June 2016

1967 El Camino: Dream Becomes Reality

Owned by: Warren Sutton Olive Branch, MS

This once worn out ’67 El Camino was transformed into a 993 point show car!

1967-El-Camino
Since high school, I had longed for two things. A 1957 Chevy convertible was number one and number two was an El Camino. The ’57 Chevy came first, and the search for an El Camino came later. I started with a ’71 then sold it and bought a ’77, then ’80 SS. My desire still had not been fulfilled, much to my disappointment. The sun did shine on me however the day I stood looking at this ’67. My heart skipped a few beats when it dawned on me that this car had a lot of potential. After much discussion with my wife regarding my vision for purchasing this El Camino and doing a restoration, the car became a reality. That was in April of 2006.

1967-El-Camino-rear-view
After doing some research, I picked my colors for a new paint job and designed the interior to complement the exterior. This old, rather beat-up El Camino became the vehicle I’d always wanted. A lot of work, time, and money eventually brought out the true beauty of this dream.

1967-El-Camino-interiorTime began to slip away quickly from the time restoration began until its completion. Patience began to grow thin, and eventually impatience took over. Originally, the builder lived only 2 miles from our house. However, the car ended up 200 miles from us after my restoration man moved. Seven years passed by and the El Camino was still not completed. The body was painted but no other cosmetic work had been done. Finally, the decision was made to move the car back home. Thanks to several knowledgeable friends who came to my assistance, we finished our beauty 2 years later. Then the day came when I could back it off the trailer at Eckler’s 2016 Winter National in Orlando, Florida. It scored 993 points out of 1000 at this show, which made all the ups and downs worth it!

1967-El-Camino-engine
Some special features on this 1967 El Camino include:

  • The paint is a deep maroon on top and champagne at the bottom with special striping separating the colors (which also include some Chevy bowties).
  • The interior was completely replaced. It has a 1958 Impala steering wheel, which was painted with exterior colors.
  • The dash instrument panel was replaced with Dakota gauges. The interior was done in a light and dark beige with brown carpet.
  • The power plant is a 454 cube big-block with a roller hydraulic cam. It has a 700-R4 overdrive tranny. Under the hood there are many chrome parts and stainless braided hoses. We also installed a serpentine belt system.

Special thanks to Rob Cox and Lester Foreman for all their help in getting the car “show ready”.

My dream to get this beautiful ’67 El Camino has brought many smiles and taught me lots of patience. Amen, “Thank You Lord!”

Rockin’ Down the Highway

Colin-Date-head-shotIt’s funny sometimes how ideas for this column just pop into my brain. Writing my View typically means the magazine is just about wrapped up. All the stories are in, artwork layouts are being finalized and ads are in place. Whew. So, when I’m satisfied the guts of the issue are put to bed, it’s time for me to start rattling the keyboard. What shall we talk about this time ’round? I’ve had my ear buds in for the past half hour and what comes on the iPod? The Doobie Brothers’ “Rockin’ Down The Highway”. A driving song if there ever was one! This particular tune has almost landed me in hot water a few times – it just makes me want to downshift and peg the pedal hard against the floorboard. I’m typing away here – the Doobies’ tune has come to an end, and what’s next on the playlist? The Doors – “Riders On The Storm”. Haunting, to say the least. This one sounds best on a lonely highway at sundown, storm clouds roiling overhead.

It’s amazing how huge a role music plays in our classic car hobby. Listening to Elvis through that tinny 6” dash speaker while cruisin’ ’round the block in your Tri-5, or filling the cockpit with Sammy Hagar’s “I Can’t Drive 55” on some wide open stretch of Interstate – the tunes set the mood, big time!

How about car shows? Ever been to one where there’s no music blaring through the loudspeakers? Neither have I. The songs that have been written over the years about cars and driving are too numerous to count! Jan and Dean and The Beach Boys certainly focused their efforts on the road tunes. Oh, here we go – The Eagles’ “Hotel California” just started – that ominous beat coming through my ear buds. As you can imagine, I’ve got a huge “car/road” collection of songs on my iPod. Little Old Lady From Pasadena, 409, Little Deuce Couple, Hot Rod Lincoln – all perennial favs.

The best moments (for me, anyway) come from matching the music to the moment. I took a ride (not as the driver – bummer) in a ’62 Impala SS about 10 years ago. The owner had “409” pumping out of his beefy aftermarket sound system. And yes, that big Chevy happened to sport a 409 under the hood. It was an incredible moment for me and still sticks in my brain. Heck, sometimes it doesn’t even have to be music. I used to love listening to afternoon ball games on the little Sonomatic AM radio in my ’69 Buick. Single dash speaker, kind of crackly, just set the mood – good times indeed.

Like drive-in movie theaters and old time burger joints, music in our cars tugs us (sometimes not so gently) back into days gone by. And sometimes, that’s just where we want to go. Would love to hear your thoughts here. Tell us a great story – some magical moment that linked a song to your car or road trip – an indelible slice of time. I can’t wait to hear it! colin.date@ecklers.net

OK, onto this issue of our magazine. The part you’ve all been dying to see – full coverage of this past February’s Winter National in Orlando – all 10 pages of it –begins on page 6. Is your ride there? Next up is a black ’57 Chevy that is driven and raced, everywhere! Check out this awesome classic on page 16. After that, some Reader’s Rides – a ’55 Chevy, a ’71 Chevelle, and four – count ’em – four ’57s!

