the almighty corvair

m564agm564ag Member Posts: 15
edited March 2014 in Chevrolet
I would like to bring back the corvair forum

Comments

  • m564agm564ag Member Posts: 15
    Well the car is now home it is a untouched 900 with less then 40000 on the clock
  • fintailfintail Member Posts: 54,979
    My grandfather - the one who was enamored with the Tucker - loved Corvairs. During those times over a period of about a decade he had 5 of them - an early sedan, a late sedan, an early coupe, a van, and a pickup.
  • euphoniumeuphonium Great Northwest, West of the Cascades.Member Posts: 3,425
    Our Red 1960 “769” served us well until 1967. By then we had our two children & outgrew the car.

    The first thing I did was to borrow a UNISYN and balance the carbs. That helped considering it had Powerglide. The gasoline heater was very helpful to defrost the Windshield and heat the interior while we changed from ski boots to street shoes. When going to White Pass and chains were only “Advised”, it made it up and down the road very securely, without hanging iron. A great little car. :):)
  • bhill2bhill2 Member Posts: 2,309
    It was a refrigerator-white series 700 4-door that my sister handed down to me when she got a better job and upgraded. It would probably have been a total ego killer except that it was a 4-speed, and somewhere in its checkered past someone had done wonderful things to the engine. The family mechanic referred to it as the only Corvair he know that could lay rubber. I really enjoyed that car (partially because it was a Q-ship), even when it threw the fan belt (I usually carried a spare and a spare spare in case it threw it somewhere destructive) and even the couple of times when the brakes took a break while I was going down a hill. I finally got rid of it when a truck whose lug nuts were higher off the ground than the car almost turned me into a flat top pancake. I bought a Volvo (very used, but that's a story for another day and board). Felt much safer but not as, umm, stimulated.

    2009 BMW 335i, 2003 Corvette cnv. (RIP 2001 Jaguar XK8 cnv and 1985 MB 380SE [the best of the lot])

  • fezofezo Manahawkin, NJMember Posts: 10,379
    A pickup! I AM impressed. A van, too!

    If i get to the point of a fun car (which would involve more driveway...) I'd love to do a Corvair. We never owned one but I have good memories of them anyway.
    2015 Mazda 6 Grand Touring, 2014 Mazda 3 Sport Hatchback, 1999 Mazda Miata 2004 Toyota Camry LE, 1999.
  • fintailfintail Member Posts: 54,979
    He had an electronics store those were used for. They replaced a 57 Chevy sedan delivery he ordered special in black with a 283 and a manual.

    He was kind of a nut, in a good way. He bought an early Piper Cub in 1939 and used it through the mid 50s, then bought some other plane I don't know the make of...sadly,he was done with that by the time I was born. He also had an odd fetish for small motorhomes and van conversions. Sadly, his last car was a dustbuster Lumina van.

    An old friend of mine used to have a beater 1964 Corvair convertible...it has a brush paintjob and was rode hard and put away wet, but was fun for a ride on a nice day.
  • fezofezo Manahawkin, NJMember Posts: 10,379
    That's a killer on the last car. I was aiming at my dad's last car but he went from a string of Sedan Devilles, the last one of which i really liked to a Buick Century that he hated almost as soon as the ink was dry on the lease. When the lease was up dad was no longer driving. Oh, well.

    I used to live next door to a guy who had an old Willys Jeep with a brush paint job. His kid would tell me about his dad getting it stuck out on the beach which was just three blocks up. I could just picture it.

    I'd love a Corvair convertible!

    Is there any other example of GM - or anyone - making a whole line of vehicles under a model name? I mean it's not like you could get a Malibu or Nova van....
    2015 Mazda 6 Grand Touring, 2014 Mazda 3 Sport Hatchback, 1999 Mazda Miata 2004 Toyota Camry LE, 1999.
  • fintailfintail Member Posts: 54,979
    I think he thought the Lumina van was some kind of futuristic vehicle. At the time he also had a Chevy conversion van, some kind of 80s motorhome, and a 70s Ford Camper Special pickup he was very fond of. He was pretty openminded about vehicles and liked to be an early adopter of technology - but I can't remember him owning or anyone mentioning him owning an import.

    Corvairs sound very much like VWs, at least the convertible I rode in reminded me of one. Charming little car even as a beater, I can see why they have a little following now.

