I Know This Maybe A Crazy Idea: 1976-77 Chevy El Cummino

Discussion in 'Other Vehicles' started by 1987 GMC Jimmy, Mar 14, 2017.

  1. 1987 GMC Jimmy

    1987 GMC Jimmy Full Access Member

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    I don't know where to begin on this. This is an idea that's been percolating in my head for a while now, and I revisit it once in a while, but I think I have a full blown fever with it now. One day I was thinking what the next project car or truck that I would seriously pursue is after I had gotten traction with my Jimmy. Well, my free Caprice came along and frame shifted the Jimmy project to where I'm just now back on the horse with it. So everything's going well with that, but there's a problem. I project to be completely done with the Jimmy by the end of August. I know you're never done with them, but I mean looking, feeling, and driving like I envisioned it when I bought it almost two years ago. And that's the problem. I'm not gonna be satisfied with what I have so I'm gonna want more waiting to move up to front and center once I'm done with what I have now, piddling, small add-ons, and general maintenance aside...

    So here's what the vision started out as. I really love the 4th Gen El Camino. It was almost my first car, and that's just one that I've really kicked my own ass over since I didn't buy it five years ago. For someone as relatively young as I am in age and at the whole vintage automotive scene, when I want something, I will go to the end of the earth to see it and hopefully buy it. Great examples of this are me driving to Plano, TX to look at this El Camino (my dad succeeded in talking me out of it; I was two seconds from running to the bank to get the money) and my Jimmy, which I drove to Nashville, TN to see and drove back to buy (I couldn't find a place to withdraw my money before the close of the business day).

    I got off on a tangent. I really love that 73-77 style A Body El Camino because they're not near as common as the final generation Elco, and they don't come with a price tag even similar to a previous generation Elco in fair shape. I am particular to the '76 and '77 because they have the eighties square body look before there was an eighties square body. Plus, the one I almost bought had all the baseline creature comforts (PS, A/C, Cruise). It needed some love, but it was nice. What I didn't care for was the smogged to the max 350 with a two barrel carb. Lame. So what I wanted to do initially is go GM and do a 6.2/6.5 diesel swap. It's interesting and different, but it's work to get something that doesn't really capitalize on how much I like this year and this car. Then I thought more ambitiously and more out there. I asked myself if a 6bt Cummins could work, and I think it can, and that got me really excited. That car is a hefty sum bitch that with some front end upgrades could likely handle the added weight with grace. The rest is pretty much engine swap 101. All of you guys are putting things into other things that came about way later than those original things. It's a craze, I'm seeing the light on this, and I want in.

    So here are the more specific details. What got me stoked about this is that I found a '76 El Camino roller ($1500 - probably offer $1000) that looks to be in good shape not seven hours away like the complete one I almost bought, but only fifty minutes away from the chair where I currently write this in NOLA in Bay St. Louis, MS. Bay St. Louis is about ten-fifteen minutes from my family's second home, and it just so happens that there's enough hangar space to plop an El Camino roller in there until I can get started on it. It may be eighteen months, or it may be three years before I get started, but I want a cheap starting point so I don't get in too far by the time I debut my finished product.

    Here are the specifics that I'm looking at. I want a 6bt for sure. I don't want to do stacks or anything like that. I want it to look like a nice well rounded El Camino with a good paint job, rally sports, etc. The years I was kinda looking at for the motor are like 91-93. I want to go a mechanical, minimally electronic route, and I want it to be intercooled. I'm okay with the VE Pump over the P Pump unless there's something damning about the VE Pump I'm unaware of. For a transmission, it seems that the 47RH is the best way to go, but I should leave the NV4500 on the table. I'm looking for a about 350-400hp on this motor. I don't want to go crazy with it because I want something that's feasible to drive to Sacramento County, CA to see family or to drive to Newport News, VA to look at a battleship or whatever I want to do on a whim. I want to go where I am going in style, in comfort, and in one piece. I'd just like some feedback on what you guys think. This is the only forum I'm affiliated with, and a Cummins swap is fair game to discuss around here. I know this isn't a square body (hence why it's in the forum I placed it in), but I would argue that besides an S-truck, this is as close as it gets to being a square body without actually being one. I'm going to attach videos of the one Elco that I found that's already done this, the pictures of the one I'm looking at, and the look that I'm going for in the end. I hope I wasn't too long winded, and that even if you think this style of El Camino is ugly, or the whole thing is a bad idea, you'll give this some thought and tell my why you think what you're thinking.

