The sight of a vehicle with bright colors and a big engine bulging through the hood is liable to stick in one's mind. These were the images that Eric Urlie of West Covina has retained from car shows his parents took him to at an early age. During Eric's toddler years, he spent most of his time making engine sounds. With age, he learned to read and began absorbing all the knowledge he could from his favorite car magazines. By the time he passed the California state driving test, he had acquired and modified a '69 El Camino for high school transportation. Then, in June of 1993, he purchased the car that would change his life. The time had come to step up and build something serious.

Eric noticed this 283ci, three-speed, '59 El Camino performing manual labor and decided to rescue it and turn it into a praise-worthy showpiece. Over the next eight years, the El Camino underwent construction following four ground rules. It needed to have huge tires, a blown big-block, lots of flames, and a show-quality shine. Eric began his project by removing the body and having it dipped while the frame received a Williams Classic Chassis Works rollcage and several custom modifications before the sandblasting and powdercoat were applied.

After Chris Runa shaved the door handles and welded the tailgate closed, Mike Sheppard applied the paint and Eric added a custom four-link rear suspension with adjustable shocks, 11-inch rear Wilwood disc brakes, and huge 31x18.5-15 Mickey Thompson tires. The front suspension is completely powdercoated and has been upgraded with Master Power 2-inch drop spindles and 10.5-inch Chevy S-10 disc brakes. With everything in place, the 460ci blown Rat was bolted to the framerails to complete the driveline. Finishing off the project is a custom center console, restored gauges, Mazda RX7 seats, and a Colorado Customs steering wheel.

When Eric takes his '59 El Camino out for a cruise, the flamed paint job and 460ci blown Rat definitely turn heads. Whether you're a 70-year-old veteran or a 16-year-old kid, it's tough to miss Eric's fine '59.