    Ford made oddball Falcon vans and pickups, maybe not as unusual as the Corvairs, but still a good example of early 60s weirdness.
  • fezofezo Manahawkin, NJMember Posts: 10,379
    That's right! I'd forgotten about the Falcons.

    The Corvair had a lot in common with the old VW bugs. Too bad Ralph didn't go after the Beetles instead of the Corvairs....

    My dad never bought an import for himself, though before he bought that darn Buick he was talking about a BMW - that would have changed things! - but he bought my mom a few Japanese cars because that's what she liked - basic, stick shift and not too big.
    2015 Mazda 6 Grand Touring, 2014 Mazda 3 Sport Hatchback, 1999 Mazda Miata 2004 Toyota Camry LE, 1999.
  • fintailfintail Member Posts: 54,979
    GM was a bigger target, and I suspect Nader knew they would react in an idiotic fashion, as they did. A real shame, the Corvair was one of the more daring postwar American cars.

    My grandmother on that side always had crappy smaller cars, which she seemed to like. When I was little she had a powder blue Pinto that seemed embarrassing even when I was quite young, and then a string of Cavaliers, one of which was her last car, she drove until she was 93 IIRC.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    Well the early Corvair was pretty dangerous if you didn't inflate the tires properly. Quite frankly, I would drive an early one but I wouldn't be a passenger in one, even today.

    My favs are the 1965 on up. They are prettier, faster, easier to drive and they corrected many of the Corvair's inherent flaws. GREAT brakes, too.

    The early turbo models were badly designed and didn't work very well either. Another engineering disappointment.

    The stick shift is very clunky but you can fix that with some mods. In fact, devoted Corvair fans have all kinds of fixes to make the car so much better than the way they came from the factory.

    This is the kind of car where you really want to plug into the club network and take advantage of the collected wisdom.
  • bhill2bhill2 Member Posts: 2,309
    Yeah, the 2nd generation Corvairs were beautiful little suckers, including the four doors. I regret never having bought one. I did know someone with a '63 turbo, and you are right that they had problems. Were the turbo models in the 2nd generation substantially better?

    2009 BMW 335i, 2003 Corvette cnv. (RIP 2001 Jaguar XK8 cnv and 1985 MB 380SE [the best of the lot])

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    Not really. The turbocharger design was rather self-defeating, very crude actually, and hardly gave any boost at all until the engine was revving very high--the exact opposite of what you want. Nobody really got turbos right in passenger cars until Saab in the late 1970s. The problem was that the carburetor was AHEAD of the turbocharger, so you had a "draw-through" turbo instead of a "blow-through" turbo.

    Not good.

    Some people actually modify them to blow-throughs---way better.
  • m564agm564ag Member Posts: 15
    Well now that I am back in the game as they say I did a little research on her. I have got a good start it is a 37,000 mile buggy ( my term for a car ) I have talked with the second owner and the odometer is true so I have a good Ideal where and what she has been up to for the 47 plus years. I think I shall name her Christine. After 30 plus years a small carburetor problem has been fixed a leaking choke pull off.
  • fezofezo Manahawkin, NJMember Posts: 10,379
    Yeah, the 65 and forward Corvairs are the ones you want. Safer and look loads better.
    2015 Mazda 6 Grand Touring, 2014 Mazda 3 Sport Hatchback, 1999 Mazda Miata 2004 Toyota Camry LE, 1999.
  • euphoniumeuphonium Great Northwest, West of the Cascades.Member Posts: 3,425
    Moulton Taylor's Aerocar powered by a Corvair engine back in the 60's.
  • starjaniastarjania Member Posts: 1
    a distant relative recently told me that they heard I was in a terrible corvair accident as a toddler...I know I was supposed to have been at Pittsburgh children's hospital for a grave illness around that time, but i was always told it was viral... I do know my mother was in a corvair accident and had to wear a neck brace for some time....unfortnately I cannot ask her about it, and by the sounds of it it was extremely serious and life threatening (i'd like to know the medical history involved etc)...does anyone know where I might find reports of these late sixties corvair accidents in which these cars were known to flip? thanks for your help. :confuse:
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    This is quite interesting, about 6:30 minutes.

