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Grandpa's El Camino Grill


Bench Racing

by Ryan King

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Recently, I was able to reach and uncover the El Camino for the first time in years.

In doing so, I discovered the Old Cruck has deteriorated significantly since I saw it last. While I was only able to get to the top-front of it, I found the paint bubbling on the hood and the grill damaged beyond repair. Under the hood, it was even worse. As I mentioned in the review of How to Rebuild and Modify Rochester Quadrajet Carburetors, my Grandfather's Q-Jet is in such bad shape it's going to need a total restoration (see the photo I included last week in the Bench Racing post, "Priorities") — and that wasn't all the degradation I found: virtually every component under the hood is rusted or corroded to shit. This is no longer a vehicle my Grandfather would have driven — even though he owned it for 25 years, the exterior was always kept factory-fresh and the mechanics in perfect running condition.

That's not all the bad news: that was only what I discovered after peeling the car cover back from the hood. I know his custom exhaust system was already marginal when I last saw it — and there was bubbling paint on one of the quarter panels, as well. At this point, the exhaust could be completely rotted-out and that quarter panel might need sectioning rather than sanding.

These revelations aren't changing my priority to fix the El Camino, but the timeframe may have just shot up from months to a year or more and the cost from thousands to more than ten — maybe even multiple years and tens of thousands of dollars if it requires a full-blown restoration.

I was already struggling to find a way to put it back on the road when I was hopeful all I needed to do was secure minimal garage space and use basic hand tools and the limited selection of equipment I already own, but this project may go well beyond that. Now, I have absolutely no clue how I'm going to realistically resolve this dilemma.

I'm infinitely stubborn and hellbent to see it through, though, so I'll just have to bide my time and continue to work the problem until I can come up with a solution.


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