When it comes to building a hot rod, there are endless avenues to take, build options to choose, and decisions to be made. As magazine editors, we have the opportunity to meet many other diehard Chevrolet fans and check out their cars. The one thing most owners would do if they could go back and do it all over again would be a frame-off restoration. Pulling the body off the frame, cleaning, and in some cases patch-paneling in new sheetmetal seems to top the list of most vehicle builds. Obviously, there are many different aspects to doing a frame-off resto, so we narrowed our focus down to two simple things that can make a big difference--coating the underside and bed on this '71 Chevelle and reinsulating the cab.
After 36 years of road service and some neglect, this El Camino had some rust issues that needed to be addressed. Once the rust was gone, it was decided this El Camino should be given the chance to make it another 36-plus years rust-free. Harrison Ortis, this '71's owner, bought it back in high school for $1,200, and its sentimental value meant it was worth saving. It came from the factory with a 396 big-block, Turbo 400 trans, Rally suspension, heavy-duty tow package, heavy-duty cooling system with A/C, a quick-ratio steering box, 12-bolt rear-end with posi, 392 gears, and a cowl hood. In short, this El Camino was too cool to pass up and now needs to be saved from the elements of time.
Harrison owns his own restoration/performance shop, aptly named Harrisons Restorations, so it was here that the El Co received its new lease on life. Recently, Harrison purchased a Reflex spray-on bedliner system from Langeman Manufacturing. This system heats up and mixes a two-part epoxy material that's spray-applied up to 1/4-inch thick to form a rugged, durable coating generally used as a truck bedliner, but it also works great as a lifetime protective undercoating. We used it in the bed, but we also sprayed the fenderwells, inside the rocker panels, and on the El Camino's underside. Depending on the extent of coverage you go with, expect to spend anywhere from $500-$1,800, and add on a maximum of 35 pounds in the process.