Welcome to My Wheels, Raymond. That’s a gorgeous fifth-generation Chevrolet El Camino you’ve got there — how did you come across this awesome coupé utility/pick-up?
I found it on the internet about two-and-a-half years ago. It was imported from Texas by an Emirati gentleman about four years ago, he then sold it to a British expat who drove it for about two years before posting it online.
I’ve always liked these but I was open to other cars before buying this. I looked at a 1970 Dodge Charger, a 1966 Pontiac GTO, and I surfed the web looking at others too. What drew me to the El Camino was that it had fuel injection, which is a lot easier to run and maintain in the heat of Dubai compared to carburetted engines.
Nothing beats classic American muscle. You were fortunate enough to have grown up around these cars weren’t you…
Yes, they were everywhere during the Sixties and Seventies in Canada. Cruising was popular and the cars were definitely cool.
My first car was a 1969 Mercury Cougar XR7 convertible. It had a 6.3-litre V8 with a four-barrel carburettor, produced 320bhp, had Cragar SS wheels, and glass-pack mufflers. It had a leather interior, power windows, and power roof with the folding glass window in the back. It was painted Sunfire Red Metallic (a Chrysler colour) and was a really tough car.
That’s such a cool car. You’ve owned a couple of other gems too, tell us about them…
I had a beige 1979 Chevrolet Corvette with the mirrored glass T-Tops and a 1968 Ford Mustang GT/CS California Special; it was dark green with white stripes and had a 4.7-litre V8 with a three-speed manual floor shift. Now, apart for my El Camino I have an alloy grey metallic 2007 Ford Mustang GT Convertible with a five-speed manual gearbox, which I bought new in Dubai, and a 2014 grey Toyota FJ Cruiser — but one of my dream cars would be a 1968 Dodge Charger.
Hopefully it’ll come true soon — and if it does we want to hear from you! Back to the Chevy — did it look this good when you bought it or did it need much restoring?
It pretty much looked like this when I bought it but the black paint — which looks good from a distance — has some imperfections and it is something I’d like to redo in time.
It has a very nice set of 17in American Racing Torque Thrust wheels on Nitto tyres and the underside is powder-coated and the bed liner is sprayed with a Havoline coating.
It doesn’t have the original engine — what happened to it and how is the newer LS1 proving to be?
I’m not sure what happened to the original engine. Choices in 1982 were a 110bhp 3.8-litre V6, a 115bhp 4.4-litre V8, and a 150bhp 5.0-litre V8. I’m not sure which engine this car originally had, but the LS1 engine definitely has more power than any of the originals and is proving to be very strong and reliable. What will need to be done moving forward is improving the rest of the car with a stronger rear end, better brakes, and an improved suspension, but that said it is still so much fun to drive. It really gets up and goes so much so that it ended up costing me a bit of money in repairs once...
Oh dear, what happened?
Well, when it was time to replace the tyres a year-and-a-half ago, my son and I found a remote area and had some fun doing burnouts with the old rubber. It’s very easy to do with LS1 power and a light back end. Unfortunately, the rear axle bearings were not up to the power of the LS1 and needed to be replaced thereafter. That was an expensive lesson for me.
I try and drive it once or twice a week at least. I enjoy cruising in it on a Friday morning or just driving it to the Emirates Training College.
You don’t see too many of these on the road anymore — it must get a lot of attention…
It’s not your run-of-the-mill cookie-cutter car, and therefore yes it does attract interest and attention. My family and friends seem to like it and appreciate that it is somewhat unique and different. I am proud to own this car and what I like best is that it represents utility, but it also oozes style, and has a cool factor. El Camino is Spanish and means “the way” in English. It’s definitely my way now.