- Post is under moderationCHEVROLET 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.
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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- Post is under moderationUNRELIABLE AT ANY SPEED
Car #Chevrolet-Corvair-Monza-Spyder / #Chevrolet-Corvair-Monza / #Chevrolet-Corvair / #Chevrolet / #GM
Run by Martin Buckley
Owned since August 2016
Total mileage 47,615
Miles since April
report approx 50
Latest costs £375
The Corvair has proved troublesome and its future has hung in the balance a few times – particularly because I had a variety of people who wanted to buy it, although they typically evaporated when I actually got serious about the idea. I got particularly depressed when a pair of fellow Corvair owners/ journalists turned up at my shed with a beautiful 700 Powerglide sedan, which, more than ever, looks like the variant I really wanted. Yet here I was stuck with this opentopped turbo thing that wouldn’t even make it to the MoT test station without throwing off its fanbelt or lobbing a hubcap 150 yards into a field (one task is finding a way of getting them to cope with my cornering speeds).
What with the belts and the dynamo problem, I had so many failed attempts at getting the car to the MoT that Mr Tester got the hump with me and we had a fall-out. I managed to get the proper fanbelt from Clarke’s Corvair. It has to be a ‘V’ rather than a modern toothed type that you run fairly loose. The fanbelt problem was followed by a refusal to idle or run properly, but Gus Meyer sorted that when he discovered that a plug had come out of the carb – it was letting air in and leaning itself off. When it was running properly, it felt quite nice, although with very light steering that suggests I need to look at the tyre pressures. A large variance between front and rear is essential if you don’t want to end up as one of Mr Nader’s statistics.
The brakes are pretty good and the ride excellent but I was becoming aware of a noisy differential as well as a persistent and fairly copious oil leak from that general area. I ignored it on the basis that it might go away ‘with use’ when a ‘dry’ seal swelled sufficiently to start working, which always sounds like a rather optimistic prediction.
Sure enough it didn’t work and the diff was getting noisier, so I decided to have a proper drive of it to try to get to the bottom of what was going on; ‘proper’ in this instance being returning home from my shed one Sunday evening.
Well, I almost made it home: going into the roundabout two minutes from safety, I felt and heard something give way: all drive was lost and I just about made it to the traffic lights with a ’box full of neutrals and graunching noises from the rear. A friendly Audi driver helped me push the accursed thing around the corner out of the way. Mia and I then spent the next hour towing the Corvair back to the shed on a rotten old bit of rope that kept snapping until it was replaced with a wonderful AA one that I got from the BP garage.
A few days later, Gus had taken both the engine and gearbox out and investigated the differential. The crownwheel and pinion had chewed each other to bits and the casing had cracked. In other words, there was really nothing to be done other than buy another diff.
Investigating US eBay unearthed a rebuilt unit for $450, which seemed a bit steep, particularly with the outrageous shipping costs on top, never mind the taxes. With some digging, I found a solution. Clarke’s Corvair had a 3.55:1 diff for $90 and would send it to Texas for sensible money. From there, a company from Northamptonshire, Topspeed Automotive, would stick it in a container with a load of other gear and ship it back here for £65. Hopefully, by the time you read this I will have collected it from Wellingborough. I also invested in three new engine mountings and Gus is going to look at the various seals on the engine while it’s out.
On a more positive note, it did finally get an MoT, which meant that I could get a V5C and numberplates. I still need to sort something out with the plastic rear window in the hood, though. I suspect the summer will be a distant memory before I get the Corvair out on the road as a reliable prospect. Meanwhile, I can only press on with it and hope it starts behaving itself.
Gus Meyer Clarke’s Corvair: corvair.com
Framptons numberplates: www.framptonsplates.com
Topspeed Automotive: 01932 506070
Removing the Corvair’s engine and gearbox turned out to be a surprisingly straightforward job. The seals will be checked while everything’s accessible.
Refitting radio was a purely cosmetic job.
Nice raised-digit plates from Framptons.
The offending diff, which is being replaced after leaving Buckley stranded in CirencesterStream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationAMERICAN BOXER CHARMS NOVICE
CAR: #Chevrolet-Corvair-Monza-Spyder / #Chevrolet-Corvair-Monza / #Chevrolet-Corvair-Spyder / #Chevrolet / #Chevrolet-Corvair / #GM /
Run by Martin Buckley
Owned since August 2016
Total mileage 47,615
Miles since acquisition none
Latest costs £350
The Corvair is an itch that I have wanted to scratch for years, maybe decades. The curiosity started with a book called Corvair Affair by Mike Knepper that I got hold of in the early 1980s. The idea was reignited by a group test I did on a full set of early cars a couple of years ago in LA (February 2014).
I love the shape of them, the sound they make and all the intrigue and scandal that seems to surround the poor things – I even bought a copy of Ralph Nader’s Unsafe at Any Speed, which is actually a good read. They tick lots of boxes that needed ticking. For starters, I have never owned an American car before, or anything with an aircooled flat-six and, what with 911s being so pricey, the Corvair is probably my only chance of that. They are a lot cheaper than 911s and, while they are in no way a substitute for the German car, they do make a similar noise.
It had to be an early, 1959-’1964 model and my preference was for a saloon rather than a coupe or a convertible. I missed a tidy enough one that was due to be sold out of the Calne museum collection a couple of years back. Then, about 12 months ago, my friend Fredrik Folkestad (of DKW fame) decided he was never, realistically, going to do anything with his Monza turbo convertible – did I want to buy it? “Yes” was the answer as I put my purist views to one side. The four-door saloon is the ‘important’ car, but, if you are going to plough money into a Corvair, a Monza Spyder Turbo is the way to go. The history file dates back only to 1989 and, from what I can tell, it was imported into Sweden in 2006; Fredrik brought it into the UK in 2010. He lobbed out on quite a few new parts for the engine in the first flush of enthusiasm, but, with so many projects on the go, he never quite got it running properly.
