It’s been said that a family that hot rods together stays together. Well, that couldn’t be truer than for the Light family from Garden Grove, California. Robert and Nadine Light’s son Bob competed in ball-and-stick sports, BMX, and motocross. But most of all, Bob enjoyed doing things with his dad. They were inseparable and embraced many hobbies together from fishing, model cars, slot cars, to flying model airplanes and, of course, cars. In his teen years Bob learned a lot from his dad wrenching on cars.
After high school, Bob married his childhood sweetheart, Darlene, and bought a house across the street from his parents. In 2010, Bob’s mom passed away, and Pop went through a period of zero motivation until one day he told Bob and Darlene he had always wanted an El Camino. That was the answer to getting Pop out of his depression, so he and Bob would find an El Camino and restore it.
Bob and his dad researched El Caminos on the Internet, strolled through swap meets and kept their eyes peeled at car shows. After checking out many advertised El Caminos, they came across a ’64 El Camino in Lakewood, California. The El Camino was a shinny Aquamarine Blue with a set of American Racing polished aluminum Torq-Thrust II wheels with a 327 and an M21 manual four-speed transmission under the hood.
Sadly, Pops passed away last year, but on the bright side, Bob still has Pop’s El Camino to cherish and reminisce. The front suspension is comprised of GM upper and lower control arms, a pair of 2inch dropped spindles, and a pair of KYB Gasa-just shocks. A 1inch diameter sway bar was installed flattening any corners. This combination lowered the Camino’s nose 3.5 inches. For braking, there’s a pair of 1969 Chevelle front discs with GM Delco single-piston calipers and 10.5inch rotors. Out back, long factory trailing arms anchor a GM 8.2 10bolt rearend with 3.73:1 gears and posi. Cutting one coil out of the coil springs dropped the rear 1.5 inches and produced a slight forward rake. Due to the lighter back half, the factory rear drum brakes produced ample stopping power.
For wheels and tires, a set of American Racing polished aluminum Torq-Thrust IIs are wrapped in Falken ZE502 215/45ZR17 front and 245/45ZR17 in the rear.
The original ’64 283-inch engine was yanked to make room for a ’69 Chevelle 350-inch V-8 small-block. The 350 was delivered to Mark Rapp, owner of Rapp Racing Engines in Huntington Beach, California. There it was disassembled, cleaned, machined, balanced, and reassembled. It was machined and bored 4.040 and stroked 3.48 to 355 cubes. A GM 350 crankshaft was fitted with Hbeam connecting rods and Race Tec aluminum pistons. For valvetrain, a COMP hydraulic cam with 0.510/0.520-inch lift and 230/236-degree duration was carefully inserted along with COMP Cams pushrods and hydraulic roller lifters. A pair of Trick Flow Twisted aluminum cylinder heads are held in place using ARP fasteners and capped with a pair of Edelbrock Elite polished aluminum finned valve covers and breathers. A Holley electric fuel pump draws from an 18gallon fuel tank. For carburetion, an Edelbrock Performer RPM AirGap polished aluminum intake manifold holds a Holley 4150 Street HP fourbarrel 750-cfm carburetor fitted with an Edelbrock Elite polished aluminum fined air cleaner and K&N air filter. A Milodon oil pump was installed before bolting on the 5quart GM steel oil pan. To achieve plenty of coolant flow, a chrome Tuff Stuff Performance high-volume water pump was installed along with a GM fourrow radiator and a Flexalite electric fan. To maintain substantial electrical amperage, a GM 80-amp chrome alternator was installed with a March billet aluminum pulley kit. A Summit HEI billet aluminum distributor and coil were linked to the spark plugs by a set of black MSD 8.8 ignition wires.
A pair of Hedman long-tube, ceramic-coated headers with 1 5⁄8inch diameter primary tubes and 3inch diameter collectors were bolted up to a pair of Flowmaster 2 1⁄2inch diameter stainless steel cross-over exhaust that flow into a pair of Flowmaster 40 series mufflers. After breaking in the mighty 355 on the Rapp Racing engine dyno, a couple of pulls were made to see what kind of numbers it was capable of achieving. When all was said and done, it produced 525 horsepower at 6,700 rpm. A GM M21 manual fourspeed transmission was disassembled and replenished with all-new internal components at KBL Transmission in Huntington Beach, California. A McLeod 10.5 diameter Super Pro Street clutch disc and McLeod pressure plate were bolted to the flywheel then encased inside the GM bellhousing. The factory ’64 El Camino driveshaft received new Ujoints before linking the transmission output shaft to the rearend housing.
The Aquamarine Blue paint was by South Coast Paint & Body, in Bellflower, California, back in 1995. After the Lights bought the El Camino, a new front bumper, amber turn indicator lenses, grille, and headlight rings were bolted on. All of the original moldings, emblems, and badges were chrome-plated or polished. Next up, the interior was detailed. The original bench seat was re-covered 20 years ago at Eddie & Son Upholstery in Bellflower, California, and still looks great today.
Bob is an active member in the SoCal Chevelle El Camino Club. He and Darlene cruise the ’64 Elkie to weekly cruise nights and weekend car shows all the time knowing Pop is cruisin’ with them wherever they go.