On Wheels


Jesse James of TV’s “Monster Garage” fame may know how to destroy a perfectly good El Camino and turn it into an extraordinary mega-machine. But members of the Chevelle and El Camino Club of Oregon took some misfit parts and transformed it into the HOTTEST EL CAMINO BBQ you will ever see.

The barbeque had its beginnings in December 2003. Club member Rob Whittaker was watching the movie “Gone in 60 Seconds,” and noticed they were having a BBQ and the cooker was the nose of a Buick. Rob quickly got on the phone to Sonny Connell, resident fabricator of STUFF and PHRAMAS'S (a Sonny-ism, folks). Rob asked Sonny, “Could be done?” And Sonny’s reply was “Anything is possible with enough time and money.”

They started our quest for Chevelle and El Camino parts, and came up with a hood from Sonny's '72 El Camino. That was a start but they needed more and put notice out to the Club for any and all available '70-'72 front clips.

George Burns responded with two fenders, a bumper and miscellaneous pieces from a '71 El Camino. Ken Crocker also gave some chrome pieces and a grill to complete the nose. The club authorized funds to purchase an axle and various sheet metals and steel for the frame. They now had an axle and needed a set of wheels and tires. Lee Anderson had a nice set of Cragar wheels on good rubber so those were used.

Sonny then began the fabricating.

Skip Moore, Lee Anderson, Rob Whittaker and James Moreland spent whatever spare time they could donate to help Sonny weld the frame and mount the axle. Once the basic frame and trailer tongue were built, they hung the fenders and lined up the sheet metal. The fenders were a little rough to say the least, so Sonny spent a lot of time filling and sanding to ensure the body was as straight as possible.

The rest of the group helped out where they could in the process. Finally, Sonny was happy with the body lines and time was running short. They had a fire box and grill surface custom fabricated to fit between the frame rails. The BBQ was then sent to Austen's Body Shop for a base coat of black. George Burn's brother, James -- a master at painting flames -- was visiting from California and was willing to put his personal touch to the high horsepower grill. The flames were painted and the body was clear coated.


One week before the unveiling, the MONSTER B-B-Q was put through its trial run. With 40 pounds of charcoal, she was set ablaze. Everything went well until the familiar smell of burning rubber showed up. It was determined that 40 pounds was too much charcoal and it was agreed that 20 pounds would suffice. Just for good measure, Sonny fabricated some inner wheel wells to protect the tires.

The MONSTER B-B-Q was revealed at the Club’s annual pre-show barbeque and it was an instant hit. Sonny was presented with a plaque thanking him for all his hard work and dedication. Then came the REAL test as Sonny and Skip BBQ'd a few hundred burgers and dogs, without a glitch.



The Builders - Sonny (seated) and one of his helpers, Skip Moore.   With the help of the new Club's new MONSTER B-B-Q, there was plenty of food for all the volunteers.