Robert’s father purchased this 1971 El Camino custom from a friend in August 1972. Robert was only ten months old. The friend was expecting his first child and needed a different vehicle so, fortunately for Robert’s dad, he sold him the El Camino. It would become his dad’s daily driver for almost twenty years!
The 1971 El Camino was used to haul mulch, appliances, and even Robert’s kindergarten neighborhood friends to school (only once because the school frowned upon 6-year-olds riding unattended in the back of a pickup). Along the way, the El Camino was in its share of accidents that would result in new engines, transmissions, and other maintenance.
Robert started driving it in 1999 when he was stationed at the United States Naval Academy as a Company Officer and instructor. The midshipmen have a nifty little song about El Camino’s, but the lyrics can’t be shared in a family friendly article. In 2001, Robert decided to start a frame off restoration which included an LS-1, 4L60E tranny, Baer Brakes and assorted suspension upgrades. Robert’s dad was doing most of the work, but his health and the passing of Robert’s mother kept him from finishing it. At the time, Robert was unable to afford the restoration and storage because he was taking care of his dad.
In 2011, Robert had to sell it, although it broke his heart. However, the buyer was a local man who promised to call him if he ever thought of parting with it. In 2018, he did just that. After completing the restoration, he wanted to move on to another project. It took a couple of months to agree on a price, but Robert was able to bring it back home. Every time he starts it up, he remembers all the rides with his dad to football practices, school events, and nearly twenty years of Christmas tree shopping. Everywhere he goes, he gets smiles and thumbs ups from passing motorists. It’s a special car.
The El Camino sports a 2001 LS-1 with FAST LSX intake and a 92mm throttle body and COMP cam. The Dyno results were 345 hp and 345 lb-ft at the rear wheels. The transmission is a stock 4L60E. Other modifications include Sidetech strong arms and Hotchkis sway bars, as well as, a Dakota Digital dash, Custom Autosound stereo, and Vintage Air a/c. Baer Brakes and Cragar S/S wheels have also been added.
It’s unique for starting out as a Custom and being modified completely to a now finished SS. Robert’s next plan for the ‘71 El Camino is adding new interior door panels. He will definitely be taking it to some local shows and meet ups!