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IROC-S Pace Car #001
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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
There seems to be a lot more interest regarding Choo Choo Customs El Caminos these days, and subsequently more questions from members. I figured I would start a thread and list all of the information I have gathered (with the help of others) over the years regarding Choo Choo El Caminos. This is just a list of information that I have gathered over the years via online research, other enthusiasts, and former Choo Choo Customs employees. If I have made a mistake with any of the information and another member knows something more accurate, please feel free to correct me for the sake of bettering everyone’s knowledge on this subject. Anyone else please feel free to add content to this thread that I have not listed, or that you feel is substantial.

Choo Choo Customs was a vehicle customization/conversion company based out of Chattanooga , TN that began building conversion vans in 1975. Choo Choo Customs first started converting El Caminos into Designer Series SS models in 1983. Some enthusiasts liken the Choo Choo El Camino to other conversion vehicles manufactured by companies such as Mark III or Southern Comfort, but in actuality the Choo Choo converted El Camino was more similar to the SLP Camaro SS and Trans Am WS6 of the 1990’s and 2000’s. I say this because the Choo Choo El Camino was NOT a dealer option, nor could you bring your own El Camino to Choo Choo to be converted into an SS. Chevrolet contracted with Choo Choo to build these El Caminos as the ‘SS’ version; similar to how SLP converted V8 equipped Camaros and Trans Ams into SS’s and WS6’s. No, Choo Choo did not make any performance modifications to the El Caminos like SLP made to the Camaro and Trans Am, but my point is that both companies were contracted by GM to create an “SS” version of each vehicle.



Up until 1983, Chevrolet offered their own Super Sport version of the El Camino (RPO code Z15). The Z15 Super Sport maintained the stock El Camino nose, and received a two-tone paint job, large door and tailgate Super Sport decals, black quarter window trim, a front air dam, and a dashboard emblem. However, in 1984 the RPO Z15 remained an option, but all exterior Super Sport decals were removed by Chevrolet. The name of the Z15 option was also changed from ‘Super Sport’ to ‘SS Décor package.’ I’m assuming this was done so that the Z15 package did not compete with the Choo Choo Customs SS option. Between 1983 and 1987 approximately 2,200 (educated estimate) El Caminos were converted into the Designer Series SS by Choo Choo Customs.




All Choo Choo Customs El Caminos received a driver’s door jam Re-Certification decal which listed that particular vehicle’s sequential build number, year code, and the last six numbers of the vehicles VIN. Note: A reproduction Re-Certification decal is offered for sale online; it is a poor re-make of the original, so when buying an El Camino that is represented as a real Choo Choo, inspect the decal thoroughly to make sure it is original.

1983 was the year with the fewest Choo Choo El Caminos produced (approximately 22 units or less). Choo Choo Customs continued to sell their El Camino conversion parts for several years after El Camino production ended. Choo Choo went out of business in the mid 2000s. At that time, Honest Charley’s Speed Shop (also based out of Chattanooga , TN ) assumed a portion of Choo Choo’s employees and El Camino parts, which they still sell today. The original polyurethane Choo Choo nose is no longer produced, but Honest Charley’s kept the original mold and continues to produce the nose out of fiberglass.

The following GM RPO options were required on an El Camino in order to be converted into a Choo Choo SS:
-ZJ7 rally wheels w/ white lettered tires
-D35 Sport Mirrors
-V08 Heavy-Duty Cooling

The Choo Choo El Camino SS package included the following features:
-Special Aerodynamic Polyurethane Front Nose
-Special Machine Turned Aluminum Side Moldings (1983 – 1985 only)
-SS Door, Nose, and Tailgate Decals
-Designer Series Door Handle Inserts
-Choo Choo Customs Train Emblem on Dashboard

The following were options offered by Choo Choo that could be ordered on the SS (availability varies by year):
-Choo Choo Customs Steering Wheel
-15x7 Western Star Aluminum Wheels
-Glass Moon Roof
-Custom Two-Tone Paint with Hand Painted Accent Striping (1985 – 1987 only)
-Special Cowl Induction Style Hood
-Shielded Sporty Side Pipes
-Roof Airfoil Wing (1983 only)

