Even here in the centrifugally blown, turbocharged new millennium, the sights and sounds of a big Roots blower intrigue and amaze on demand. Having a huge, jittering apparatus jutting though the hood with a big, fat, unshielded cog belt whipping around making noise is just plain alarming, particularly to the uninitiated. To those in the know, it's still a thrill. Even jaded magazine guys can get caught up in the commotion, like we did when Ron Takabayashi happened to casually pass us headed in the opposite direction on a south-central L.A. boulevard. We'd initially dismissed the approaching chrome and bright paint as a low-rider until that blower came into focus just as the Gilmer belt whined its tune in full Doppler effect as Ron went by.
We whipped around and gave chase, providing Ron with a brief thrill of his own as his rearview was filled with a white Caprice mounted with pushbars and spotlights. The El Camino proved the perfect eye candy; the big polished 6-71, the electric Candy Blue paint, the huge chrome Americans-it looked like a '60s Hot Wheels car come to life . . . and that's just what we needed.
Ron beamed as he gave us the tour, then reached inside, flipped a switch, and dropped the Camino to the pavement, admitting somewhat sheepishly, "I know you guys probably aren't into this, but I wanted it to be low." We can dig the bags-the desire to lay frame has occurred to a few of us before. But we usually wind up spending all our cash on go-fast stuff.
Turns out, Ron is an old speed freak himself, having spent his youth hot-rodding around L.A. starting in the early '70s. His war stories include cruising Van Nuys, running the canyon roads of Mulholland, and even making passes at legendary Lions Dragstrip during its last days. "My first car was a '64 Falcon with a 260/automatic that I converted to a 289 with way too much cam and a four-speed. I thought it was the fastest thing on the road until I ran it at the track and it turned 14s. I was so embarrassed."
He later made up for that episode by campaigning a 9-second '67 big-block Chevelle in Pro Gas during the '90s. But after several years with the tube-chassis car, he realized that competitive track-dedicated rides are costly to maintain and seldom enjoyed. That's when plans for the street machine started forming. "The first thing I bought was the blower before I even knew exactly what I wanted to do," Ron recounted, indicating his priorities for the yet undetermined project car. "I always wanted a blower car for the street."
Not long after, Ron started eyeballing the '65 El Camino parts chaser his brother bought way back in 1980 as a stone-stock daily driver. Ron acquired it in the mid-'80s and gradually made upgrades while using it to run around to swap meets and such. Then, trouble began: "I started getting all these crazy ideas. . . ." The result of those brainstorms lies before you. So Ron gets his blown street machine, but he actually did have other criteria, like requiring the final product to be truly functional and visually stunning without looking like something left over from the '80s. We'd say he pulled it off.
Tech NotesWhat: '65 Chevrolet El CaminoOwner: Ron TakabayashiHometown: Gardena, California, mere blocks from the Car Craft shop
Engine: The four-bolt 454 block came straight out of Compton from someone's backyard. Mike LeFever of MiTech Racing in Fullerton, California, took the mid-'70s casting and created a 496 stroker using an Eagle rotating assembly. MiTech handled both the machining and assembly. The finished long-block makes 9.5:1 with the aluminum Edelbrock heads.
Induction: The engine was built to slide underneath the BDS 8-71 blower, which is underdriven by 5 percent. A pair of Holley 750-cfm double-pumpers sits on top, fed by a BG Fuel Systems mechanical pump.