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All About Corvairs

camaroboycamaroboy Posts: 6
edited March 2014 in Chevrolet
I just bought a 1963 Corvair with all 64 parts and
I love it. I also work at The Corvair Ranch if
anyone else would like to talk about Corvair's or
would like info. about The Corvair Ranch write


  • nstone1nstone1 Posts: 2
    I'd definitley like some info. e-mail me at [email protected] I'm especially interested in the limited run of the 1969's.
  • nstone1,
    I hope you got my email. We ship cars to so don't worry about were you are in the country. I think you will be pleased if you buy a corvair. They may not have alot of horsepower but they look good and they are alot of fun to drive.
  • C13C13 Posts: 390
    I like the later body style. We had a few in the family when I was a callow youth.

    How does that stock turbocharger on the Corsa 180 hp engine hold up? How do the engines in general hold up?

    My choice would be a Corsa coupe. Never could talk the old man into it.
  • I have never seen any problems with the turbocharged engine. As far as the engines in general there are a few problems that can be solved easly. Thanks for your interest in Corvairs C13.
  • ralph124cralph124c Posts: 36
    My comments on the Corvair...a friend's dad had one, and it handled great-also had great gas mileage (as if anyone cared in the late '60s!). All in all, it was a pretty good design, much maligned by that charlatan (Ralph Nader). As I recall, he was the man who pioneered "social causes"-his m.o. was to research accident records, then concoct evil conspiracies (on the part of "evil" corporations). He would then write bogus exposes and launch class action lawsuits. In addition to the Corvair, he tried to "do in" the Volkswagon beetle (he dug up an obscure, 10 year old report from Sweden)-unfortunately fro him and his ilk, VW owners were too smart to buy his crap.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    Nader was actually right about the very early was not a car for the average inexperienced American driver of the time...I've seen one flip firsthand (right in front of me, just like RAlph said they would.) The phenomenon has been videotaped as well by track testers. It's really an extreme situation of a tight turn and with incorrect tire pressure, the very early cars will roll over.

    But the unfortunate thing was that Nader's criticism of the early cars stigmatized the later cars, which had been corrected and no longer exhibited all those handling problems.

    GM screwed themselves on the Corvair, it wasn't Nader's fault. Their response to his criticism was to hire private detectives to try and ruin his life. Great, just great...a $15 rear stabilizer would have have the problem of the rear wheel tuck and we'd probably have had an American Porsche.

    I had a 1966 Fitch Corvair for a while...outstanding car that could hold with most high performance foreign cars of the day, both in acceleration and handling.

    I like Corvairs a lot. I think the 1965 4-door hardtop is still one of the loveliest 4-doors every designed.
  • C13C13 Posts: 390
    Surely a nice engine from an old rusted 911 would help. The usual suspension mods. Modern (though conservative) tires.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    Problem with that, though, is you'd have an engine worth more than the car...and you'd be facing a $10,000 rebuild if you got too frisky.

    I did see a Porsche=powered Corvair van / camper conversion once that was beauifully done. Lotta work.

    Interesting you mentioned this conversion, when GM was firt testing the Corvair in 57-58, they ran around the country in a Porsche 356 powered by a prototype Corvair they anticipated the porsche 911 by 6-7 years!
  • SpedmanSpedman Posts: 15
    Camaroboy, do you work at the Corvair Ranch in Gettysburg, PA? If so, I visited you about 2 years ago when I bought a 64 Monza convertible at an auction at a vo-tech high school outside Annapolis. I had to return it because it was in simply horrible mechanical shape. The school was good enough to take it back.
    I'm still looking for a 64 Corvair convertible with an automatic. I'm willing to pay market value but it has to be in very good condition and pass muster with Lee Hamilton, a well known Corvair repairman near Annapolis. If you have any lines on such a car please let me know.
  • C13C13 Posts: 390
    Please post Hamilton's address.
  • C13C13 Posts: 390
  • stub2stub2 Posts: 5
    I have owned several Corvairs from a '63 spyder conv. to a '65 monza (which turned into a "corv8") also several '65-69 corsa's, 140hp -180hp. fun little cars. I sold them all and got into Harleys I wish I had kept the corv 8.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    what's a "corv8" engine transplant?
  • C13C13 Posts: 390
    That reminds me.

