Crazy 1959 Chevy El Camino Build Packs 10.4-Liter V8, Is a Rocket on Wheels

1959 Chevrolet El Camino dragster 10 photos
Photo: Race Your Ride/YouTube
1959 Chevrolet El Camino dragster1959 Chevrolet El Camino dragster1959 Chevrolet El Camino dragster1959 Chevrolet El Camino dragster1959 Chevrolet El Camino dragster1959 Chevrolet El Camino dragster1959 Chevrolet El Camino dragster1959 Chevrolet El Camino dragster1959 Chevrolet El Camino dragster
Chevrolet El Camino dragsters are nothing new. We've seen quite a few of them converted for the drag strip, but this specific 1959 example is unlike any of them. You might not be able to tell at first glance, but it's shorter and narrower than the usual El Camino. It also packs a massive engine under the hood.
This thing started life as a plain-looking El Camino. But the owner, who is a retired welder, spent 18 months transforming it into the beast you're about to see below. The first thing that catches the eye is the bright orange finish of all the parts that used to be chrome from the factory, a solid contrast against the black paint.

Then there's the massive, 10.4-liter big-block V8 under the hood. And it's not just a big mill; we're talking about an all-aluminum, race-spec unit with all sorts of modern components. It's connected to a Powerglide transmission, which routes all the oomph to a nine-inch Ford rear end. The V8 exhales through short exhausts that poke out through the front fenders.

Things become a lot more interesting in the bed, which a chromoly frame also finished in bright orange and carbon-fiber wheel wells. The tailgate has been welded shut for practical reasons. Still, there even more to this El Camino than it meets the eye.

The owner decided to give it a slightly more compact stance. To do that, he cut six inches (152.4) out of the wheelbase and a similar amount out of the sides to make the car narrower. The fact that it's not even noticeable suggests that he did a fine job preserving the El Camino's proportions.

These heavy mods also made the two-door utility much lighter than the standard El Camino. While the factory car tips the scales at a massive 3,750 pounds (1,701 kg), this build comes in at only 2,800 pounds (1,270 kg). Yet, it's lighter than the majority of modern sports cars available right now.

But is it fast? Hell, yeah! The footage below shows the El Camino doing a couple of 1/8-mile runs, both against quicker slingshot dragsters. It doesn't win, but it pulls impressive fast runs at 5.14 and 5.16 seconds, with trap speeds at more than 135 mph (217 kph). It's a shame there's no quarter-mile run, but it should be able to pull low 8s and maybe even a 7.9-second run.

And get this, these are all-motor sprints during which the driver doesn't use the car's nitrous system. So it's safe to assume that the El Camino could cover the 1/8-mile in less than five seconds. "Wow" doesn't even begin to cover it!

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About the author: Ciprian Florea
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Ask Ciprian about cars and he'll reveal an obsession with classics and an annoyance with modern design cues. Read his articles and you'll understand why his ideal SUV is the 1969 Chevrolet K5 Blazer.
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