    The car rolls over at 5:25, but it was intentionally done. I'm sure they wouldn't have included that in the 1960 film if the Nader business had already come out.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ybxkgUkE3hI

    Makes me want to go out and buy one--LOL!
  • m564agm564ag Member Posts: 15
    Sounds as though we are in about the same age group. Back in those days cars were like little tanks and did not bend up like the ones today do. So it was you the passengers that were moved much harder about in the car. I was in a wreck with my dad in the Winter of 1966. My Dad had just bought a 66 Bellaire I think it had a few goodies like power steering, power brakes , a/c and no more. That car had a ton of power plus the car was painted a metal flake gray WW2 battleship color. I liked the color and still do--Back to the wreck I was looking out the passenger side back side window and flew all the way over to the drivers side and hit it like a rock. I recall seeing the car a day or two later and it was just a mild hit to the drivers side between the door and quarter panel I think the rim was bent too. Now take in mind there were no real seat belt laws nor belts for kids back then. Since then I have had a few wrecks of mine own and never felt that kind pain from what would seem a small wreck.
  • whitehawkwhitehawk Member Posts: 6
    I actually owned a '64! You had to 'toss it and catch it' which meant cut the wheel hard, get the rear end hung out, reverse the wheel to straighten out after the turn.

    I watched a guy do this to go round a farmer who turned out of his driveway right in front of the Corvair. He cut the wheel left, Corvair starts to spin, as the driver cuts right to 'catch' it, he moves to the passing lane, and reverses the 'toss & catch' as he goes past the truck. It was beautiful! A big car would have rearended the truck.

    Mine rusted. After my kids threw their toys out a hole in the back seat floor, I sold it. Loved to drive it, though!
  • m564agm564ag Member Posts: 15
    Well That was cool --- I was a prototype auto safety mechanic for 18 years And the corvair was not anywhere near the unsafe car --- even for its time. We tested 1000s of cars over the years and as strange as it sounds the safest car for the due 2000 model year --- was the last car you will ever be in a Lincoln continental hearse !!!!
  • m564agm564ag Member Posts: 15
    Well the corvair has been to our local elkfest here in atlanta mi. It is real nice to see all the people looking at her in the shape she is in. I did drive her in the parade and got a lot of hoops and howlers. But the most fun was the ones that had something bad to say -- my reply was where's your car lol. well at least I got a trophy the earl Scheib award. I was first at something
  • lokkilokki Member Posts: 1,200
    There are still some pretty Corvairs available - I always though that these were among the prettiest.

    http://dallas.craigslist.org/dal/cto/1361752590.html
  • andre1969andre1969 Member Posts: 24,881
    last week in one of the parking lots here at work. 2nd generation hardtop coupe, Corsa model, white, in pretty nice shape.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    Very attractive cars---they guy's dreaming on the price though---the car looks pretty rough underneath, and the paint color is off. Also this "turbo" is pretty anemic. He should be pricing at $4995 asking IMO.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    Well the design is hopelessly outdated but that lovely engine---imagine putting that into a well-sorted Fitch Corvair and you would have had the American Porsche.

    Of course, that would have severely threatened the rather bestial Corvette of that era. Undoubtedly, production costs for an engine like that would have sent the MSRP into, and perhaps beyond, Corvette territory.

    And I don't think it could have been built at a price to compete with the Porsche 914, because that Porsche sourced a common VW engine and VW hardware off the shelf.

    Perhaps GM could have revamped the Corvair engine into a sturdy 4-cylinder ohv unit, presuming they could have overcome the chronic oil leaks.

    Corvair braking and handling was already pretty darn good by the late 60s.
  • euphoniumeuphonium Great Northwest, West of the Cascades.Member Posts: 3,425
    going from a 1960 Corvair 769 to a 1967 Ford Country Sedan 390, but the Ford had a lot more room for two adult and 4 kid skiers. The Corvair, with Powerglide, had two carbs and having used a Unisyn on them, it was a very efficient engine/car. The gasoline fired heater/defroster would clear the windshield before I could load the skis on the rack & change into street shoes. Great little car! :):)
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    didn't that gas heater freak you out? I guess they were safe, but the CONCEPT was a bit unsettling...."first we'll pump gas from the gas tank into this little container in front of the windshield, bolted to the front bulkhead just in front of your passenger's knees-----then....you see that spark plug?....well, what happens next is....."
  • euphoniumeuphonium Great Northwest, West of the Cascades.Member Posts: 3,425
    In seven years of driving the rig, never a problem. In fact, never heard of a problem.