SEE PAGE 2
 

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IROC-S Pace Car #001
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Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
Interesting Choo Choo Customs El Caminos:

1984 St Louis Drive Away
In 1984 Chevrolet held a 'St Louis Dealers El Camino SS Drive away' event where 120 brand new white 1984 Choo Choo Customs El Caminos were personally picked up by Chevrolet dealers. It was a pretty big event as Chevrolet flew all of the 120 dealers into Chattanooga , TN to take delivery of the new Choo Choo Customs edition El Caminos . This was done to create excitement for the new Choo Choo El Caminos . The 120 Choo Choo El Caminos that were part of this event were distinguished by a special tailgate decal and an identifying 'STL' number on the Choo Choo Re-Certification decal in the door jam.


1984 IROC promotional El Camino
In 1984 an IROC El Camino was built as a display vehicle to promote the I.R.O.C. series in ’84. It was not a pace car like the IROC-S #001 in 1985; rather it was used at racing events to generate interest in the series. This 1984 IROC created such an interest at the events it attended that GM executives requested Choo Choo to build the IROC-S pace car in 1985; so this is a pretty significant Elky. Nobody seems to know where this car is right now (it was not saved by Choo Choo in their private collection like IROC-S #001 and the Indy Track Service Elky were). It may have been crushed years ago… or it may be in a garage in pristine condition somewhere. If anybody sees it at a show, please let me know.


1985 IROC-S Pace Car #001, and replica editions
In 1985 a special red, white, and blue IROC-S El Camino was built to be the Official Pace Car for the 1985 series of the International Race of Champions. It was the only truck to ever pace an IROC race, and it was the only El Camino to ever pace a professionally sanctioned race. It was also featured in the February 1986 issue of Super Chevy magazine in a two page article. IROC-S #001 was outfitted with an all-aluminum 350, roll bar with strobe lights, strobes in the head and taillights, custom candy paint, hand-painted decals, 16” Center Line wheels with one-off Goodyear tires, and an auxiliary oil pressure gauge. Choo Choo produced approximately 15 IROC-S replica editions to be sold to enthusiasts. IROC-S #001 remained in Choo Choo’s possession and was not sold until the company went out of business. IROC-S #001 only has approximately 1,500 original miles on the odometer. See www.iroc-s.com for more info.


1986 Indianapolis Track service El Camino
In 1986 the Chevrolet Corvette was the Official Pace Car of the 1986 Indy 500. A special yellow and black Track Service El Camino was built to perform various duties during the race. It featured an all-aluminum 350, roll bar with strobe lights, large decals, 16” Center Line rims, and an auxiliary oil pressure gauge. This Indy Track Service El Camino remained in Choo Choo’s possession and was not sold until the company went out of business. At that time, it and IROC-S #001 were both sold to the same private collector. The Indy and #001 remained in the same collection until they were sold and separated in 2008.


I’m sure I have forgotten a few things, so everyone please feel free to chime in and contribute.
 

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E-man,, very nice article!! Very good info,, do you know or have you ever heard anyone doing the same for the M-80 Malibu`s?? I have had a notion to do a book or something for the M-80 cars out of one of the Carolina`s,, Matty man
 

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A note in regards to the hood scoop option. The scoop was non-functional even though it came with a pair of chrome emblems that said "cowl induction".
 

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Thank you for the post. I don't know where there isn't a sticky about this including the track car, pace car, and iroc. :You_Rock:
 

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Very informative, thanks for the information. Were they originally only made in white? And should the door sticker say "in effect" at the time instead of "in affect"?
 

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choo choo customs info

At the present time I have 11 1984's CCC's on my research list; colors - white(5), black(3), blue(2), and burgundy(1). Most popular color combo seems to be white exterior and blue interior (4) the other(7) interiors are burgundy.
 

