Featured Vehicles / From the Summit Racing Catalog

Shock to the System: Al Stacko’s 1968 Pro Street El Camino

 

Wanna make jokes about the color of Al Stacko’s award-winning ride? You’d best bring your A-game material, friend, because he has heard them all and emerged unflustered.

“Some guys from the Rock-n-Roll Capital Street Machines car club and I were at Autorama one year, and I had stepped away from my truck for just a minute,” Al said. “Out of nowhere, the guys produced all these Mary Kay cosmetic products and set up a big display on the El Camino. I came back and thought it was pretty funny…until I saw the judges heading my way!”

Perhaps Violet Red Metallic is not an obvious first choice for the paint scheme on a burly Pro Streeter with the supercharged heart of a lion, owned by a life-long, “American Graffiti” style hot rodder. As it turns out, Al didn’t choose the color—the color chose him.

“It was this color when I first saw it at a swap meet back in 1997,” Al said. “Normally, I’m a Chevelle guy who wouldn’t give a second look to an El Camino, but that color caught my eye. When I got closer, I realized the body was in nearly perfect condition, which would shave months—maybe even years—off of any project for that car. Something about the way all the lines and slopes on the El Camino matched up struck a chord with me, too. Plus, the guy was selling it for a guy who was getting a divorce, so the price was good.”

Thus inspired, Al took the El home, where it became one of those permanent projects. Over time, doing virtually all the work himself, he stripped out the old, sub-par internals for performance upgrades, and the vehicle took on its Pro Street character.

In 2008, Al finally found a way to one-up the paint: the towering Chevy 468, topped with an 8:71 billet aluminum supercharger from The Blower Shop, and a double-barreled chrome scoop. Like a piece of fine art, the engine is surrounded by lots of open space for maximum admiration, thanks to Al’s trick install.

“First of all, I wanted no wires showing,” Al said. “That’s why they’re tucked underneath, and the distributor is hidden in back. By using solid motor mounts, I was able to bring the headers in tight, and frame-mount the Summit alternator. I also custom-made these hard fuel lines to follow the contours of the blower case.”

Al really beams about the hood opening, which he carefully crafted with a raised lip to follow the stock lines of the hood. It looks like it rolled out of the factory with a big hole in it just for a gigantic supercharger! When asked about the custom alternator bracket, Al swears us to secrecy.

Don’t hate it because it’s beautiful; hate it because it’s barely-street legal performance (clocking in at 850 hp) will knock your socks off.

“When you have a vehicle like this,” Al said, “it pays to be a really good neighbor. They don’t mind the rumble now and then.”

While Al has done most of the work on the car himself, he is quick to credit the Rock-n-Roll Capital Street Machines car club for the support, advice, and motivation.

“I first met them in 1999,” Al said. “I just kept seeing them at local cruises and car shows, and so I started talking to them, and the next thing I know I’m a member. They knew all the best local shops for specific jobs. Plus, we got to compete against clubs from other areas, where they had new and different ideas to inspire us.”

But Al’s favorite club functions always involve driving the El Camino, especially for parades and cruises. With its shocking paint, dazzling engine, and distinctive styling, the truck always invites folks along the parade route to crowd in for closer looks. “When they get too close, and the cruise gets slowed down, I just blip the throttle a bit, and the blast from side pipes makes them back up fast!”

As much as the El Camino evolved over the years, Al was changing right along with it. “I really found that I liked to get out, meet people, organize things, and solve problems,” Al says. “To help the club, I taught myself how to write better letters for sponsorship and donation requests, how to design signs and posters, and how to be an ambassador for the club and the hobby.” Eventually Al stepped up to become vice-president of the club, and in late 2010, became president.

In fact, Al is such a changed man that his club business cards and his show display identify him as “Al Camino.” Chevelles still hold a special place in his heart, and his latest project vehicle is a gnarly Mercury rat rod, but it is for the El Camino’s magenta majesty that he is best known. “It’s an unforgettable sight,” says Al.

Al knows the El Camino will never really be done. Every now and then he’ll get an idea, and just try it out. “I had some folks offer to airbag it,” he says, “but it didn’t fit the spirit of the project.” Someday, he might smooth out the rivets in the engine compartment and the bed, or make a few other changes, but one thing will never change.

“People have called me crazy, tried to talk me out of it, but the color is permanent. The kids love it, and so do the ladies!”

 

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Is this the reason they call him Al Camino? Turns out it’s only part of the story. “For a while, my wife Cindy drove another 1968 El Camino, and I’ve owned a third. My wife and I went to a test-and-tune event and made a pass down the strip in side-by-side El Caminos, which was a lot of fun.”

Al’s goal in the engine bay was to provide maximum visibility for the Chevy 468, chromed Moroso valve covers, billet aluminum supercharger from The Blower Shop, and the chrome shotgun scoop. That’s why the wires are tucked away under the engine, hoses are kept to a minimum, and even the fuel lines are custom bent to follow the supercharger case. Solid motor mounts make room for the tight-tuck Hooker Super Competition headers and the frame-mount, reversed alternator.

“I don’t mean to sound like I’m kissing up, but the Summit race seats are the best I’ve ever used,” says Al. “They fit just right, and they’re comfortable!” RCI 5-point harnesses keep the Stackos secure in those seats, and Al monitors the vitals via Auto Meter Pro Comp gauges. Then, when the MSD shift light says so, he shifts the Turbo Action Cheetah SCS shifter. Al says the earplugs are there for two good reasons: “The left one is for the side pipes, the right one is for my wife! Ha!” No stereo here: you’d never hear it.

