I bought an 86 El Camino a few months ago. It runs and drives, but the (broken) odometer reads 164k. There is significant rocker/quarter rust but (shockingly) the frame is ridiculously clean with zero flakes.
Time for a 6.0L LS truck engine and T56. Then give it some road race suspension and some hot paint. I have this T56 sitting around from an S10 project I parted out. It had synchro trouble in 2nd and 5th so I took it to rkt56.com and treated it to a comprehensive upgrade. Then I got it home and went to work with 100-grit sandpaper, a scotchbrite disc, and a wire wheel. Then I primed and painted it graphite metallic.
It took a while to get all the parts sorted out: The truck front spindles required some reworking to fit. I modified the lower control arms to use the press-in truck ball joint, and used an off-the-shelf race-type tubular control arm for the upper. I knew it was temporary but it at least got it together. The GVOD required much more banging and cutting than I had anticipated since my Pontiac was delivered with the medium-length tailshaft. In hindsight I should have just converted it to a short shaft and saved myself the headache.
Here she is on the way to get a new 2.5" dual exhaust and a PA state inspection along with a detail of the upper control arm.
I had always hoped to use this boat as a light-medium tow rig. At the time I owned a 1995 F250 powerstroke and loved the 7.3L. My first thought was to drop in a 'stroke but the physical size would have meant valve covers, turbo, and intake all sticking out through the hood.
Instead I settled on a Caddy 500 that was built to pull like a diesel. It was a good build with ported heads, MT3 (tiny) cam and 8.7:1 compression. I had Jet build a sweet Qjet for it and had the TH400 rebuilt. I also ponied up the cash for a Gear Vendors OD.
Not able to leave well enough alone, I knew the Factory 8.2" rear with 2.93 gears wasn't going to cut it. I set out to snag a B-body 12-bolt, but have you seen how much people are getting for those??? Nuts. So I went to a truck junkyard and decided to settle for a truck 12-bolt onto which I could weld the brackets for the trailing arm bushings.
While at the 'yard, the guy kinda gave me a funny look and said, "hang on." He disappeared down through the yard with a forklift and returned with a 10.5" FF 14-bolt. He said, "measure that." Sure enough, the specs were spot on. The backing plates clear the frame by about 3/4" and with standard offset wheels the 235mm tires cleared the fenders by about 1/2"
Then the quest was to get 8-lugs up front as well. That was a long road, including modifying some 3/4 ton spindles and fabricating some upper control arms, but it made it. So now it has 8-lugs all around, and HD brakes and running gear. That also let me use off-the-shelf brake parts for a properly supplied system. My homework paid off - braking is excellent.
The first thing I did was replace the fuel pump and got it running. It had been sitting for about a decade. After tires, oil change, and general tune-up it roared to life... literally, since the exhaust had fallen off.
Prior to replacing the fuel pump I almost reduced the whole thing to ashes. We just HAD to get it to fire so we poured some gas into a Budweiser can, then drizzled some into the throats of the Carter. Of course, we had already had about 10 of those cans to drink. Well, the inevitable happened; a backfire through the carb ignited the gas in the Bud can. My buddy wisely tossed the can leaving a trail of gasoline across the intake, over the radiator support, and out into the driveway. Take it from me: a good fire extinguisher is a garage necessity.
I couldn't ever get it to run well which I was able to attribute to low compression in one cylinder and poor valve sealing. I used that as an opportunity to have the shortblock remanufactured and slapped on a pair of milled 6X heads to get the compression in check. I also put on an Edelbrock 600 I had sitting around and some NOS M/T valve covers.
The day after I finished putting it all back in, I drove it 1800 miles from PA to FL and was rewarded with 18 mpg (thanks in part to the horrifically lean secondaries)