Back in the day, the only way to find a car was the local newspaper’s classified ads. The year was 1980 when Stephen found his 1969 El Camino SS 396 in March. He gave it a quick clean up and some fresh paint to make it his daily driver until 1987. Gas prices and the plan to restore it to factory original forced him to store it in the garage until he could start working on it again, late at night after the kids were in bed and asleep.
It was around 1992 when he began the restoration again. The 396 big block was rebuilt using a forged crank with 454 rods for strength. The block was bored .30 over and decked. Once completed, it sat on an engine stand waiting for its new home for several long years. He separated the body from the frame and spent many late nights in the garage using an electric drill with wire wheels, removing 30 years of gunk until it was ready for paint and detailing. He started on the body by trying to eliminate 4 layers of previous paint jobs, first using aircraft paint stripper. When that failed to remove the thick clear coat, he bought an air compressor and spent many hours trying to sandblast the jams and tight areas. This was still not enough.
He found a shop that would blast off all the paint and old body filler, but it exposed much of the previous damage and lousy repair work. He found himself a paint shop that did great metal and paintwork in 2000. The only problem with that was that it took a full year to finish, but the final product was beautiful. Even though the car seems finished, he keeps finding little things to improve on to make it perfect. And his go-to place for these little things is Ground Up SS396.com!