    The reason GM eliminated the gasoline heater(1961) is that it cut the MPG figure when compared to the competition's puddle jumpers.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    Oh that's RIGHT. I do remember that problem now. I wonder why Americans were so concerned in the era of Cheap Gas? What was it in 1960? About .25 cents a gallon?

    It really needed a gas heater, as did the VW. And even when the regular heater worked on the Corvair, the inefficient engine sealing sometimes caused oil to drip into the heater boxes, filling the passenger compartment with acrid smoke. Nice.

    Corvair purists will insist that all of the Corvair's "issues" (they dare not call them problems) are correctable, and they are right.

    The "issue" with that is that the American car buyer did not want such a fussy car, that required precise tire inflation, and a higher level of maintenance, and various "upgrades".

    One could argue that the 1960 VW was no winner in the comfort or reliability department either, but it was simple to fix and it had a sort of cult status that the Corvair never did achieve.
  • andre1969andre1969 Member Posts: 24,881
    Oh that's RIGHT. I do remember that problem now. I wonder why Americans were so concerned in the era of Cheap Gas? What was it in 1960? About .25 cents a gallon?

    Yeah, but 1961 was also in the wake of a recession, one that had a lasting impact on cars. The economy wasn't so hot yet, and people were becoming more concerned with fuel economy. Witness the success of the Rambler. And the simple fact that suddenly cars like the Falcon, Corvair, Valiant, and Lancer even existed!

    Even with bigger cars, they were cutting compression and making feeble attempts at downsizing. One example I can think of, off the top of my head, is that Chrysler cut the output of their 361-2bbl from 295 to 265 hp that year. The '61 Pontiacs, Oldsmobiles, Buicks, and even Cadillacs were a bit smaller and lighter than the year before. Dodge was relying mainly on Plymouth-sized cars for their volume sellers, while Chrysler and the remnants of DeSoto were depending on what had traditionally been Dodge-sized cars. The '61 Lincolns were downsized, although probably not much lighter or fuel efficient, than their mammoth '58-60 forbears. And Mercury went from being a big, beefy monster to a glammed-up Ford.

    Of course, it wouldn't be long before nobody cared about fuel economy anymore, and the weight, length, and cubic inches would start piling on. But for one brief moment, say 1958-61, I think people did start caring about fuel economy and thrift again.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    The Corvair was a pretty daring move in 1960. Ford took the easy way out with the cheap and cheerful Ford Falcon, about as technically advanced as a 1935 Buick. The Valiant/Lancer was a bit more interesting, and really the most successful of the "compacts" in terms of performance, handling, with just the right touch of new tech such as tornsion bars and an alternator.

    As the Corvair was born a-dying, GM shoved the Chevy II into the mix.
  • euphoniumeuphonium Great Northwest, West of the Cascades.Member Posts: 3,425
    On 21 Oct 60 gasoline for the Corvair cost .299 here in WA. My records don't indicate if that was for Regular or Supreme.

    In 1950, I remember Regular Mobil was 5 gallons for $1 on Saturday mornings. Funny how first time experiences make an impression, fueling my '39 Chev 4 door.
  • wevkwevk Member Posts: 179
    "And even when the regular heater worked on the Corvair, the inefficient engine sealing sometimes caused oil to drip into the heater boxes, filling the passenger compartment with acrid smoke. Nice."

    Yes, very nice. On my commute I used to know exactly when, by location, to roll down the windows to ventilate the blue smoke that was about to billow out of the heater. (1964 Spyder convert). I seem to recall that the heater boxes covered both the block and headers so that a gasket leak would vent carbon monoxide into the interior There were stories of unconscious drivers running off the road.

    WVK
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    One wonders if GM was out to kill its customers sometimes.

    My favorite GM defect was defective motor mounts on the Impala V8s. They'd break, causing the engine to fall to one side on the steering, thereby locking it. Furthermore, as the engine fell, it would pull the throttle wide open; then as a final touch, the moving engine would pull the vacuum line out of the power brake.

