Dustin Burch is a doer. His father and his brother are doers. He and his close family (San Jose, California), with a little help from local talent, built his ’68 El Camino in the confines and privacy of their own home. Thus, they pretty much had control over the entire project and never had to cow to the paint jailer or anyone who saw it as a potential hostage.
So far, the process has consumed four years and a lot of green, but anyone who has ever embarked on this journey knows that numbers are arbitrary at best. Sweat and angst are the real measures of the task. Impetus for the build hooked directly back to Dustin’s high school days. He had a ’68 Elco, followed by a curious succession of flat-fender Jeeps (no less than seven of them ranging from ’48-59). Even now, at a young 35, Dustin has been able to immerse himself in pre-catalyst cars much in the same way his father had when he was a youth.
As a matter of fact, it was his dad, Steve, who joked that the Elco should be bagged. But Dustin took him seriously and that’s when the whole deal began to expand exponentially and get firmly out of control. One change led to another more ambitious lead. “As I started stripping the car down for the running gear swap, my brother, Dennis, came over and said ‘Why don’t you just take the rest of the body off the frame, it’s only a few more bolts?’ So I did.”
It quickly twisted into a sort of mini bloodlust; once enacted it was impossible to quit. To wit: “Then my brother said, ‘Let’s clean up that frame’ as he started cutting off all the brake and fuel lines,” Dustin says. About then, Steve had suggested the airbag routine. Dustin: “Since I had the frame stripped down, I might as well blast it and have it powdercoated. My buddy Jason talked me into also having the body blasted and sealed at SRS Industry. When I got the body back, I noticed damage on the driver-side quarter-panel and changed it out with a new one.”
He went to Goodguys with his buddy Sam to find more body replacements. Sam talked him into taking a tailgate, fenders, inner fenders, header panel, grille, bumper filler, bumpers, brackets, and a battery tray from Matt’s Classic Bowties (Dublin, California). From this point on, Dustin realized that he was a captive, so far into the car that there would be no turning back. He built a rotisserie, bolted the body on, and trucked it over to Steve’s garage where he, his brother, and father began to suss out the bodywork. Three months later, and “with some very sore arms”, Dennis was ready to begin painting.
When Dustin got on this pony, he was looking at a paintjob and a patch for the radiator so he could just get in and drive . . . and look good doing it. He’s a very long way from that humble starting block. He’s right where you are or where you want to be. He can look around him, see his family, and know that they will always be part of his car, too, and feel very lucky indeed.