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1966 Chevy El Camino - Handbuilt

This '66 Is A Machinist's Dream

Discovering that the project car you just bought has a ton of plastic filler and several inches of old paint is an experience many hands-on enthusiasts have been through. That doesn't mean most car builders have done what John Bedenbender of Mount Vernon, Texas, did to his '66 El Camino. Look closely and you see that all of the trim has been made satin finish and many parts have been handmade of billet aluminum. That satin finish is accomplished by sanding and hand-finishing. Pot metal turned out to be the most difficult as flaws often did not show up until all the old plating was removed (by hand). Bedenbender went through eight outside mirrors before he was satisfied. John is a mechanical engineer, but he depended on wife Mary Sue for help and design inspiration. The air cleaner, for instance, is the result of building several models before they settled on the final shape.

When John first dragged the car home, he found eight layers of paint (.03 inch thick) and enough rust damage that it required him to use more than 200 body patches. Eventually, Bedenbender made more than 1,000 custom parts, some from aluminum, some from stainless. The "smuggler's box" is an example of a compartment that won't get seen except at shows, yet it is pristine and unique.

While there is no chrome on the car, the machined and customized parts that replaced the bright stuff represents thousands of hours of painstaking handiwork. Even after carving components out of solid stock, Bedenbender massaged each and every one into its finished condition. This is a one-of-a-kind project, and we don't expect to see anything close to it again. It became an instant inductee into Super Chevy Show's Gold Class at its first show, where there was always a huge crowd over, around, and under it trying to take in all the handmade details. Building it was a mammoth task; appreciating it is, too.

Owner John and Mary Sue Bedenbender, Mount Vernon, TX
Vehicle ’66 Chevy El Camino
Engine Chevrolet Gen V 454ci engine, bored .030 over, Edelbrock Performer RPM intake and oval-port 6045 aluminum heads and water pump, COMP Cams 280 HR roller-rocker cam, TRW-forged 10.2:1 pistons, Performance Distributors 29734 HEI, Speed Demon 750-cfm vacuum secondary carb, Fluidamper balancer, Hooker Headers, 2" custom exhaust, Flowmaster 42553 three-chamber mufflers and tailpipes (all exhaust components ceramic coated), Be Cool cross-flow aluminum radiator, Vintage Air Conditioning with Sanden
  compressor, owner-made custom parts include cowl-induction air cleaner, fan shroud, accessory brackets, pulleys, thermostat housing, overflow container, washer barrel, valve cover hold-downs and wire supports, fill, clamps, hose supports, and PCV fitting
Transmission Turbo Hydramatic 400 with 2,800 stall speed TCI Breakaway converter and B&M Megashifter
Rearend '68 Chevelle 12-bolt, Auburn posi, Richmond 3.43:1 gears, Moser axles
Front stock with polyurethane bushings, Hellwig 1" antisway bar, '71 Chevelle 11" front power discs, Moog coils dropped 1", Delco mod. 500 shocks, Wilwood proportioning valve,
  stainless brake lines
Rear '71 Chevelle 7/8" rear antisway bars, Moog coils dropped 1", Delco mod. 500 shocks, boxed control arms, '83 Lincoln 11" discs, '83 El Dorado calipers, custom bearing carriers
Wheels Center Line Billet Star, 15x8 with 5" backspacing, modified to satin finish by owner, hex hubcaps with '62 Impala center emblems
Tires BF Goodrich, radial TA, P255R60-15 front and rear
Body Color Dupont 99S black lacquer
  Painter owner
Interior '88 Eagle Premier bucket seats, modified, black vinyl, black Mercedes carpet, Stewart Warner gauges, Kenwood stereo, Grant 967 Classic steering wheel (modified), owner-built custom console, instrument panel, A/C outlets, tilt column, sill plates, arm rests, control knobs, speaker grilles
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