    I knew a kid who installed a water-cooled domestic engine in a Corvair and cut a hole in front for a radiator. Very crude looking. He said it was reliable, and this particular kid was not much of a braggart, so I'm inclined to believe him. I think he used a Buick V6.

    He's a car designer now for a major firm. The Corvair was kind of a high school project. You shouldn't hold it against him.
  • stub2stub2 Posts: 5
    A corv 8 is a corvair with the trans-axel turned over and a chev 327 installed where the rear seat used to be.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    Thank you...yes, many people forgot that the Corvair engine runs "backwards" from most engines, and when they put them in VWs found out that they had 4 reverse speeds and one forward.
  • stub2stub2 Posts: 5
    I am an aircraft mechanic so I am used to engines turning different directions.
  • C13C13 Posts: 390
    How about a nice Lycoming in a Corvair?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    Then it would be a Corv- "air" because it might go airborne after 100 mph. Actually, those 6 cylinder Lycoming aircraft engines are beautifully built and would cost about 3 times the price of the car say nothing of being built to run at a fairly constant rpm range....but I think the Corvair engine, with proper mods and upgrades, can be made into a very decent and reliable powerplant...basically nothing wrong with it except it's lazy.

    I will say one unqualified good thing about the Corvair, that is the 1965 on up drum brakes I ever tried on a car.
  • crv65crv65 Posts: 1
    I am trying to find a red steering wheel for my 65 Monza Convert. I can't find it in Clarks catalog (maybe I'm not looking in the right place). Anyone know where to find one?
  • camaroboycamaroboy Posts: 6
    Did you call the Corvair Ranch we can get you just about anything.
  • SpedmanSpedman Posts: 15
    Camaroboy, I called them. they were a big help and are keeping an eye out for me for the kind of car I'm looking for.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,287
    Just curious...Is the Corvair Ranch anything like the Mustang Ranch?
  • camaroboycamaroboy Posts: 6
    I don't have a clue I have never heard of the Rustang Ranch. But if it is alot of junk mustangs it's the samething.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,287
    I don't think they have any junk Mustangs but, like the Corvair Ranch, I think you can get almost anything you may be looking for!

    So, I guess they are similar...
  • C13C13 Posts: 390
    I think that at the Mustang Ranch you could even get something you weren't looking for, in spite of their much-touted testing program.

    The models at the Corvair Ranch probably have lower mileage and a lot less abuse.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,287
    Yes, but who knows if the odometers have been rolled back?

    Oh, what some will pay just for a comfortable ride!
  • jwilson1jwilson1 Posts: 956
    What a great topic -- the corvair part, I mean -- I hope it comes back to life.

    I go past a gray, primed 65-67 Corsa coupe on my way to work. It's for sale and if anyone's interested in details, email me and I'll be glad to stop for info.

    I used to rally a 65 (140) Corsa w/a college friend. What an experience that was! All was fine except the very awkward throws with the long shifter that made it feel a bit like a stand-up bread truck when you missed a gate & had to search for the gear! Loved it.

    But we were cool cuz I had lakes pipes I could uncap for some extra noise. Fun. (Don't tell my kids!)

    Take care.
    Joe W.
  • cgoetzecgoetze Posts: 7
    camaroboy Does the corvair ranch have a website or do they still use snailmail for brochures/catalogues? I would be interested in finding out more about them.
  • I can't remember the model name, but it had that overhang roof in the back and the automatic transmission shifter looked more like a toggle switch than a gear shifter, but my dad loved that car. Chicago to Los Angeles for summer vacations. Wow, going down route 66 in this car was an absolute blast. My dad bought this crazy "air conditioner". You added block ice in this resevoir, plugged the thing into the cigarette lighter, turned the fans on and instant frostbite. My sister and I were small enough that if my dad wanted to do an all-nighter, my sister would stretch out on the back seat. My dad would pull two suitcases out of the front trunk and put one on either side of the transmission hump so the surface was even. He'd put an airmattress on top of that, and I slept like a baby directly behind the front seats. Dad learned how to drive in a 56 BelAire, but his first car was the '65 Corvair. I remember, even to this day, his comments about the shape of the car and how well it drove. Personally, I think if the Corvair had continued it's evolution, we wouldn't have had the Camaro to compete with the Mustang. Chevrolet had the Corvair and that was good enough for my dad.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    It's one of the few cars I really thought should have been retained and developed, in spite of poor sales...but as it turned out, rear engined cars were not the wave of the future, it was FWD...back in 1965, I never would have guessed that myself.

