Volume III, Issue 11, Page 23

El Camino Nitrouso

The Journey of the Wounded Elk

n our last episode, we found the Burkster and El Camino just emerging from paint hell. After nearly two years of starts and stops and seeming hopelessness, the Elk was finally painted, had its 40-year-old wiring replaced, and the motor was fresh. It was cruisin’ time!  PS:I should have known after four years of thrashing that I was just being stupidly optimistic.

Let’s review a little of the saga of the El Camino Nitrouso history before dealing with the reality of today. I got the Elk in primer and after I had taken it down the dragstrip once I decided that the 2:70:1 road gears had to go so I bought some 3:70s from my pals at Strange Engineering. I went to install them one nice spring weekend and soon discovered that the 2:70 posi housing in the Elk required a special spacer in order for the 3:70 gears to be installed, so I decided to take the Elk to a friend of mine’s shop and have him install the gear set and at the same time do the brakes.

After about two weeks or so, he called and told me to come pick it up. I hitched a ride to his shop and there the El Camino sat clean and ready to drive. I asked if everything was good and he flipped me my keys and said, “drive her home.”

I hopped in the seat fired the big-block up and it rumbled nicely through the three-inch Flowmaster exhaust system. I pulled out on the street, stepped on the gas, the tires chirps, and off I went in blissful ignorance.

I really liked the jump the gearing gave the old girl and with a freshly rebuilt engine I was ready for some serious hot rodding. I drove through South St. Louis until I found Interstate 270, which would take me to beautiful downtown O’Fallon and the Racing Net Source (Max Chevy’s parent company) headquarters in the Phlegm Building.

That’s when it all started to go bad … again.

With 2:70s, I rarely got the engine above 3,000rpm, but with the 3:70s, the rpm’s headed towards 4,000 on the highway. I figured that wasn’t a problem until I had gone down the highway at around 3,800 rpm. I glanced at the rear-view and what did I see but death smoke billowing out of the exhaust pipes. I quickly checked the oil pressure and temp gauges they read normal. Then a guy pulled up beside me and yelled that it wasn’t smoke coming out of the pipes, it was water! Water! WTF?

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