The centerfold spot this month belongs to Warren Sutton’s beautiful ’67 El Camino, and I think you agree – this is one clean, nicely modified car. Er, truck. Er, car…

Our tech centers around the ins and outs of quarter panel replacement. Watch how it’s done on this ’56 Two-Ten. Hopefully this story will take some of the trepidation out of tackling this job yourself.

A newer, periodic feature we have in Chevy Classics is “Future Collectible”. This month, you’ll find a piece on the 1996 Caprice. It may not be that old now, but give it time!

There’s an update on our Project ’55 on pages 38 and 39. That car heads to the body shop for some serious sheet metal scrutiny. Watch the action as Stan’s Cocoa Corvette’s shop gets busy on this Bel Air.

I hope you enjoy this issue as much as we did putting it all together. Don’t forget – let’s hear some great music-in-your-ride type stories!

Colin

May 2016

The Replacement

Sometimes good comes from bad, as evidenced by this stunning ’55 Two-Ten.

55-Chevy

As a teenager growing up, I was always around cars. My daddy was a car salesman and one of my uncles ran a junkyard. Through the years, I had a ’56, ’57, and ’58 Chevy. I always wanted a ’55, but never had one.

When I retired in 2010, I sort of got serious in my desire to have a ’55 Chevy. I was at a car show with my ’36 Chevy street rod one day where I met a man who was driving a nice ’55. He told me that he had another one at home that he might be willing to part with. I had already been doing some talking with my friend Victor Pille and his son, Austin about building a ’55. Victor worked for a Chevy dealership, plus he had a shop at his home where he had restored several other cars for himself and other people. I had gone down and taken photos of the ’55 that was for sale – it was rough, but not beyond a restoration. Well, even though my wife said “no way”, I bought the car anyways and it went to Victor’s shop for the work to begin.

55-Chevy-rear

It took 2-1/2 years, but it came out nice – you might say it came out too nice. My wife and I were with some friends at a show in Newport, TN on June 21st, 2014 when the car was stolen from the motel parking lot in the middle of the night. It was painted orange and white, which are the Tennessee colors. Talk about sick? It tore us up! But we decided that we would use the insurance claim money and get ourselves another ’55.

55-interiorThe shop in South Carolina that had done the interior of the stolen car also built complete cars. The owner, Dan Wickett, called me after he heard about ours being stolen. He told me he had a ’55 Two-Ten (same as the stolen car) that he was building for someone, but the customer was having second thoughts and was thinking about selling it. The car already had about 50% of the bodywork done, and a lot of the mechanical work had been completed. The firewall and frame had been painted, but we didn’t like the color. The man who owned the car had already purchased a bunch of parts – tires, wheels, glass, and the list goes on and on. A lot of his choices did not match my likings. After plenty of haggling back and forth on price, I bought the car and then made a deal with Dan to finish the restoration. As luck would have it, this was the next car in line to be completed! As I said, a lot of the building process was already well underway or done. But that was about to change…

engineWe were watching a Barrett-Jackson auction on TV when they ran a Corvette across the block. My wife loved the paint color. “That’s the color we want!”, she said. I looked online, found the color and the process began for “The Replacement”.

The body had to be pulled back off the frame, the engine removed, transmission, brake assembly, etc., so they could all be painted Atomic orange (to suit my wife). We also needed to pick a contrast for the two-tone, which wound up being Silver Champagne, thanks to Travis Kiel in Dan’s shop.

The next step was the interior design and colors. I stepped aside and turned the wife loose. Dan Wickett pulled out samples of headliner, seats, door panels and carpet which he thought would blend well and “tie it all in” with the paint.

55-wheelThings were going well until October 30th, 2014 when I suffered a cardiac arrest. Medics had to shock me with a defibrillator seven times to bring me back to life. After several weeks in the ICU, I was finally responsive enough to ask what was going on with the car. Well, my good friend Victor Pille had talked with my wife regarding the car while I was unresponsive and on the ventilator. Victor suggested, “How about if you just let me sort of take over and let’s keep Dan working on the car.” If it were not for Victor, this car probably would not be on the road today. He has done a list of work on mechanical issues since we brought it home.

This is a “driven” car, not trailered. Some of the participants and spectators thought we had been placed in the wrong class at Chevy Classics’ Winter National. We traveled with our friends to Bowling Green, KY last August for the Tri-Five Nationals and now Colin Date has found us with our friends again here in Orlando, FL.

I am running an LS-1 engine with a small cam. On the dyno she turned 340 horsepower at the rear wheels with a 4L60E transmission and 3.73 gear rear end. The car is equipped with a Wilwood 4 wheel disc brake system with Hydroboost. She runs on Michelin tires and Coy C-57 black chrome wheels – 18×7 on front and 18×9.5 out back. Our car has a custom ultra leather interior with power bucket seats and a center console with a Lokar shifter, Kenwood stereo, Vintage Air controls and power window switches.

We were thrilled to have been awarded the 1st place Custom ’55 with 996 points. We hope to be back to the Eckler’s Winter National next year and have many more shows lined up between now and then.