Finnegan's Garage Ep.54: Surprise Paintjob and Six-Speed for My Wife's El Camino
- Published: 29 October 2018
- In 2009 my wife and I inherited her grandfather's 1969 Chevy El Camino. It was a dilapidated version of the Malibu with a 350 small-block engine, a factory two-barrel carburetor, a Turbo-350 three-speed transmission, drum brakes and power nothing. There were zero creature comforts including air conditioning. Still, structurally speaking the car was in quite good shape and it held a ton of sentimental value because its been in our family since it was new.
Grandpa Joe's Elco quickly appeared on episodes of Roadkill, first as the car we swapped a new engine into during a snowfall at a Summit Racing store parking lot in Reno, Nevada. Later we raced it against other Roadkill project cars during an autocross shootout involving Jonny Lieberman and Carlos Lago and a Kia. After it was done being Roadkilled, I really got to work on improving all aspects of it.
My friends and I set about the task of making it reliable; My stint on the web show Hot Rod Garage allowed me the time to swap a Chevrolet Performance LS3 and a Gearstar 4L70-E overdrive transmission into the car as well as a new coilover suspension and disc brakes from Ridetech and Wilwood. It took less than a year for this car to morph from being Grandpa's grocery getter into a legitimate autocross terror.
All along, my wife yearned for the car to remind her of her youth, when her Grandpa would pick her up from school in the shiny blue El Camino. She repeatedly asked me to have the car repainted and I refused because I didn't want the car to become so nice that we'd be afraid to drive it anywhere. Over the last 10 years she watched my own project cars progress even staying mum when I went ahead and painted Blasphemi, my '55 Chevy Bel Air. I tell ya, the woman is a saint. Finally, during our last outing in the Elco during the summer of 2017 the transmission died and the car was parked. She was sad but I had a plan; I used the broken transmission as an excuse to hide the car while it was being restored by my friends. The original bumper were straightened and rechromed. The stock body panels were pounded, patched, primed and painted. The interior was dyed and the dash repainted and after 20 years of wearing the wrong color of Earl Schieb paint, it was brought back to its original Glacier Blue glory.
On our wedding anniversary in 2018 we revealed the car to my wife as the ultimate gift and my way of letting her know that what she values matters deeply to me.
This is the video of not only the big reveal of the car but also tips on how to switch over from an automatic transmission to a Tremec manual gearbox using a Silversport Transmissions kit. I think you'll like it.
For more information on the parts used here, visit Silversport Transmissions' website or RUclip channel. The links are here:
and to grab any of the cool Finnegan Speed and Marine swag you spot in the video, visit: fsmgarage.com/
As always there are lots of behind the scenes clips and photos on my various social media outlets. Find me on: