If there is one thing that all hot rodders and every other person in this world who has ever owned a car share in common, it's this: we all remember our first ride. No matter if it was an '82 Chevy Citation II, an AMC Pacer, or the old farm truck, everyone remembers their first taste of freedom, good or bad. However, how many can say they still own their first ride? Furthermore, how many can own up to the fact that their first set of wheels now looks better than ever? Exactly, not many-but Ross Berlanga is an exception to the rule.
Back in '92, when Ross was shopping for his first ride, he set his sights on a '71 El Camino. Even though the El Camino was a basketcase, for the most part, that didn't scare him off. Instead, he looked forward to the chance to build the El Camino to his liking. For the next couple of months he and his family worked to restore the El Camino, and eventually it became his daily driver. In fact, Ross retired the '71 from everyday use just a few years back. Through the years the El Camino has changed ever so slightly with the addition of new wheels, suspension, and more, but if you ask Ross, this latest incarnation is dead on. Especially since everything about this ride screams Ross.
Back when Ross and his grandpa first started on the '71, they tore it down to the bone. Once the truck was pulled apart, they began by fixing all the body panels. Any body panels that couldn't be fixed were swapped for new panels from Original Parts Group (OPG). Actually, as Ross puts it, "Original Parts Group was a one-stop shop to make this restoration possible." While fixing the body panels, Ross also shaved off the trim, emblems, and tailgate handle for a simple, flowing look. All that remains are the door handles and mirrors.
With the bodywork finished, the truck was then painted PPG Turquoise Metallic by Wilson Auto Body. The 350 small-block was warmed over a bit with an Edelbrock intake manifold and carburetor and an AEM dry-flow air filter. Once dropped back in, Hedman headers and FlowMaster mufflers were installed. Instead of sticking with the stock suspension, Ross opted to replace the front upper and lower A-arms with Fat Man tubular control arms. He also installed a set of billet trailing arms in the rear.