Ed Biggs' 1959 Chevrolet El Camino
1959 Chevrolet El Camino owned by Davenport Idlers member Ed Biggs of Davenport, Iowa. Ed ran Biggs Automotive Service with his father, and in the Summer of 1959, he decided to turn a brand new El Camino into a shop truck and rolling advertisement for their business.
Custom by Paint
Two years earlier, Ed had spent the Summer working for Frank McGurk in California. During his stay in California, Ed met Louis Senter, who was the mentor for Joe Andersen, an aspiring young custom painter. Ed met Andersen through Senter, and when he ordered the El Camino he had it delivered to a Gardena, California dealer, so Joe could pick it up and give it one of his popular custom paint jobs.
Police Cruiser Special
Being a midget racer and a speed freak, Ed ordered his El Camino with a heavy-duty suspension system called “Police Cruiser Special”. The “Police Cruiser Special” contained heavy-duty springs, shocks, steering, brakes, and a Posi rear end with heavy-duty stabilizers. Originally painted black, the El Camino rolled off the assembly line featuring a 350 hp 348 V-8 engine, a T10 Borg Warner 4-speed transmission, a 2.5-inch special exhaust system, and tinted windows.
Ed's El Camino was delivered in June of 1959. Joe Andersen picked it up at the dealer, and took it to his shop, where he gave it a panel paint job. In 2014 Ed recalled that the brand new El Camino received a Candy effect and that Joe painted it with 1957 Chevrolet Ina Silver and Sierra Gold Duco paint colors. He started out by spraying the silver base before he mixed 75% Sierra Gold with 25% Inca Silver for the color coat. It was finished off with a 50 percent color and 50 percent clear paint job. The paint was lacquer. The edges between the base color and the panels were pinstriped by Joe. Ed was supposed to fly over and drive the car home when Joe was done with it, but as he was too busy at the time, he had to pay a guy to go and pick it up for him.
Shipped to Europe in 1959
In September of 1959, Ed joined the US Air Force. In July the following year, he was stationed at the Ramstein Air Base near the town of Ramstein in Germany. At the time, a person that had been in the service for more than 4 years could ship a car over at the expense of the services. Shortly after Ed arrived in Germany he decided that he wanted to have the El Camino shipped over. As he had only been in the service for about a year, he had to pay 250 USD to have the car shipped to Germany. The Joe Andersen painted El Camino was shipped from New York to Bremen in Germany, and for the next 3 years, he traveled all over Europe using the El Camino as transportation when he could.
Ed’s El Camino drew crowds wherever it went in Europe, and people were always curious about the engine. Early in 1962 tragedy struck, as the El Camino was totaled when it was hit by a drunk Italian driver in a Fiat. Ed had loaned the car to his buddy Reinhard Zellmann the night the accident happened. Reinhard had parked it on a one way street in Wiesbaden when the Fiat hit a car on the left side of the street. He then got turned and hit Ed’s car head-on in the left doorpost area. Ed was not able to have the car fixed up in Europe, so he sold the remains to his friend Sgt. Bill Coffee, who was returning to the US. Bill moved to Florida after returning home, and Ed never heard a thing from him again. After the El Camino was totaled, Ed bought a 1959 Chevrolet Impala convertible that he used during the rest of his stay in Germany.
Reinhard's Tribute Build
Magazine Features and Appearances
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