There’s plenty of go along with the show! The El Camino applies 850 horses and 715 ft.-lbs. of torque to the pavement through Mickey Thompson Sportsman S/R Radials. If there was any doubt, the Summit aluminum fuel cell and twin battery boxes solidify the El Camino’s Pro Street cred.

You’ll have to ask Al himself about the origins of this frame-mount bracket for the Summit one-wire alternator, because we’ve been sworn to secrecy.

Al describes the El Camino as an “ongoing adventure.” Not only is he always looking for new things to try out on the vehicle, he loves meeting new people and cruising to new places. Of all the trophies he’s won over the years, the biggest thrills come from the Kid’s Choice contests. “You’d think they’d pick a fancy feature car near the front of the show, so it’s a great honor when they remember the El Camino further back,” says Al.

One fateful Super Summit, the Rock-n-Roll Capital Street Machines were parked right next to the Summit Racing trailer. After a quick downpour, Team Summit Pro Stock driver Greg Anderson made the mistake of standing around watching while Al and friends were drying off their cars. Al flipped him a towel, and Greg was happy to pitch in!

Greg also autographed the underside of the hood.

Al Camino also travels incognito in this splendidly ratty 1955 Mercury, complete with beer can exhaust tips, an antique GPS system (a dash compass), roughed-up pinstriping, and a bottle of Al’s special brand of unpolisher.

 

FAST SPECS

Chassis
Frame: Pro Street chassis with narrowed back half, Competition Engineering roll cage

Suspension: Competition Engineering shocks with Hotchkis springs (front), Koni Gas-a-Just shocks (rear), Competition Engineering Ladder Link barsSummit drop spindles

Brakes: Stock GM front disc brakes, Ford 11-inch rear brakes

Wheels and Tires: Center Line Convo Pro wheels (15-inch x 4-inch front, 15-inch x 15-inch rear), with Mickey Thompson Sportsman S/R Radials (26 x 6.0R15LT front, 31 x 18.0R15LT rear)

Engine and Transmission
Engine: Chevrolet 468 cu. in., overbored .060-inch, line honed

Engine Machine Work By: Michaels Racing Engines

Reciprocating Assembly: Stock GM cast steel crankshaft, Eagle ESP H-Beam connecting rodsWiseco Pro Tru forged 9:1 CR pistonsClevite bearings; balanced

Cylinder Heads: Stock GM cast iron square port heads, ported and polished, closed combustion chambers, Manley stainless steel valves (2.25-inch intake/1.88-inch exhaust)

Valvetrain: COMP Cams Xtreme Energy hydraulic roller camshaft (.248-inch/.254-inch @ .050-inch, .561-inch intake/.581-inch exhaust lift), COMP Cams Endure X hydraulic roller liftersCrane chromoly pushrodsCrane Gold Race aluminum roller rocker arms, K-Motion valve springs, COMP Cams steel retainersMoroso fabricated aluminum chromed valve covers with Moroso breathers

Induction: 8:71 billet aluminum supercharger and intake by The Blower Shop, two 750 cfm supercharger carburetors, chromed double-barrel scoop

Ignition and Electrical: MSD Pro Billet electronic distributor,  MSD 6-BTM ignition box,  MSD Blaster coilTCI Permanent Magnet Racing mini starter, and Summit 140 amp chrome alternator with custom-built frame-mount bracket

Exhaust: Jet-Hot coated Hooker Super Competition 2 1/8-inch headers, three-inch exhaust pipes, Dynomax Race Bullet mufflers

Other Items: Be Cool Aluminator aluminum radiator, March Performance/The Blower Shop underdrive pulleys, custom 5/8-inch stainless steel fuel line feeding independent hard lines that follow the supercharger case, Edelbrock Victor water pumpAeromotive A1000 fuel pump with diaphragm bypass return, Melling high-volume oil pump,Moroso solid steel motor mounts

Transmission: GM TH-400 manual with TCI reverse-pattern valve body, B&M Holeshot torque converter (3,500 rpm stall)

Shifter: Dedenbear Turbo Action Cheetah SCS with trans-brake

Transmission Built By: Al Zaitz

Exterior
Body: 1968 Chevrolet El Camino

Custom Features: Stock with smoothed/filled tailgate, hood cut-out and reworked following factory profile of centerline around supercharger opening, removed/smoothed fuel door, wheel tubs, re-worked bed area

Paint: Sikkens Violet Red Metallic

Body Work and Paint By: Al Stacko

Interior
Front Seats: Summit race seats with black leather covers and RCI 5-point camlock harnesses

Upholstery By: Al Stacko

Dash: Modified Pro Stock-style

Gauges: Auto Meter Pro Comp series

Performance
Approximate horsepower: 850 hp at 6,500 rpm

Approximate torque: 715 ft.-lbs. at 5,800 rpm

Awards
ISCA Outstanding Street Machine Award: 2007, 2009, and 2010

Cleveland AutoRama First Place: 2007, 2009, and 2010

Super Summit XVI Top 50 Award: 2008

ISCA Best Engine Compartment Award: 2009

ISCA Best Interior Award: 2009

Special Thanks
My wife Cindy, Wally Hunter, Al Zaitz, Red Brosnan at H & H, Michael Pietro at Michaels Racing Engines, Anton “the Madd Bomber” Lanesky, and Richard Johns

Photography By: Maguire Photographics

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