very happy with the results.
The effort has been well worth it. I enjoy entering the El Camino in car shows and have done well. I stand amazed by how many people take photos, regardless of where I drive it. It’s a lot of fun to cruise in around town, seeing heads turn and the occasional guy who wants to race. My employees are singing a different tune now!