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    CHEVROLET CORVAIR MONZA SPYDER

    RUN BY Martin Buckley
    OWNED SINCE August 2016
    PREVIOUS REPORT Nov 2017

    / #Chevrolet-Corvair-Monza-Spyder / #Chevrolet-Corvair-Monza / #Chevrolet-Corvair / #Chevrolet / #GM

    The Corvair is now running. In fact, I commuted to my shed in it for a whole week in November before a carburettor leak stopped play (probably caused by a blocked fuel filter and/or a rusty fuel tank). A few electrical things remain on the to-do list, and I haven’t worked out yet how to make the heater function – although warm air does waft in from somewhere.

    But the point is that the car is on the road after months – possibly even years – of frustration. You may recall that I destroyed the diff in 2017 and decided to give the engine some love, on the basis that it had to come out anyway. The diff turned up in the post one morning from Clark’s Corvair – a nice surprise for me, if not for the delivery driver.
    Meanwhile, I ordered a variety of additional parts (standard rings, gaskets, a seal for the turbo and engine-shroud seals) and sent the heads over to Gardias Engine Services in Witney to lap the valves and re-cut the seats.

    By the end of May, my master mechanic Gus had everything he needed and was all set to rebuild the #flat-six . But he’s a busy boy with his Mercedes work and it wasn’t until September that he called to say it was time to get the car back to him in Swindon. A month later, Gus drove the Corvair over to me with instructions to use it and see how I get on. It starts easily and is pleasant to drive – I’m not sure what I was expecting, performance-wise, but the vacuum gauge on the dash indicates that the turbo is working. What I can say is that it feels relatively sluggish in first and second but seems to get on its toes in third and pulls well. Reading contemporary reports, this sounds about right but I can’t tell you much about what speeds it gets up to – the speedometer is stuck at 90mph. Also, the rev counter seems to be running some way behind.

    The gearchange is on the stiff side but the clutch is light and the brakes are effective enough, if slightly wooden in feel. The engine has a lovely growl and, because Gus has had the various shrouds repainted, it looks smart. I still need to rescue its battery from a Datsun Fairlady (it’s a peculiarly long, tall shape) and Gus would like to tidy up the wiring and cure a small oil leak.

    One thing that desperately needed sorting was the window in the hood, which afforded virtually zero rear vision and was plain dangerous on the road. However, once my father-in-law had attacked it with a buffing wheel and fine cutting paste, a huge improvement was achieved. The hood is pretty good otherwise, as are the white plastic seats and red carpets.

    But what you really want to know about is the handling. The truth is, I have not had a proper play with it, but even without the important differential between front and rear tyre pressures it feels very acceptable. Dropping the fronts by 10lb gives a lot more weight to the light, low-geared steering, and even then you can virtually park the Corvair with one finger. You would have to be quite committed to get into trouble, but I’ll give it a try and get back to you. The car’s future on the fleet is still in the balance, but the more I look at it, the more I like the Corvair. It is cheeky-looking but elegant, with a pretty tail treatment. These aesthetic observations have gone over the head of my wife, who was traumatised by towing me back to the shed when the diff ate itself and has also been watching hours of YouTube films showing them flipping on their sides.

    However, she’s the sort of person who would drive a skip if you told her it was a convertible, so I predict a more positive attitude in this parish when the sun comes out.

    THANKS TO
    Δ Gardias Engine Services: 01993 703053
    Δ Clark’s Corvair: www.corvair.com
    Δ Gus Meyer

    All painted, the engine looks in fine fettle

    Gus Meyer rebuilt the engine, and gave strict instructions: “Drive it and see how it goes”

    The Corvair is back on the road, but its time could soon be up – unless it continues to charm
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    Buying Guide Chevrolet Camaro Mk1 1966-1969

    Posted in Cars on Wednesday, 23 January 2019

    Buy a Chevy Camaro the smart way. Prices are rising and parts supply is excellent, so here’s how to buy one with wisdom. Words Richard Dredge. Photography Julian Sandiford.

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