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Restoring A 1971 Chevy El Camino Frame - All The King's Horses

Building A Better '71 El Camino From The Frame Up.

By Mike Harrington, Photography by Mike Harrington

It was a rust bucket when it was first purchased. Years of neglect and sitting under a rain gutter turned this once proud '71 el Camino into a rotting, zombielike corpse. harrison ortis purchased it for $1,200; it was a 454 big-block high school hot rod at the time. Finally, years later the pieces of the puzzle have come together and the el Camino is ready to become a complete car again.

In the February 2007 issue of Super Chevy, the El Camino received a proper coat of paint, and it was recently on the cover of our last issue (March 2007). After the paint job, Harrison pulled the frame out from under the car and sent it off to Corsair Powder Coating in Ontario, California. The frame came back to his shop in a beautiful gloss black, and it was at this point the El Camino crossed our camera's path yet again. While the El Camino may look like a million bucks, it's not a gaudy, bank-breaking vehicle, and it was never meant to be such. For all intents and purposes this '71 Elco is meant to be driven. In the interest of page space, we will jump straight into the process of rebuilding this frame.

Before we go any further, let's take a look at the Master Power brakes. For the front we used PN DB1780PHP, which comes with the following: 12-inch vented, crossdrilled/ slotted rotors, dual-piston aluminum calipers and pads, caliper brackets, 7-inch dual-diaphragm power booster, master cylinder, combination valve kit, spindles, stainless steel brake hoses and brackets, bearings/seals/dust caps, hardware dust shields, and multi-pattern aluminum hubs. The rear brake kit (PN DB1746BHPR) includes the following: 12-inch multi-pattern cross-drilled/slotted vented rotors, aluminum calipers with pads, caliper brackets, brake hoses, parking brake cables, and hardware.

The tires we used in this frame build are Nitto NT555 Extreme ZRs. The NT555 has one of the largest contact patches available, and is made of a specially formulated compound that not only gives amazing traction in dry weather conditions, but also has an extended tread life when compared to some of the other softer-compound tires on the market. The tire size on the back is 255/45ZR18, and the front is 255/50ZR17. Why the wider/taller tire size in front? Nitto assured us that would be the best way to go, but truthfully, we can't see much of a visual difference when compared side by side.

Coy's Wheels Harrison's Restorations
Box 396 Montville
NJ  07045
Performance Online
Master Power Brakes
254-1 Rolling Hills Rd.
NC  28117
Classic Tube
80 Rotech Drive
NY  14086
Nitto Tire
Dept. MM&FF
6261 Katella Ave.
CA  90630
Contact: Michael Proud
26555 Northwestern Hwy.
MI  48034
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By Mike Harrington
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