1959 Chevy El Camino - Fast Fins

'59 El Camino

Bob Ryder
Apr 8, 2008
Photographers: Joseph Dowling
Photo 2/11   |   1959 Chevy El Camino right Side View
As a kid, Ronny Young from Wylie, Texas, always saw a guy cruising the boulevard in a '59 El Camino. Its unique horizontal rear fins, cat-eye taillights, and contour/convex body lines made it look like something out of a Buck Rogers or Captain Marvel comic strip. That finned image was forever embedded in Ronny's temporal lobe. While his growing attraction to cool, fast cars became more prevalent, he was hooked. During his high school years, he began twistin' wrenches and spinnin' tires off his teenage hot rods. He was a compulsive speed freak transforming into a drag-racing addict, back when drag racing was fun and affordable during the '70s. He worked at Chaparral Trailers during the week and raced on the weekends. He began piloting funny cars for different race teams, including Gary Sharpe and Raymond Beatle, to name a couple. He finally hung up his helmet following a furious fire at 280 mph driving the Wizard funny car 2000. In 1994 Ronny began his own business, Performax Trailers in Wylie and the company has evolved into constructing enclosed trailers (semi, stacker, gooseneck, fifth wheel, and tagalong).
Photo 3/11   |   1959 Chevy El Camino front Left View
After discovering a '59 El Co, Ronny flashed back to his childhood dream machine rolling down the boulevard. His current visionary mind captured the El Co's fins laying low in pro-street trim.

Photo 4/11   |   1959 Chevy El Camino hoosier Tires
The El Camino was built at Performax Trailers by Ronny and friends, Darrall Howard and Aaron Morrow. Its factory sub-frame was modified and reenforced to handle 425 hp. The front end was dropped by installing a pair of 2-inch drop spindles and shorter springs. The rear end was lowered with shorter progressive coil springs, the '59-'60 fullsize cars and El Caminos were suspended with coilover springs up front and trailing arms and coilover springs in the rear. The Air Ride Technologies pneumatic springs allow the ride height to be lowered or raised by the push of a button. The El Co rolls on a set of American Torque Thrust II polished aluminum wheels, sized 15x7 inches in the front and 15x15 inches rear, which are consumed in 225/40R15 front and 31x16.5x15 baloneys in the rear.
Photo 5/11   |   1959 Chevy El Camino custom Bed
The engine was pulled apart and rebuilt by Dave Plubell. The 409ci engine was machined .030 inches over. A Crane camshaft was inserted, along with Crane push rods, hydraulic lifters, the 690 heads received a set of Crane performance valves and springs with Crane 1.75 roller rockers. The stock 409 crankshaft was ground .030 inches over. The connecting rods were magna-fluxed, inspected, then shot peened. A set of eight Ross pistons and rings were wrist pinned and C-clipped to the small end of the connecting rods and then they were carefully slid into the cylinders and connected to the crankshaft.

Photo 6/11   |   1959 Chevy El Camino rear Right View
A pair of Edelbrock 600cfm four-barrel carburetors distribute the air/fuel mixture evenly from the intake plenum into the runners and 690 cylinder head's intake ports. The burnt exhaust gasses exit into a pair of Hooker block-hugger long-tube headers that merge into a pair of Flowmaster mufflers. A McLeod multi two-disc clutch was bolted onto the 153-tooth flywheel that hooks up the power to the serious Lenco four-speed ST1200 style manual transmission, with a set of pull-pull sure-shift levers that are guaranteed to snap your neck with every shift.
Photo 7/11   |   1959 Chevy El Camino edelbrock Carburetor
Ronny found that body parts, especially moldings, grille, eyebrows, headlight bezels, and one-piece bumpers were hard to find. Also, when he found parts, they weren't cheap. Ronny trailerd the El Co over to Aero Finish in Wylie, where Marcus and Dewayne Spence spent many days and hours patching, straightening, filling, block-sanding, and smoothing the El Co's entire skin surface. After the body was prepped, it was then wiped down and sprayed with four coats of PPG Fire Mist Orange. After finding out how much factory stainless steel moldings would cost, Ronny had one of the best airbrush artists, Rodney Hutchinson at Total Kaos in Houston, Texas, airbrush some incredible three-dementional body molding and emblem graphics. The bed floor was covered in blonde Kaboom veneer, then received orange tint to match the body color.
Photo 8/11   |   1959 Chevy El Camino interior View
Craig Ward from Forever, Texas, is responsible for the immaculate interior featuring a custom leather center console housing the Lenco shifters. A pair of fawn-leather low-back bucket seats were mounted atop the soft pile carpet. Handmade door panels were embossed and covered in matching leather. Dakota Digital gauges were installed inside the unique factory gauge bezels. The AM/FM radio/cassette was refurbished and still works. The flip-down ashtray exposes the Air Ride Technologies switch panel with digital air pressure gauges. A chromed ididit tilt steering column is capped by a 14-inch leather-covered Billet Specialties Revolver steering wheel. The interior's creature comfort climate is maintained by a Vintage Air system. A Ron Francis wiring harness links all the electronic components and ignition.
After spending many years in the drag racing ranks and pedaling a variety of funny cars, Ronny can still get a feel for those glory days rolling in his pro-street El Co, but without the smell and burning eyes from nitro.



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