    I think the modern Corvair is the Dodge Neon...I can see the same pattern....lots of promise, then some problems, then the manufacturer slowly backing away, producing fewer models and options, and one day looking at the consumer and saying "Really, did we make that car? Gosh, we don't remember!"
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,287
    Shifty, did you really say that Corvairs were front wheel drive?

    You are a guy who doesn't usually make mistakes.

    You did this time, buddy!

    Rear wheel drive all of the way!
  • C13C13 Posts: 390
    The mistake is yours, Hondaman. Read it again.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,287
    How could I ever have doubted Mr. S's expertise.

    I guess I read too fast!

    My humble apologies!


    What is with the server problems? It's almost impossible to use this!
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    It's being worked on as we speak! Sorry for the delays online everybody!
  • kuz1kuz1 Posts: 10
    Dad has the Corvair so bare with me on the details! I could remember riding around in these cars as a little kid and having a ball with the top down. Those were the days!!! Dad has one left of three that he owned and is wanting to get rid of this one! He already has two projects started one being a 34 Plymouth coup and the other a 59 El Cameno. The Corvair is in the way or he would say he is running out of years! The Corvair (if I could remember correctly)is a 65 Monza 2 Dr hard top 140 horse with 4 aces on top. He said I could go over there now and hear it run, I believe him but I didn't have the time to go over the house. I would ask for the car myself but I already have my own project a 70 Chevelle SS that need all the time I could give it after my projects get done around the house! The car is in N.E.PA Leave a note if your interested! Great Little cars!!!!
  • Mr. Shiftright should know that the "videotape" (actually a film) of the Corvair flipping over was done at the FORD proving ground. An expert analysis of this film shows the driver deliberately mis-handling the car to cause the flip, as can be done by any of hundreds of Hollywood stunt people. The ALLEGED handling problems of the Corvair were proven to be just that - alleged. See the Senate report published in 1971. Joey Chitwood used pre-1964 Corvairs in his thrill show, and never tired of saying that it was the easiest car to drive on two wheels that he ever used... I have put well over 200K miles on Corvairs, mostly earlies (swing axles), and have never had the oversteering problem rear its ugly head. My current '64 coupe, 110hp/4-speed, is steadier in crosswinds than my Grand Marquis. With about 85-90 net horsepower, I have had this Corvair to 105mph on the speedometer (off the dial), about 95 actual.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    As you know, I'm a Corvair lover, but I must say I do think the 60-64 Corvair IS a dangerous car, no doubt in my mind anyway. I saw one flip right in front of me on an interstate BUT it does require some conditions--one, a long sweeping high speed turn and b) incorrect tire pressures.

    In 1965, there is a completely redesigned rear suspension and the car is perfectly fine--a great handler, actually.

    But honestly, you wouldn't get me into a 60-64 Corvair unless I was driving it and had inspected it beforehand. I think Nader was right, more or less, but not very precise.

    This is unlike the Audi 5000 "sudden-acceleration" business, which appears to be nothing more than a hatchet job by "60 Minutes", at least as far as current evidence suggests.
  • I think the proper tire pressure on my 63 Spyder was 34 rear 22 front; if you did that, the car was a dream; if you had an oil change and they "fixed" your tire pressure to 30 all around the care would head for the ice plant. That was the only problem except you couldn't keep valves in it. Regards. JOHN HOUTS
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    Yeah, I think the basic car was pretty darn was just underdeveloped and then neglected by GM. A little more R&D and it would have made a comeback I think, and proven to be perfect for the 1973 gas crunch market. The "American Porsche" that never was...sigh...
  • C13C13 Posts: 390
    ...what development work would have enabled the Corvair to live up to its potential?

