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Danny Shields
Danny Shields HalfDork
5/14/19 5:13 a.m.

Fifty years ago today, May 14, 1969, the last Chevy Corvair was built. The innovative car had been manufactured for just ten model years.

Who has some Corvair memories to share? I know there is plenty of love for Corvairs in the GRM community.  Since Ralph Nader and his book, "Unsafe at Any Speed" played a big role in the car's history, I will start, with this lovely example of an early 'Vair displayed in Nader's American Museum of Tort Law in Winsted, CT.  (See, it is jacked up and has mirrors underneath to show how swing axle suspension works! You can see part of the flaming Pinto exhibit in the background, but that is a story for another day.)

Clean, graceful lines for sure.

AngryCorvair
AngryCorvair MegaDork
5/14/19 5:24 a.m.

pimpm3
pimpm3 SuperDork
5/14/19 5:58 a.m.

I think the late model corvair is one of the most beautiful 60's cars GM produced.

...but I am kinda biased 

Feedyurhed
Feedyurhed UltraDork
5/14/19 6:24 a.m.
pimpm3 said:

I think the late model corvair is one of the most beautiful 60's cars GM produced.

...but I am kinda biased 

That is a beautiful Corvair.  GM so often seems to improve, develop and perfect a model then kill it off. 

outasite
outasite HalfDork
5/14/19 6:39 a.m.

BIL had a 65 in late 60s. He was in HS and drove it hard. The generator belt would come off with high revs. Always carried a spare belt.

AngryCorvair
AngryCorvair MegaDork
5/14/19 7:29 a.m.

In reply to pimpm3 :

you are correct.

Hokie69
Hokie69 New Reader
5/14/19 7:51 a.m.

Had a '62 Monza that taught me a lot about why you don't brake late in a corner !

Then a '65 Corsa ,140 hp that was a vast improvement. Would have kept it much longer if the tin worms hadn't gotten the better of it.  Too bad GM gave up on them so early.

Danny Shields
Danny Shields HalfDork
5/14/19 8:32 a.m.

In reply to pimpm3 :

That is a great looking car, fitting right in among the American classics on the fairway at Amelia Island. 

alfadriver
alfadriver MegaDork
5/14/19 8:36 a.m.

In reply to Danny Shields :

Danny, 1969 was only 50 years ago....  Don't make me older than I am.

Danny Shields
Danny Shields HalfDork
5/14/19 8:44 a.m.

In reply to alfadriver :

Thanks, fixed that!   

Jim Pettengill
Jim Pettengill HalfDork
5/14/19 9:32 a.m.

My first car was a '63 Monza that I "inherited" when my parents bought a '68.  Ran my first couple of TSD rallies in it, then my first three autocrosses (without rolling - oversteer can be helpful on the tight courses that were common back then).  It was slow (had the one-year-only 3.08 final drive), but fun, and actually very trouble free, except for the occasional fan belt.  You got so you could change a belt really fast with a big screwdriver and a 9/16 wrench and always carried a couple of spares.  After GM added the guard on the belt, if you used quality belts and kept them adjusted right, the problem virtually disappeared.

Best competitive experiences were in SCCA Pro Rally between 1975 and 1984, which was what stage rally was called back then.  I co-drove for two different Corvair teams, best national finish was a 9th overall at Big Bend Bash (I think around 1981 or so), best Divisional was a second overall at Gold Rush in Victor/Cripple Creek Colorado in around 1983.  We ran in open class - 66 turbo on a very low budget, just a couple of nationals a year because we lived in New Mexico, which was a huge tow anywhere other than Big Bend.  The car was carefully prepared for reliability, but mostly stock-ish:  2200 pounds with full tank and one spare tire, engine balanced and with exhaust wrapped and virtually a straight pipe from the turbo out the back (1-foot long, large inside diameter bullet glass pack, rules required a muffler) so we got good boost in first gear with very little lag, seam welded, Bilsteins with GM convertible sport springs, 3.55 posi, big aluminum skid plates.  We did pretty well because we generally entered rough events and drove to finish, letting the fast guys break.  Corvairs are still one of my favorite cars ever, I'll always love them.  My parents were dyed-in-the-wool Chevy people, but after GM killed the 'Vair, they never bought another Chevy, switching to BMW and Volvo.

Another friend ran a Corv-8 in open road events, with a few wins, radared at over 200 mph several times.

 

pimpm3
pimpm3 SuperDork
5/14/19 10:25 a.m.
Danny Shields said:

In reply to pimpm3 :

That is a great looking car, fitting right in among the American classics on the fairway at Amelia Island. 

Thank you!  It was amazing how many people had a story about a corvair.

I talked to people from all over the country.  It was a really cool experience.

1988RedT2
1988RedT2 UltimaDork
5/14/19 11:15 a.m.

Best quote I've ever heard/read regarding the Corvair:  "The kind of cars we should have had in the 70's, and didn't."

Mustang50
Mustang50 New Reader
5/14/19 11:40 a.m.

