El Camino Owner's Stories and Strange Sightings
The original owner of a rare '72 GMC Sprint SP-454 had a huge propane tank installed in the bed, and had the engine converted to run gasoline or propane at the flick of a switch. He apparently had a grand dream of literally driving his Sprint around the world, but died mysteriously in 1990 before he could carry out his plans.
Randall B. Hutter writes (concerning his rare 1971 SP-454 GMC Sprint):
Let me first say "thank you", I always wondered what I had. Here's part of the story. The Sprint was purchased by my uncle approx. 20 years ago for a promotional vehicle for his restaurant. It was painted red white and blue and I swear a huge fiberglass rooster on top, yes a rooster, and yes it worked. We drove the auto for many years in the St. Louis area till some one shot the rooster in the head several times at my moms house. Needless to say something had to go. I removed the rooster and took control of the Sprint. Unfortunately I was racing a Nova and the oil pump drive broke and locked the original motor. The motor was replaced with another HP pass engine and finally failed. I started to do a frame up restro almost 7 years ago and lost interest, now revived, thank you.
Wayne Butler of Copperas Cove, Texas writes:
"I'm currently restoring a 1972 El Camino originally purchased new by my brother in Oct 1972. It was the very last '72 El Camino left in a showroom in Louisville, KY. He bought it, drove it all over the U.S. and Canada for a total of 276,000 miles before he retired it in 1989. I got it from him in 1995, however I just began the restoration process in 1998."
Rick Schaefer writes:
"While at U-Tapao Air Base, Thailand (Sept. 1972 - Sept. 1973) [during the Vietnam war], there was a U-2 reconnaissance outfit stationed there also. The U-2 used outrigger wheels at the end of each wing while taxiing and taking off. Once the U-2 got enough speed, the wings developed lift, rose and then the outrigger wheels dropped off.
When it came time to land, the ground crew would run down the runway in a 1968 SS-396 El Camino to "catch" the wing tip before it lost lift and fell to the ground. I think, but I am not sure any more, that someone rode in the bed and secured the wing tip to the elky as the plane and El Camino slowed. At the end of the runway they would stop, replace the outriggers, and use the elky to tow the plane back to a hanger. I do remember that the El Camino was a well worn SS and that it took an amazing amount of co-ordination to recover the aircraft."
Guy Pegues writes:
"I remember watching an El Camino many times while at U-Tapao in '70 and '71. Strange watching an Air Force blue 69 SS race down the runway picking up training wheels!".
"My understanding is there were three of them. They were 350 horse, Turbo Hydramatics, with power steering. All of the normal black-out SS trim was in place, with painted steel wheels, small hub caps, and blue vinyl bench seat. The tops were white, and the body was actually painted USAF blue. All of the normal under-hood chrome was in place.
The U-2 only has fuselage landing gear. The outriggers (pogos) you saw are placed in pockets for ground usage and drop out when the wings have enough lift. Chase vehicles (pick ups) come in from either side and the wings rest on them until the pogos can be installed. U-2 pilots cannot see out of the canopy when they are on the ground, at least not what they need to see while taxiing. There is a periscope that looks forward, beneath the nose and that is what they look through. The El Caminos (now using Camaros) had all of the radio gear that was needed to communicate with the pilot.
If you ever imagined that the engine compartment was full, you should have seen it with two batteries, a humongous alternator, a/c compressor for the Kyzer roof unit, etc. Oh, no power brakes. I'm not so sure about the power steering thing, right now. It may not have had it.
I have a couple of pictures, but they're black and white. I had to keep it clean and ready for use, but got to drive it to fuel it and such. I was stationed on Taiwan at that time, and didn't go to 'Nam until '69. We were based at Bien Hoa.
Thanks for the memories.
Pat Nelson writes:
In 1987-88 my dad obtained the  El Camino and drove it all over Minnesota. In 1991 the engine quit and he vowed to sell it. I was a 9 year old anxious to have such a hot car handed down to me. I begged him to keep it for me, and he said he would. He kept it in a storage facility in St. Paul and there it sat, un-touched, unseen for 6 years. In 1997 true to his word, when I was 15 he took a trip to recieve it. It was in tough shape. We had the engine restored and a new paint job was done. The air-shocks were filled and it looked great again..the day I got a job, the keys were handed to me, and I've had it just about a year now. In a Small city like mine, i'm very recognizable driving down the street. I plan to keep the car until the frame and body are no longer repairable...
Matt Soukup writes:
I have owned my '82 Elk for 4 years now. When I first got it, it was a mess, so I began restoring it. One day, long ago, I was tinkering with the speedometer. I removed the cable to see if my speedometer was working. It worked fine, so I took it out for a test drive. It was working, but it was a bit off. I pulled it back into the garage to check it again, and lo and behold I forgot to screw the cable back in. For some reason beyond my knowledge, the speedometer was working without the cable attached! I think my Elky is magic.
Isaac Swanson writes:
After a night of partying during a severe storm, I returned to my friend's apartment only to find my '85 Choo Choo Custom SS covered in water up to the windshield. The next day I towed it to a friend's garage. Pulling the plugs dumped gallons of water all over. I thought it was a goner. Cranking the engine without the plugs in shot water about ten feet in either direction. After a day of flushing fluids (and many beers), we got it started. That was 30,000 miles ago. Eventually, I had to replace the ECM and tranny, but otherwise, you would never know.
Randy Stephenson writes:
I purchased my 66' Elky from a guy that lived somewhere on the Superstitious Mountains in Arizona. I wanted a 70 1/2 Camaro, but all I could find was junk. I then considered a pick-up and opened the paper to find a 66 El Camino for sale. A truck & a hotrod in one. I drove out and met the guy and looked the car over. The doors, hood and tailgate shut with the profound sound of solidness. I listened to it idle, it had a 3-speed stick in it. I paid for the car and idled it down to highway 60, the main road back to Phoenix. I thought it was time. I straightened the car onto the pavement and decided it was time. I reved it up and dumped the clutch. That was when I discovered the seat wasn't bolted down. Oh what a ride! I bought it in April 1993 and still own this beauty. It now has Muncie 4 speed, 350 w/Torker package. It hauls A**.
Michael Cassidy writes:
I recently purchased a 1984 El Camino SS. My younger cousin asked to borrow it for a date one Saturday evening. He and his fellow volunteer firemen went to a local Denny's restaurant for a late night meal and encountered none other than Mr. John Travolta. Mr. Travolta and his manager were dining discreetly in the back of the restaurant.
Mr Travolta made a connection with them as his new movie "Ladder 49" had just been released in the theater one day prior. He was wearing a "Ladder 49" hat when they met him. He asked that they not make a scene so he could finish his meal. He told them that if he could avoid being seen by the masses he would be glad to chat with them after he finished his meal.
According to the firemen, Mr. Travolta couldn't have been nicer. He autographed their fire shirts. My cousin then asked if he would mind autographing my car. Mr Travolta agreed and accompanied them to the parking lot where he signed my El Camino.
They then took photos with him and a photo of him standing near the signed car. I have since had the signature clear coated to prevent it from fading or washing off.
Four drunks in bean bag chairs playing poker under a patio umbrella in the back of a '66 El Camino, all the while carelessly breathing the Malathion they were spraying on us. Boy those were the days........
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