1968 Chevy El Camino
TMI Automotive Products, Inc.
Journey or Destination
Every vehicle that gets built has a story behind it. The route that build takes just lends to the experience of those dog days of sitting at a local show and sharing with complete strangers how your car came to be. The ups, the downs, and the time spent rooting through junkyards only makes that creation story so much richer.
While saying that this 1968 El Camino build started in 1990 is true, for owner Scott VanBurkirk it is not entirely correct. Scott was minding his own business one day, being very El Camino-less, when good friend and original owner Louis Marquez made him an offer he didn’t accept right away. Louis bought the car back in 1982 and drove it until one fateful day 1990 when it went kaput. Louis dismantled the Chevy with intentions of building it back up. 2017 rolled around and Louis had not gotten any further so he offered it to Scott for the low price of nothing. Scott did not immediately accept. It took some convincing from his fellow colleagues at TMI to convince him to take on the project and he finally did.
Scott was employed at TMI as the Purchasing Manager at the time, and as it just so happens SEMA 2017 was just around the corner. So the idea was struck to put the El Camino in high gear and get it out onto the floor of the Las Vegas Convention Center. A full interior transformation was planned with a set of Pro Series Low Back GT seats done up in Perforated Dark Grey Vinyl and Light Grey Vinyl blue stitching, a matching center console, wrapped steering wheel, molded door panels, and dashpad. A custom headliner was created as well as a black carpet kit that had custom blue trim on the outside edge of the floor mats. New glass all around from Original Parts Group and a set gauges from Dakota Digital round out the interior.
The ‘68 was then put onto the fast track to being completed as the plan was to debut it at SEMA 2017. El Caminos are such an iconic vehicle that it made sense to have this one in the TMI booth to show off what can be done to a classic if you have a clear plan of action. Both the project and Scott were lucky that the two came together at the time, or the Chevy might have spent more time unfinished.
Go Fast Stuff
Inside the engine bay beats a 5.3L that has been doctored up a little. It all starts with A FiTech Fuel Injection, Holley Intake, aFe air cleaner, Sultan of Spark LS coils, a three-row dual-pass aluminum radiator from Champion, All American billet serpentine accessory system, a CRF oil pan, Lokar dipsticks for the oil and transmission, as a set of ceramic coated Dougs Headers mated to 2.5-inch Flowmaster mufflers on a custom exhaust system. Power from the 4L60E gets sent back through an Inland Empire Driveline driveshaft mated to a DiffWorks 10-bolt rear.
Putting all that power down to the road is set US Mags Down Draft 18-inch wheels wearing Continental Extreme Contact sport tires. Keeping all that power in check is a four-wheel disc brake conversion kit from The Right Stuff with drilled and slotted rotors, stainless steel lines, CNC machined forged brackets and hardware, with a set of forged aluminum hubs to round out the wheels. To give the Elco that awesome stance are 2-inch drop spindles in the front and Eibach springs in the rear.
Cut and Buff
The exterior for the ’68 received some heavy mods to make it look the way it did, but was so seamless it looks like it came from the factory that way. RnG Customs spent some hours welding in a new roof, shaving the driprails, grafting the firewall and transmission tunnel to fit the new 5.3/4l60E setup, and to repair parts of the floor. Brian Reno was tapped to do the one-piece window mods, assembly work and assistance was given by Brandon VanBuskirk, Bud Dosher, and Don Lee. Raul Zuniga Paint and Body expertly sprayed the Subaru World Rally Blue. Ultimately, it took a massive amount of work and a whole host of people with specialized skills to make this classy mullet look the way it does now. And while it sat for many years, from the time that Scott picked it up and decided to build it for SEMA 2017 was a scant six months. And that included time working on it as the trailer rolled into reserved parking spot inside the TMI display booth.