Written by independent automotive journalist Steve Magnante
What’s a NASCAR Hall of Famer doing with an El Camino? “I’ve always loved how Chevy combined the comfort of a Chevelle with the utility of a C10 pickup, and in particular, I totally dig the 1966 body style most of all,” says racing legend Rusty Wallace, whose custom 1966 Chevrolet El Camino (Lot #1318) will roll across the auction block in Scottsdale on Saturday, January 20, selling with No Reserve. Here’s another clue: “With the taut suspension and rigid frame, it handles like one of my race cars, no exaggeration.”
Wallace bought the El Camino at Barrett-Jackson a few years ago to use as a basis for a total rebuild. And while the modification process was featured on an episode of Velocity Channel’s “Inside West Coast Customs,” he made sure West Coast honcho Ryan Friedlinghaus and his team weren’t rushed to complete it. “I’m really hung up on making sure gaps and body lines are uniform and as even as possible, and Ryan’s team really got it right,” says Wallace.
The car headed to Kyle Tucker’s Detroit Speed and Engineering, a leading Pro Touring modification shop located in Mooresville, North Carolina – the heart of NASCAR country. There, the stock El Camino chassis was replaced by a completely detailed unit from The Roadster Shop featuring fully boxed side rails, triangulated reinforcements, tubular control arms, rack & pinion steering and Corvette C6-size four-wheel disc brakes. A Ford 9-inch rear axle with 3.34 gears and a carbon-fiber driveshaft work with a fortified 700R4 four-speed automatic with overdrive for a great combination of docile highway cruising and hard acceleration. This ain’t your mama’s El Camino!
And though the box stock Edelbrock Hi-Torq 383 Pro-Flo XT EFI crate engine installed at West Coast Customs was good for 408 horses, it went to Pro Motor Engines for a total blueprinting. The resulting 505 dyno-proven horsepower changed things. Wallace doesn’t mince words: “The damned thing is just fast as hell, but not so wild I can’t drive it anyplace I want.”
Interior features include Dakota Digital gauges, a high-power sound system and a Vintage Air climate-control system.
The West Coast Customs crew nicknamed the car “El Rusty” in a bit of wordplay focused on its owner and model type. The name was even used for the title of the TV episode featuring its initial build. As catchy as it may seem, let’s ignore the reference to oxidation’s damaging impact on steel. There’s nothing rusty about this sleek hauler except for the guy who masterminded its creation – and spent many hours in its cockpit. “It’s the sweetest El Camino I’ve ever owned,” says Wallace.
Now it’s your turn to jump in and enjoy Rusty’s work.
For up-to-date information on this vehicle, click HERE.