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The Custom Shop's 1965 Chevy El Camino - Way Low Elco

The Custom Shop's Slammed '65 Is Not Your Average Parts Hauler.

Patrick Hill Dec 1, 2010
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El Camino owners typically have to deal with a certain amount of gruff no matter where they go, or how good their cars are. The stigmas of mullets, empty cans of Busch in the cargo bed, NASCAR stickers, and enough forward suspension rake to make the driver slide out of his seat are tough to break. Anyone trying to build a "cool" Elky has a daunting task on his hands because the car they build has to be impeccable so the old stereotypes can be forgotten.

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Travis Reif's The Custom Shop in Las Vegas, usually deals with tricking out and souping up the latest cars to roll off the assembly lines of today's car companies. But when it came time to build something to show off what the shop could do when it came to building cars, Travis knew it had to be something classic. To him classic cars always turn heads, and he wanted a challenging build that would really test the shop's skills.

An employee at the shop had a '65 El Camino, but needed a more reliable ride, so Travis traded him for the car/truck hybrid. This was in 1999. Once the Elky was in the shop, the stock suspension was ripped out and replaced with airbags in order to slam the car to the ground, and a myriad of modifications to the body and interior cut/welded in to augment the cars sea level stance. After a while though, Travis realized that while all the modifications would look cool, he wouldn't be able to fit his 6 feet 2-inch frame in the downsized passenger compartment of the '65. Early A-body El Caminos were never known for having an abundance of leg and head room, so any subtractions for body modifications made an already small piece of real estate shrivel.

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Travis stepped back and evaluated the situation. To go back and re-work the necessary areas to allow him to fit in the Elky would require a ton of work and man hours. Sometimes you just need to start over from scratch to get back on track. So Travis pulled all the good parts from the car, then lit the torch and began slicing the Elky up like roast. Once finished, he went out and found another '65 to use, this time with a little more restraint on the body modifications.

Once the fresh body was ready, it was wheeled into the paint booth so Christ Shelton at Shelton Designs in Las Vegas could cover the '65 in multiple coats of Tangelo Orange by House of Kolor. After paint and subsequent clearcoat were dry, the body was dropped back onto its refitted frame.

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While the paint process was proceeding, the El Camino's rolling foundation was stripped down, cleaned up, smoothed and painted in the same color as the body. Up front, Hotchkis upper and lower control arms were bolted to 2-inch drop spindles with Wilwood two-piece cross drilled rotors and billet calipers, with Ridetech Shockwave air shocks stuffed in between. Out back, a chrome-plated Chris Alston FAB 9-inch rear with 31-spline Strange axles and 4.11 gears replaced the stock unit. Hotchkis and Ridetech responded again with improving the suspension out back, so Hotchkis trailing arms and adjustable uppers keep the rear stable while Shockwaves cushion and adjust the ride. The whole unit rides on Boss 20x8 wheels wrapped in Nitto rubber.

For motivation, Travis had All Seasons Marine in Boulder City, Nevada, build up a solid 450hp 350 small-block with GM Performance Fast Burn heads, polished aluminum intake with Holley carb, GM Hot Cam kit, and Accel ignition. A March Performance billet accessory drive system hooks everything up to the Mouse's crank, while a freshly built 700-R4 trans sends power to the rear. Exhaust disposals are handled by a set of Hedman full-length ceramic coated Hedders, and similarly ceramic coated 2.5-inch Flowmaster mufflers keep the noise down. To keep the small-block from blowing its top, cooling duties are handled by a Griffin all aluminum radiator.

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Once everything was back together, the Elky was polished up to make its debut at the 2010 Las Vegas Super Chevy Show. Since then, the car has appeared at numerous events to show off the talents of Travis and The Custom Shop, along with getting people to knock off the mullet jokes.



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