My Storage Yard Classic: 1971 GMC Sprint – Saved From The Wrecking Yard

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Most of you know me by my previous moniker “CougarXR7”. However, with that car now gone and the strong spirit of camaraderie here, I have no problem with using my real name. This is the first in a series of my old project vehicles that I’ll be posting about, my 1971 GMC Sprint.GMC ad
As most gearheads already know, the GMC Sprint is nothing more than a Chevy El Camino with different badges, while the El Camino itself is mostly a Malibu wagon with the last 2/3rds or the roof sliced off. Despite its lack of distinguishing features compared to its El Camino cousin, the GMC Sprint is a rare beast indeed, with only 5500 built in 1971, compared to God knows how many El Caminos were built and sold that year. The rarest of all is the sporty and muscular Sprint SP ( GMC’s answer to the El Camino Super Sport ) with fewer than 80 in existence.

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I rescued this one from the “CARS FOR SALE” section of a local wrecking yard for only $1300, including tax and the tow fee. Despite its ragged appearance, everything worked. Plenty of meat on the brake linings, ran like a top with no smoke or funny noises, the Turbo 350 trans shifts flawlessly ( despite a leak ), and it stops on a dime. Even the oil and all the fluids were clean. This was obviously someone’s driver before it ended up at the junkyard.
Despite its good running, this thing needs a LOT of work. It’s got the typical cancer in the lower rear quarters, the interior is simply horrible, and it has two huge “temper dents” in the drivers side door and front fender. Plus, one of the front upper control arm bushings actually fell out.
I originally bought this as a flipper, but now I’m almost leaning towards keeping it- at least for a while. It’s not only a rare beast, but also quite handy. Just the thing for grabbing a dozen sacks of fertilizer or 2-3 kegs of beer without having to drag my massive Ford F250 Super Duty diesel out every time.
Right now I’m in the process of swapping intake manifolds, The gasket was leaking on the stock two-barrel, plus since I already have this nicely painted Edelbrock Performer and good used Quadrajet ready to bolt on, the swap was a no-brainer. I also have a set of 15X7, 5-slot Rallys I bought from a friend. I’ve had them sandblasted and powdercoated, so they’re ready to go.
What do you guys think? Keep or sell? Retain the 350 or do a 454 swap?

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