My Classic Car: Richard Whitehead’s ’59 El Camino

Photos courtesy of Richard Whitehead
Photos courtesy of Richard Whitehead

Last year I imported into Australia an ELKY,  which I can claim would be one of if not the best Elky worldwide.

My friend Willi Maul, a former Mercedes-Benz dealer in Los Angeles, had been looking for a couple of years to find me the right car. He found it in Florida, where it was owned and restored by Al Burzo, a retired police chief from New York. The restoration was a three-year process completed in 2007 after completely stripping it with a body-off- restoration. Many desirable modifications also were carried out, including a new Impala interior, air conditioning, disc front brakes, power seat adjustment, R700 transmission, power windows.

The original 348 motor with tri carbies was completely reconditioned.

This 1959 El Camino has traveled 10,000 trouble-free miles.

whitehead4It had a substantial show history in the United States, including first place in the annual national winter convention in 2007, 2008 and 2009. It has gained three platinum certificates already here in Australia, where the general public has never seen a ’59 Elky (there are maybe six or eight total here) and thinks it was converted from an Impala station wagon.

I was fortunate that when I purchased “Black Beauty.” Our Aussie dollar was doing well vs. the U.S. dollar. As you guys probably know, there was a great influx of U.S. classics here at the time, but that will slow down. Today, our dollar is worth only 89 U.S. cents.

Up until about 2 years ago, left-hand drive cars were not allowed on our roads and could not be registered. This law has been amended. Left- hand drive is allowed, providing the car is at least 30 years old.

Cars that were imported from the U.S prior to this change had to be converted from left to right-hand drive — at a cost of at least $10,000!

I have been told by my dealer friend in Los Angeles that the day will come when many of our top U.S cars will be re-purchased by the Yanks and returned to America.

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One thought on “My Classic Car: Richard Whitehead’s ’59 El Camino”

  1. Great looking ’59 Elky. Had a ’59 convertible with the 348 motor. Love to see those flags on the hood ornament. Still have my ’63 splitwindow Vette though. Wish I’d have kept that cool ’59. Sold it running perfect for $200 in ’63.

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