How people find their cars is often as interesting as the restoration process itself. We sometimes hear, "I found it in the paper." Other times it may be, "it sat in my neighbor's garage for 15 years." We've even heard, "my buddy's wife gave it to me just because she was tired of lookin' at the yard art."
Bob Michael had a different story about how he acquired his lil' hauler, it was actually one we hadn't heard before. A few years back a buddy of Bob's came across a '65 El Camino in rough shape, putting it nicely. After a generous amount of persuasion his friend acquired the car for $3,000. While Bob was happy for his pal's new purchase he was slightly envious at the same time. Through an odd turn of events, his friend made an abrupt career change to the east coast, which naturally led the Elco to Bob's front door.
Over the next few months Bob tinkered with the '65, but realizing it was in need of a serious restoration he consulted Ken Koch of Vortex Spray Coatings at the 2001 SEMA show. Before he knew what he had gotten into he was promising a complete restoration in time for the 2002 SEMA show. This would mean 365 days of very intense effort. As a semi-retired muscle car enthusiast, Bob had plenty of time but little experience in the world of restoration.
As luck would have it, Bob made contact with long time SUPER CHEVY contributor Mike Martin of Super Stripes Paint in Henderson, Nevada. With a little luck from his friends at Super Stripes Super Chevy, Bob was able to hook up all the necessary connections to get his '65 back on the road in time for the following year's SEMA show.
Starting with the drivetrain Bob turned to the experts at American Speed in Chicago, Illinois, for little help in upgrading his 327 powerplant. The motor of choice was a 383-stroker boasting AFR aluminum heads, forged rotating assembly and a 200-horse shot of nitrous. Backed by a TH 350 and a 12-bolt this potent power combo pushed Bob's '65 deep into the 11s at well over 125 mph. To stop the '65 at the far side of the track Aerospace disc brakes were used at all four corners hiding behind 17-inch rollers sporting Cooper tires.
After the powertrain was completed Super Stripes founder and master painter Mike Martin went to work on the 36-year-old steel body in preparation for the DuPont Chrome Illusion multi-stage paint scheme. Appearing as seven different colors, Mike would have to block the '65 multiple times to assure a waveless paint job. After the urethane was laid down, the '65 was color sanded and prepped for flames. With the paint complete, all the OE trim was reinstalled and the '65 was sent to Denny Nish interiors for a bit of custom leather and carpet. In addition to the Nish interior, Auto Meter gauges and a billet steering wheel finished off the cabin's comfort.
One year after the deal was struck at SEMA Bob Michael had his '65 back in the Las Vegas Convention Center, 100-percent complete and ready for the booth at Vortex Spray Coatings. While we never got the chance to see Bob's seven-colored-wonder turn the 1320 we imagine that it was truly a flashy sight!
Robert & Diana Michael, Las Vegas, NV
'65 El Camino
383-inch SB, AFR 190 aluminum heads, SCAT 8060 forged crankshaft, Lunati forged rods, TRW 9.4:1 forged pistons, Comp Cams solid roller, Edelbrock Performer intake manifold, Barry Grant Race Demon 750-cfm carburetor, Barry Grant Nitrous Works 200hp nitrous shot, Accel ignition, Hooker headers, Flowmaster 3-inch dual exhaust, 524 hp at 5,800 rpm, 535 ft-lb at 4,200 rpm, assembled by American Speed Enterprises, Chicago, IL (309/764-3601)
GM TH350, Continental 10-inch converter, 3,500 rpm stall
(F) 2-inch dropped spindles, Hotchkis sport springs, Aerospace 10-inch disc brakes, Hotchkis sway bar, urethane bushings, QA1 shocks
(R) Hotchkis upper and lower control arms, sport springs, Aerospace disc brakes, Hotchkis rear sway bar, urethane bushings, QA1 shocks
American Racing Hopster
Seat Source bucket seats, tan leather seating surfaces, Auto Meter instrumentation, LeCarra steering wheel, B&M Street Bandit shifter, interior by Denny Nish Interiors, Las Vegas, NV 702/658-2629)
Glass Tec fiberglass hood, Vortex bed coating, Dupont Chrome Illusion paint, paint and body by Super Stripes, Henderson, NV (702/898-6441)