The Chevy El Camino — it defies classification. With photos surfacing on the Internet of a supposed reincarnation to be released in 2016, no one knows for sure yet if this truck/car hybrid will be dusted off and brought back to life. What’s been shown so far looks more like a Camaro with a bed, but if it does in fact have the aesthetics we’re seeing and get added to Chevy’s list of retro-inspired rides, only time will tell if it finds favor with the people again almost 30 years after it was discontinued.
People often wonder, though, what it might have looked like if it came out just a year earlier than when it was originally introduced in 1959. Gene Bare probably had those visions as well when he became the owner of a rusty four-door ’58 Nomad that originally belonged to his father. Since the body rot was so substantial, restoring it became a bigger challenge than customizing it. After seeing something similar at the SEMA show, Gene decided to wind the clock back and turn it into a ’58 El Camino. Onlookers might wonder if perhaps he was the lucky owner of some concept car that Chevrolet never released to the public.
Going from the bottom up, the stock frame was powdercoated with the A arms and trailing arms molded and chromed, and the rear arms extended 1 inch. AirMaxxx airbags keep everything suspended and two Optima yellow top batteries keep all the power flowing to two compressors, a 20-gallon tank hidden underneath, and 1/2-inch valves with work done by Gene and Santiago from Krazy Kutting. The stock rearend was shortened to clear the custom-made skirts.
A supercharged LS1 bored .30 over with a larger Comp cam and Edelbrock manifold is tied to a 4L60E to put plenty of power to the 72-spoke Chinas. CPP disc brakes with a chrome booster and master cylinder bring it all to a quick stop. A Griffin aluminum radiator keeps it all cool, while Edelbrock headers spit the fumes into 2 and 1/2-inch exhaust with Flowmaster mufflers.
Gene gave the body some long-overdue love to remove the rusty parts and cut the rear wagon section off to bring it into El Camino status. Trim pieces are difficult to find for ’58 Nomads, so some aftermarket Impala trim was also used. Other parts. such as the back chrome for the tailgate, were sourced elsewhere. The visor came off a Pontiac of similar vintage, while the bed wood was originally intended for a pickup with stainless strips being picked up off eBay.
Since it was originally a four-door wagon, the front doors were extended and back doors welded up. The hood was molded as was the inside of the bed. The car was shot in House of Kolor tangelo over a pink base. The original rear window that opened on the back of the Nomad still opens on the current version of the car. Pinstriping was done by Chavo from Phoenix, while the engraving was handled by Cadillac Jay. All in all, the original designers of the El Camino would’ve been floored by this creation had it appeared back in the day.
Inside, the floorboards were replaced and the dash was molded in. A custom center console sits between ’65 T-Bird seats upholstered in tan leather by Jose Rodriguez and sit on Mercedes tan carpet. Summit digital gauges sit in the center above an ididit column, and a Vintage Air A/C unit. A Pioneer head unit with Phoenix Gold amps, and Rockford Fosgate speakers make it sound as good as it looks.
Gene considers it a finished build, but knows it wouldn’t have been possible without the help of his family. We love seeing radical departures from the norm like this and hope it won’t be the last pie-in-the-sky car where someone wonders what a particular model would look like in a year it was never actually made.
1958 Chevy Nomad
Chevy LS1 has been bored .30 over, HyperTech pistons, Comp Cams camshaft, electric fans, aluminum Griffin radiator, Edelbrock intake, supercharger, Edelbrock headers, Flowmaster exhaust and yellow top Optima batteries
Single piece dash that connects to the center console with Vintage Air and Summit digital gauges. The 1965 Thunderbird seats were stitched with tan leather by Jose Rodriguez.
Airbags with two compressors, a 20-gallon air tank and 0.5-inch air valves. Molded A-arms, rearend shortened by 2 inches on each side, CPP disc brakes and ididit steering column
This 1958 Chevrolet Nomad four-door wagon was cut and made into an El Camino by Gene Bare. House of Kolor tangelo PBC32 paint. Cadillac Jay added engraving.
Pioneer V2 head unit, Phoenix Gold six-channel amp, 6-inch Rockford Fosgate mids and 12-inch Pioneer subwoofers
72-spoke cross-laced Chinas / 275/70/R14 radials
Truck or Car?
Since it’s classified in North America as a truck and has a bed, some would say it’s a truck. Others would disagree because it’s on a passenger car chassis. However you prefer to classify it, the El Camino was introduced in 1959 as Chevy’s answer to Ford’s Ranchero, which was released two years earlier. Although initial sales were promising, the El Camino was discontinued after the 1960 model was produced because orders were dismally low. It was reintroduced again in 1964 on the A-body platform, same as the Chevelle, and even plateaued with the same 454 powerplant until the muscle car era began to die off and smaller, more efficient engines were the new focus. In 1978 it was changed to the G-body platform until it was discontinued in 1987, eight years after the last Ranchero was produced. GMC offered their version, first known as the Sprint in 1971 and the name changed in 1978 to the Caballero. It lasted until the El Camino also ceased production. Concept cars have been created in the ensuing years in an attempt to revitalize interest in the El Camino, but so far nothing has ever been put into production.