    An assassin couldn't have planned it better, no?

    I'm no defender of very early Corvairs. I think they really did flip over pretty easily, and in fact I eye-witnessed one.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonMember Posts: 20,338
    Growing up in So. Calif, we rarely if ever used our heaters but I remember my dad's 1962 Volkswagen.

    It had a small knob on the floor that operated the heater. You had to turn it about 40 turns to full open the heater which took hot air off the manifolds.

    Same as with a Corvair. Any exhaust leaks would suck fumes right into the cabin.

    And, weak? After driving 20 minutes, you might be able to feel something.
  • andre1969andre1969 Member Posts: 24,881
    An assassin couldn't have planned it better, no?

    Funny you'd mention that. I saw "Capricorn One" the other night, and NASA pretty much did the same thing to Elliott Gould's Mustang in order to shut him up! As for that '65 Chevy motor mount issue, am I just imagining things, or when the engine shifted over, couldn't it jam the shift linkage to the transmission as well, possibly keeping you from being able to shift it into neutral? Or is that just a little TOO consipracy-theoristic of me?

    I've heard that the 1961-63 Pontiac Tempest, which also used swing axles, was actually worse than the Corvair, but somehow Ralph Nader missed that little scandal-in-the-making. I wonder what about the Tempest made it worse, though? Was it simply because it was more powerful, especially with a V-8, and that would make it much more catastrophic if you lost control?
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Member Posts: 4,600
    A higher center of gravity may have made the Tempest even less stable than the Corvair. I say "may" because I'm not aware of any direct comparisons between these two cars. However, I drive a '61 Tempest (4 cylinder) once, and tested its stability around corners. I also drove and rode in several '60-63 Corvairs. From my experience, I can tell you that the Corvair didn't tend to swing out and lose its composure in curves as much as the Tempest. I felt that the Tempest was truly dangerous. It had very little tolerance for accident avoidance maneuvers, for example. The '60-'63 Corvair had similar problems, but considerably less pronounced, from my recollection.

    Corvairs were low cars, with normal, for their day, 13' wheels and tires. The Tempest featured 15" wheels and relatively skinny tires. Normally, 15" is preferable to 13", but when the rear wheels tend to buckle under, when driving in a spirited manned (way less than recklessly), the greater diameter of the larger wheels and tires tend to exaggerate this aberrant behavior. Conversely, the lesser distance from the road to the axle in the Corvair, worked in the Corvair's favor vs. the Tempest.

    Quite aside from the handling, that 4 cylinder in the Tempest belonged in a farm tractor, not a car.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Member Posts: 4,600
    In answering andre's specific question, I gave a one-sided view of the Tempest. In fairness to Pontiac, the Tempest was quite innovative, and it was different from GM's other '61-'63 compacts. For example, in addition to the independent rear suspension and 15' wheels, which the Tempest didn't share with its Olds and Buick counterparts, the Tempest's drivetrain employed a unique drive shaft.

    For those of you who aren't familiar with the Tempest's driveshaft design, it consisted of a tunnel that spanned almost the length of the car. This tunnel housed a flexible steel driveshaft running on bearings residing inside a steel box. This unusual design forced it into a curve. This driveshaft became known as "rope drive." It connected the engine to a rear mounted unified differential and transmission in the rear. This combination of front-mounted engine and rear-mounted transaxle gave the Tempest a nearly-ideal 50/50 weight distribution. This was years before BMW made a big deal of this weight distribution. Another advantage of this driveshaft is that it eliminated the floor hump for front seat passengers.

    While Pontiac deserves credit for trying to make its compact better than Olds' and Buick's, it made the mistake of introducing this car before the bugs had been ironed out. The result was the handling problems covered in my previous message, plus the rope drive was prone to early failure. It lacked sufficient strength.

    It makes me think of how different automotive history would be if GM had learned from these mistakes.
  • oregonboyoregonboy Member Posts: 1,650
    made the mistake of introducing this car before the bugs had been ironed out.

    Geez, how many times did GM do THAT !? :sick:
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonMember Posts: 20,338
    Very good info!

    And, that "rope drive" axle made the BEST prybar in the world! If you were lucky enough to get your hands on one in a junkyard you really made a score!

    Once in awhile in an old time shop you can see one in a corner somewhere.
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