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    Last edited: Mar 15, 2017
  2. 1987 GMC Jimmy

    1987 GMC Jimmy Full Access Member

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    Another pic. Guy says interior is complete but needs work and the wiring harness is complete and unhacked.
     

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  3. 1987 GMC Jimmy

    1987 GMC Jimmy Full Access Member

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    Finally, this is the look I'm going for in the end. I think this is a beautiful car. I feel like I have to get on board before they catch on too much.
     

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  4. GTME94

    GTME94 Full Access Member

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    I like the idea. Whenever I go to a car show I'm usually attracted to something different. Even though I like them it seems like everyone has a Camaro or Mustang, Vette or Shoebox Chevy.

    How about a 4BT instead of the 6BT? Save a little weight, not sure how much power they can make.
     
  5. BiggG74

    BiggG74 Full Access Member

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    Hey if it's your passion. Go after it. If not you'll never be complete. But the ideas you have are different but good. Go for it. That's why we're all in this hobby.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  6. 1987 GMC Jimmy

    1987 GMC Jimmy Full Access Member

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    Exactly. I do not like being like everyone else or having things that other people have. I looked into the 4BT, and a lot of people are putting them into compact trucks and compact SUV's it looks. It's powerful and strong while being about 200 or so pounds lighter and more spatially compact than its larger sibling, but the auditory effect and the fact that the 6BT can be done in this particular car are what attract me to it much more. Honestly, the 4BT Cummins sounds exactly like the I4 diesel motor in my dad's Ford 5610 tractor, and while I think it sounds good, I want the meatier, more aggressive sounding 6BT. I also want to add that I may not get this particular car if it's missing something that I want. I do want a factory A/C car, but that's really it. Even if it's missing say cruise control for instance, I could probably still make something work since the factory cruise uses a vacuum servo and Diesel engines don't produce vacuum so they'd be incompatible as far as I know. I could probably still run vacuum assisted brakes with a pump and not have to convert to hydroboost. I don't know if cruise could work that way or not. I know I can run a mechanical speedo somehow. However, lock up and overdrive require electronic mediation on the 47RH, I believe. I want to preserve the El Camino to the point where you can't look at it and tell that it's a diesel, and when you sit in it, it feels like essentially the same car with a few added switches and gauges.
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2017
  7. 1987 GMC Jimmy

    1987 GMC Jimmy Full Access Member

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    You're right about that. It'd probably eat away at me until I could get my foot in the door with the project. I do appreciate the feedback, though, because there's a difference between a feasible dream and a pipe dream, and a collective voice is good at analyzing which of those a proposed undertaking is. Better so than my voice, which is excited and biased towards just going and doing it.
     
  8. Georgeb

    Georgeb Full Access Member

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    I think an Elco with a turbo wistling under the hood will turn heads...... but if it were me....
    In my worthless opinion I would be running a big block. Because......displacement!
     
  9. Georgeb

    Georgeb Full Access Member

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    But seriously, do it. A turbo disel elco will be cool
     
  10. 1987 GMC Jimmy

    1987 GMC Jimmy Full Access Member

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    I have thought about that, too. A built up 454 would be a lot of fun in that car. The acquisition of an El Camino is an inevitable event for me, but I do like hearing alternatives. If something just stonewalled me on the Cummins, I would definitely build a mean 454 and put it in there.
     
  11. 74propu

    74propu Full Access Member

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    I have a 6BT in my dog it has a vac pump on the eng that runs the brake booster and the cruse so that is doable . the frame on the elco is boxed but not fully welded so you would need to seam weld the frame to take the swap better. the week points on the 6BT is the head bolts . you will need to put a set of ARP head studs in it and the turbo is to small. My turbo builder talked me into changing mine out for a bigger turbo off a john deer tractor and holly shit did it wake up my 6BT . So for my 2ct go for it it would be a cool build:gathering:
     
  12. 1987 GMC Jimmy

    1987 GMC Jimmy Full Access Member

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    That's good info. I've also heard about the killer dowel pin, but I imagine that's been fixed in at least some of those 25 year old motors by now.
     
  13. Craig 85

    Craig 85 Full Access Member

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    Here's some motivation. I always liked the 73-77 El Camino 4x4's.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  14. bucket

    bucket Super Moderator Staff Member

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    A 4BT in a Chevette would be awesome too, especially with a T56 or something behind it. A tiny little car that sounds like a tractor, goes like hell and gets great mpg.
     
  15. 1987 GMC Jimmy

    1987 GMC Jimmy Full Access Member

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    That's pretty cool. I like the round eye ones, too, it's just something about the quad headlights...
     

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