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1960 El Camino

How Gene Kendrick Fell Into a Burning Ring of Fire

Photography by Wesley Allison

If '59-'60 Chevy El Caminos aren't on your list of swoopiest pickups of all time, then you're sniffin' glue. After all, bed-ridden rides rarely sport such an excess of fins, chrome, and panache. And few tolerate the hot-rod treatment as well--which is why this '60 made a big impression on Gene Kendrick of Burbank, California.

As a veteran car nut and a longtime member of Burbank's historic Road Kings, Gene has owned over 200 cars--including '55-'57 Chevys and every good year of Corvette--and trucks such as a 392 Hemi-powered F-100 and a Willys with a blown Olds. But this Elco is something Gene describes simply as "a very special car"...not only for its innate Chevy-supplied lines, but for its 348-with-a-four-speed drivetrain. And not just for a unique engine/trans combo, but for the right look. Even from blocks away, it was the stance, the Americans, and the flames that caught our eyes and screamed, "Hey, this is a perfect car for the paint-'n'-body issue!" Gene's the first to admit that this is one car he bought instead of built, but we'll argue that he sure knows how to buy 'em.

Gene's not real big on flames, but even he has to admit that the vintage-looking blaze graphics add big-time flare to an already-standout El Camino. The bright blue pinstriping really makes them pop--too bad we have no idea who did the work. The impossible-to-replace stainless trim has been refurbished for added sparkle.

Inside you'll find a pristine resto dash with the ever-cool stock-type Impala steering wheel and Auto Meter's Monster Tach and oil pressure and temp gauges. The shifter is a Hurst unit, the upholstery is period-perfect tuck 'n'roll, and tunes shriek through Blaupunkt speakers mounted in the ample room behind the seat. The interior window frames have also been chromed.

Sorry, not a 409, but close--its little brother 348 with a rare '61 409 factory aluminum intake under a fresh Edelbrock carb. The remainder of the engine upgrades are dress-up items that gleam in the original paint on the firewall. We dig the stock generator.

The '59s had the cateye taillights, rounder fins, and a different grille treatment, and they are considered more desirable that the twin-taillight '60s. Still, this is a look we can get used to in a hurry. It there anything Gene would like to change about the car? "If I had built the car myself I probably wouldn't have added the flames, and I would have used red steelies and stock hubcaps. But it looks so good now, I wouldn't change a thing." CC

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