As you can tell, this is a fairly straight and clean 1985 El Camino (from here on called Elko). It never gave me any big worries at all during the 1680 miles driven from Longview, Texas, to the great Big Apple of New York. I drove slightly less than 850 miles for two days to get home, stopping in Illinois for one night. It used 4 quarts of ATF and three quarts of 20 W 40 engine oil plus one leaking tire I filled every morning. To say I was comfortable with the reliability factor would be a big stretch.

Project El Camino

My DIY for this month is to introduce, to the best of my knowledge, the first bi-monthly Project Car from any magazine dealing only with Chevys. In case you haven’t noted “maxchevy.com is published every other month. (To me “Bi-Monthly” should be twice monthly. A bi-plane has two wings; a bi-valve is a two-valve creature like some mussels. But, enough of my being fussy with terms and words, I just need to give you the facts and let you make of them whatever you want.) Yet, before I get into our new project vehicle, I have to talk about “what is the 1955 Chevy of today?” What was the iconic Chevy muscle car of the '70s, '80s and what is affordable enough for a first time builder?

In my opinion Chevy’s “G” body Cars (1978 to 1988); Malibus, Monte Carlos plus El Caminos are the new best buy chassis for building Chevy hot rods. All of these cars have a perimeter frame that results in a quite rigid vehicle overall and they are light. The advertised weight of the El Camino was just 3,234 lbs.: but with gas and all fluids that gave it a curb weight of 3684, an increase of 450 lbs. I selected the El Camino for my MaxChevy.com project because I knew I could make it lighter than the sedan. In this issue I will introduce the car/truck as it was when purchased, plus a bit of the saga when I drove from East Texas back to New York.


This shows off the front bumper from the side. The tires were 80% new and although the wheels were chrome with a chrome center cover, I knew these were not for me. I need something 17”, Forged and round that would hold on to wheels, eight inches wide in front and ten inch in the back or 15” Rallye wheels with the same wheel widths. I’ll be looking at wheels in the next thirty days. Notice that 90- pound front bumper. The rear one weighed the same

The paperwork I had from the owner showed receipts from an engine rebuilding shop describing it as a “Stock Rebuild 350 Chevy”, bored 0.060” probably with cheap rebuilder parts or refurbished original parts. If you know industry vocabulary you know it used re-ground stock valves with a single sealing angle, reground lifters and a reground cam.