My first car was a 62 Red Corvair I bought for $400 in June of 67.  I drove it like all over the place including to my first big race the 67 Trans Am at Mid Ohio won by Jerry Titus.  Sold it for $400 in December before I went in the Navy.

Also had a hot rod 65 I bought in 75.  It had a hot cam, headers, and a tube intake with a 4 barrel.  The guy who built it put a spring tensioner for the fan belt.  It never came off no matter how high the revs.  It was totaled by a drunk sitting at the curb one night.

Wish I had it back.

Steelpig
Steelpig New Reader
5/14/19 12:43 p.m.

My first car was a hand-me down Corvair.  It was a 66 Corsa convertible, black with white top and interior.   I had a ton of fun in that car and learned a lot about cars in the process.   It was a pretty good handling car for the time.   Eventually rust claimed it.  I was pulling away from a stop sign and the right rear trailing arm broke.  I couldn't go forward, but I could go backwards.  I drove in reverse for 1.5 miles to get it home.   Recently I began looking for one, which naturally coincides with their uptick in prices.

MotorsportsGordon
MotorsportsGordon HalfDork
5/14/19 1:31 p.m.

My dad won a couple of ice dice championships with this 66 500 95 hp powerglide coupe.

MotorsportsGordon
MotorsportsGordon HalfDork
5/14/19 1:33 p.m.
1988RedT2 said:

Best quote I've ever heard/read regarding the Corvair:  "The kind of cars we should have had in the 70's, and didn't."

or the 80s as bill mitchell said in a mid 80s interview 

 

ShawnG
ShawnG PowerDork
5/14/19 2:06 p.m.

My neighbour when I was a teenager built swap kits to put Corvair engines in VW products.

That's all I got.

MotorsportsGordon
MotorsportsGordon HalfDork
5/14/19 2:19 p.m.

Brought to us by the same man who brought us the small block Chevy,the first air bags,first production catalytic converters,among other things mr ed cole.

M2Pilot
M2Pilot Dork
5/14/19 3:58 p.m.

I had a convertible from 73  to 75.  It was pretty rough and already had Flintstone floorboards.   We enjoyed it. Best experience was driving along forest roads the winter of '73 or '74 looking for & finding a Christmas tree with my 5 year old daughter & practice wife #1.  We found a nice tree,poached it, and drove home with through the snow with the top down.  Just in time for the 55 mph national speed limit, it started flipping the fan belt at around 57 mph. 

aircooled
aircooled MegaDork
5/14/19 4:42 p.m.

They never did find the last produced Corvair, no one knows where it went.

A VERY unique car, especially for the time.  Which of course was a bit of it's downfall.  It was apparently very expensive to produce because of that.  I did notice, on a Corvair message board, that a large number of Corvair owners where some sort of engineer.  I think the attraction is that there is a lot of unique stuff to tinker with that hasn't been done many times over (e.g. Mustang, Camaro)

I got into Corvairs because I saw them as a more sophisticated VW.  Both of which felt familiar (having grown up around and in small planes) because of the direct air heater and associated oder.  I have owned and used as a daily driver a Corvair since the late 80's.  I got my car recorded for the sound of Mr Hollands Opus (and another silly movie) because my sound editor roommate at the time had no source sound for a Corvair.  Balls of fun at an Auto-X (which are now very sparse in LA).

Ended up getting t-boned in my 65 years ago, which resulted in me modernizing the safety features in my car to make it a more reasonable driver (roll cage, auto-retract harness).  Sound proofed the car and eventually added a 5-speed.  All of which makes the car a pretty reasonable car even in the modern world.  I added headers (that I thought I would swap out as needed) but ended up loving the sound so much, they have been on every since and are not too loud thanks to my sound proofing.

ShawnG
ShawnG PowerDork
5/14/19 6:44 p.m.

Don't forget about the Fitch Sprint.

outasite
outasite HalfDork
5/14/19 7:28 p.m.

Yenko Stinger

GIRTHQUAKE
GIRTHQUAKE Reader
5/14/19 9:22 p.m.

My neighbor had several 2nd gen Corvairs long before I ever got "into" cars. While the first generations looks great, the 2nd gens to me are one of the most beautiful cars ever built.

GTwannaB
GTwannaB HalfDork
5/14/19 11:27 p.m.

Learned to drive in my sister’s 66 automatic. Learned to drive stick in my brother’s 65. My first drive tonight my own was with the 4 speed Corvair. My brother had just adjusted the shift linkage which gave me no reverse. Didn’t know until I pulled into traffic and had to back out. Luckily it was a convertible and my buddies jumped out and pushed it backwards. Nothing but fun memories of those vehicles. I remember shopping for one 30 years ago and there was a guy in Jersey with like 50 of them in a yard and shop including a crown V8. Couldn’t find the match and never actually owned one. Somewhere I still have the plaque for wining the stick class in the only track event I ever drove in my brother’s other nicer Corvair at Lime Rock. 

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