El Meano: ’69 El Camino

A ’69 El Camino that’s got as much “show” as it has “go”

Frank Swobodzien • Apopka FL    Photography by Colin Date

This ’69 El Camino was a five-year project that tested my patience and commitment to the auto restoration hobby. I purchased the body from the owner in Nevada in 2005. The intention was to build a pro-street truck unlike all the others seen at car shows. Even though I own seven cars (all Chevy products), I wanted something different. Something I could build without all the high tech electronics, something like we did when we were teenagers.


I own an auto repair shop– Central Florida Auto Repair– so I was willing to take on the task of modifying the Elco as I had envisioned. The first thing I did when I received the truck was to evaluate the body, as it was claimed to be very rust free and solid. The engine, transmission and rear end were removed, and the interior was removed along with all the glass and moldings. The first task was to “back half” the rear of the car to accept the wide tires I planned to use. I purchased a Pro setup rear frame kit from Chassis Engineering to build the rear section. Forty-inch tubs were installed and a roll cage was made. A unique approach was to hide the rear frame support bars that would normally go through the back window area on this truck. I ended up hiding them in the bed area. The original frame was braced as well to guard against flex and twist due to this modification.


The truck was ready to go to paint late in 2006, and this was when things really slowed down. I waited one year to get the El Camino into a friend’s body shop. The body and metal chassis work was bare and could not get exposed to moisture. After much delay (about two years), rust was now all over the bare metal. I had to move the car to another shop for body repair. After another year of clean up, in December of 2009, John at Pro Tree Kustoms was up to the paint and bodywork. He was more than happy to help me out after he heard about my delays and rust problems.

I continued the build on the 468 ci big block that was to be put into the car. A full manual Turbo 400 transmission with a billet 3500 Force Technologies stall converter was in order to support the power this truck would produce. It is backed up with a nodular NASCAR 9-inch rear with 3.90 gears. The design was to be “old school”, so it is fed by a pair of custom built 835 cfm Holley carbs sitting on top of a Weiand 8:71 blower; driven at 13.5 psi. Firing it is an all Mallory ignition. A 250 gph pump, boost referenced fuel regulator and a 19 gallon fuel cell keeps it cruising with minimal stops. This ’69 El Camino is street friendly and driven. I nicknamed the truck “El Meano”

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Pro Tree Kustoms applied the custom-mixed Maui Sunset paint to the super straight, all steel body that they had massaged to perfection. In October of 2011, “El Meano” made its debut at the Daytona Dream Cruise. It rides on Weld Rod Lite aluminum rims: 15x15 rears and 15x14 fronts. Rubber is Mickey Thompson Sportsman Pro Tires, 29x18.5 rears and 29x4 fronts. To keep with the old school theme, the front suspension is all rebuilt with stock parts except the two-inch drop spindles and one-inch drop springs. Stopping power is provided by all new Chevelle front disc brakes and 11-inch rear drums. The rear is coil over adjustable shocks due to the frame modifications. El Meano features a sliding back window and a custom black vinyl tonneau cover. Chrome Competition Wheelie bars finish the look out back. Interior is simple and safety-minded with Corbeau Race seats wrapped in black cloth and vinyl with RCI 5 point harnesses. The dash continues the old school theme with all Stewart Warner gauges mounted to a Covan carbon fiber dash.

“El Meano” is street legal and a rush to hear and drive. I have wanted a car like this since I was young and now have the joy of building and owning one. The attention and praises I get with it at shows makes it all worthwhile. This is what the car hobby is about–enjoyment and driving what you own.