    Stiffer chassis? More sophisticated suspension?

    Anything that's within the capability of a modern-day Corvair enthusiast with some disposable income? Any components that could be adapted from junked 356s and 911s?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    Not really, not in any dramatic way. If you drive around in a very nicely restored 1965 for instance, which is really as good as it gets, you know immediately you are in 1965. Of course, you could do like Fitch did on his special Corvairs, and use great tires, hi-grade shocks, shorter shift throws and quicker steering and a juicier engine, and all that helps a WHOLE LOT, but it's still not going to outperform your average 4-door Accord, and you still have to deal with oil leaks and funky heater systems and god awful seats and the lot.

    Corvair engines run in the opposite direction from VW or Porsche engines, so you have a big problem to solve there, vis a vis conversions. And if one is thinking of stuffing a Porsche engine in a Corvair, geez, save the time and money and buy a Porsche and be happy.

    I think that if they had beefed up the engine and made it breath right, and if they had sorted out the turbo system (which gave boost only at extreme rpm that the engine could barely reach or use), and redesigned the heater/ventilation business, put in supportive seats, did all of Fitch's improvements, worked on engine sealing, put on at least front disk brakes, bumped up build quality a notch or two---then they might have had a winner, IMO. But all the GM performance juice went into the Camaro and Corvette, so that was that.
  • I read Mr. Nader's book and disagree with him. I bought a new 1962 Corvair Monza Convertible (in 1962). I owned it for over 3 years, putting over 40,000 miles on it and never witnessed the handling problems that Nader discussed. It was driven in heavy snow and in many other conditions and handled superbly. My wife still states it was one of her favorite cars. My only complaints were that the car rusted rather quickly and would throw fan belts on a regular basis.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    Well, I saw one flip in front of my eyes, and believe me, it didn't hit anything and didn't swerve, the damn thing just went over on its side in a long, sweeping high speed turn. I didn't believe Nader before that either, and I think he did exaggerate and grandstand the problem, but there it was, I saw just tucked under and rolled. A serious pothead was driving, true, so tires pressures, etc. may have been way off, but cars shouldn't flip if you have the wrong amount of air in them!
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,287
    An early VW bug with a Corvair engine installed?

    Man! what a sleeper! I knew a kid that had one! I didn't know at the time, and he pulled a wheelie as he SMOKED my '62 Buick Special V-8!

    Only the engine cover was different. It had a bulge in it to cover the larger engine.

    As I remember, it didn't take him long to grenade the old VW transmission.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    How'd he ever fit in it? One funny thing used to happen on these conversions sometimes, when people would put Corvair engines in VW vans to give them some power--on occasion, the people doing the conversion were unaware that the Corvair engine runs backwards from the VW, so unless you flip the pinion gear you get four revere speeds and one forward.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    Just a second thought...that kind of conversion is really silly, since the Corvair is only putting out 140 hp on a good day and you could build a very hot VW engine for a lot less trouble.
  • ca8ca8 Posts: 3
    Just stopped by to say hello. We are working on a 65 turbo which my wife bought when she was in high school.

    I hope to have it ready for SCCA Solo 2 running this next season.
    I have found that Clarks Corvair is excellent for parts and information. They have a web site which is helpful and you can order parts on line.
    Best of luck to all corvair owners

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    Thank you Wayne, looks like a great site.

    Here's the link for those who are interested:

    Good luck on your project--you picked a great model to put your time and energy into. My favorite is the '65 Fitch coupe.

    I'm curious--how do you propose to make the turbo of any use on the low end of the power band?
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,287
    I don't know how he did it. I think there was a company that sold some kind of an adapter kit at the time.

    The extra weight of the Corvair engine made the front end even lighter. That's why he could pull the wheels off the ground. It was a sight to see...

    In those days, I don't think there was a whole lot of hop up equipment for the bugs like there is today.

    But now you've got me wondering...Those engines did turn the opposite way. How did that work?

    I can tell you this...IT WORKED ! That '63 Beetle could kick butt!
This discussion has been closed.