So, when the Corvair arrived with me, it was mechanically a mystery though it seemed tidy. It’s pretty much rust-free, but had rather flat paint. I’m resisting the urge to respray it beause it looks decent from 10 feet and the panels are so straight it’s clearly a nice car.
The interior tends to suggest that the 47,000 mileage is correct and UK Detailing did a great job on the trim and paint, bringing it up beautifully. To be honest, it now looks smart from five feet. The hood is in good condition and I managed to adjust the catches to get it to seal acceptably. Having said that, the Californian heat has ravaged most of the rubber seals.
Dougal Cawley at Longstone suggested a set of period-type XAS Michelins, which got rid of the whitewalls and even made the awful fake wire hubcaps look almost acceptable. Normal trims remain my preference, though. In terms of getting the Corvair sorted, it has been in the hands of Gus Meyer in Swindon, who usually works on my Mercedes but is happy to tackle anything. On his initial consultation he spent time chasing manifold leaks, sorting stripped threads, establishing that the engine had compression and then setting up the points, timing and hydraulic tappets. He got it running, though not to his total satisfaction and there was still the question of the brakes, which at the very least needed a new master cylinder. I ordered one from New York and waited until Gus could fit me in again a few weeks later, by which time it had turned up.
On the second visit, Gus changed all the belts, sorted the brakes and discovered that the poor running was down to a missing plug in the throttle body that was causing it to run too lean. He also found that some essential bits were missing from the dynamo, which is why it wasn’t charging; I have an alternator conversion kit on the way from America.
The only difficult thing was finding a battery to fit because the Corvair has a particularly long, narrow space for it. Shield Batteries’ Yeovil branch sorted me out with a correct size unit for £159. Meanwhile, I await the alternator (which Gus will come over to fit) and I might even risk putting the Corvair through an MoT test.
THANKS TO Gus Meyer
Longstone Tyres: 01302 711123
Shield Batteries, Yeovil: 01935 848661
UK Detailing, Cirencester: 01285 770090
Ian Sealy of UK Detailing did a fine job of bringing lustre back to the dull paintwork. The Corvair’s influential lines inspired NSUs and the Hillman Imp. Nader slated GM’s costcutting on design. Roomy cabin in ‘compact’ Corvair ragtop. Flat-six proclaims ‘150hp’ on the turbo. Upholstery transformed after a bit of TLC. Buckley adjusted hood and cleaned screen.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
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Not unsafe at any speed. Sam Glover buys a 1960 Chevrolet Corvair and thrashes it 5410 miles across the USA. Team Adventure Sam Glover finds the longest route to bring his new purchase home. Across America - Sam Glover’s epic adventure. Words and photos Sam Glover.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
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- Post is under moderationCHEVROLET CORVAIR CORSA
Year of manufacture #1965
Recorded mileage 2075
Asking price £12,500
Vendor Steve Reed, Failsworth, Manchester; tel: 07907 331649; e-mail: email@example.com
WHEN IT WAS NEW
CAR #Chevrolet-Corvair-Corsa / #Chevrolet-Corvair / #Chevrolet /
Price c£2300 (UK special order)
Max power 180bhp
Max torque 265lb ft
0-60mph 10.9 secs
Top speed 114mph
This Corvair – a rarity in the UK – was imported by the owner from Florida in 2011, and is for sale only because he now wants something different. Structurally excellent – still with well-defined spot-welds on the sill joints and in the wheelarch lips – it was repainted in the UK, and the left flank had to be re-done after a parking scrape. The slight sinkage is just visible, as are tiny bubbles on the left-rear wheelarch and right-hand door – plus a couple of scrapes on the rear bumper and a ding in the rear ’screen trim. Overall, the appearance is excellent, though, and the bright wheelarch trims were left off to give a cleaner look – but everything is available for these cars from the US. The tyres are Endura radials, half worn on the front having previously seen service on the back. Vendor Reed has had a fourwheel alignment check done, so the car tracks straight. And this is the model with the revised rear suspension, so Ralph Nader jokes won’t apply.
The seat vinyl is factory, while the carpets are lightly soiled and faded. It has the Corsa-specification extra instruments under the dashboard, too. The turbo flat-six is tidy and original, with clean oil over the ‘max’ mark and the correct airbox. You could spend hours pondering the labyrinthine fan/alternator drivebelt, which turns more corners than a Peugeot 305’s. The 2687cc flat-six starts readily, sounding much better from outside the car than from the driver’s seat. It drives a bit like a big Beetle, in the gearchange department in particular – this car has the $92 optional fourspeed ’box, where a three-speed was standard. There’s plenty of torque, but the turbo doesn’t seem to wake up until about 3500rpm, where the manifold pressure gauge shows 5psi of boost. The all-drum brakes have a firm pedal and pull up okay, but there’s a little play in the steering, though it’s the lightness that strikes you first. Oil pressure is at least 30psi and cylinder-head temperature was 300ºF – running to a maximum 400º, says the owner, which is the mid-way point. The MoT runs until January.
EXTERIOR Repainted, but not quite perfect
INTERIOR All original, and in smart order
MECHANICALS Drives well and feels healthy; sorted in the US prior to import
For Good-looking and unusual; excellent overall condition
Against Only the aficionados will get it; minor paint blemishes
SHOULD I BUY IT?
As an interesting and attractive alternative to a junior Mustang and a Karmann Ghia, it seems fine value.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
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