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IROC-S Pace Car #001
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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
And should the door sticker say "in effect" at the time instead of "in affect"?
Good observation, I never noticed that. The photo I posted above is a real Choo Choo decal...it looks like Choo Choo incorrectly used 'affect' when they should have used 'effect.' It's a good thing they built custom vehicles and not english text books :).

I took another look at the two reproduction decals that are offered online. Each one has different problems which indicate that they're poor remakes:

1)The first re-pro has a clear backing (should be a white backing), has a comma after Choo Choo Customs (should be no comma), and uses the word 'effect' instead of 'affect' (even though effect is grammatically correct).

2)The second re-pro decal has a chrome backing instead of white, and the spacing of the lines is incorrect.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with making a Choo Choo Customs replica...some of the best looking Elkys on this site are not real Choo Choos, but have the nose. I myself almost put a Choo Choo nose on a Conquista I used to own. But, I have an issue with someone putting a phony Choo Choo re-cert decal on an Elky in order to increase re-sale (which Im seeing more of these days with online auctions). At that point it's not a replica, it's deception.
 

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While going through old clothes to donate to charity, I found an old VHS "Choo Choo Customs" tape I got many years ago (it came with a catalog I ordered from Choo Choo Customs). I don't ever remember playing it and it still looks brand new! The cardboard sleeve has no printing on it and through the sleeve window you can see the VHS title ("Choo Choo Customs , El Camino SS, Vintage Video, P/N 19940").
Inside the sleeve was this:


So, what do you guys think?

Doug
 

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E-Man,
The devil made me do it!!! I had to go and watch it. The tape is in excellent condition (for a VHS tape). It looked to me like the 120 dealer Choo Choo's had the front license plate bracket mounted and no "SS" decal on the facia. After watching the tape, I know I never watched it before!
Have you ever heard of anybody besides us that have the tape?

Doug
 

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choo choo customs info

How about this. The St. Louis drive away was April 10-11, 1984. Choo Choo Custom #128 (stl 001) was built March 1984. So, does that mean the had 5 weeks to crank out 120 units?

As for fake recert decals, there is an '87 GMC Caballero with the chrome one on E-bay right now. It even has gold SS decals.
 

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IROC-S Pace Car #001
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Discussion Starter #17 (Edited)
Have you ever heard of anybody besides us that have the tape?

Doug
They're pretty hard to find. I've only heard of a handful of people having them. I don't know how many were made, but they almost never surface for sale online. I very rarely pull mine out and watch it because Im afraid my old VCR will eat the tape, and I won't be able to find another one. Whenever I want to watch it, I just go to the IROC-S website for the sake of saving my tape!
 

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IROC-S Pace Car #001
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Discussion Starter #18
How about this. The St. Louis drive away was April 10-11, 1984. Choo Choo Custom #128 (stl 001) was built March 1984. So, does that mean the had 5 weeks to crank out 120 units?
I think you are correct and they only had a short time to build the 120 for the event. I think the photo below was taken in 1984, and these are some of the 120 Elkys used for the event (I count at least 25 in the photo). Note they have the 1983-1985 style side mirrors; making it plausible that these are some of the 1984s from the video.

 

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choo choo customs info

yes, I thought the same thing, they are part of the 120 Stl units. My count is also 25. They all appear to have bed rails, front facia "SS" decal and not the license plate holder. However, missing is a radio antenna, I guess they had the "in windshield" type. Now did they number them consecutively from #128 to #248? The answer is NO, because #169 and #216 are not Stl units.
 

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I think you are correct and they only had a short time to build the 120 for the event. I think the photo below was taken in 1984, and these are some of the 120 Elkys used for the event (I count at least 25 in the photo). Note they have the 1983-1985 style side mirrors; making it plausible that these are some of the 1984s from the video.

http://i1147.photobucket.com/albums/o547/IROCelky/IROC/ECCpost2.jpg
I just realized those style mirrors ARE for my elky. I had a pair in the back of my elco when I bought it and couldn't figure out what kind of car they came off of.
 
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