1965 Chevrolet Corvair Corsa: Fitch Special

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I have owned several Corvair Corsas, beginning with a 1966 turbo convertible in 1969 and including a beautiful black one I found in a shed in Santa Barbara in the early seventies. After I figured out how to stop the pushrod tubes from leaking, Corvairs were great fun cars, reliable and cheap to buy and easy to repair. For example, didn’t take much to “hole” the stock pistons, but you could change them out on the car fairly easily. This Fitch conversion listed on eBay is an interesting find. One could make a Corvair look more like a Nova by adding a plastic “ventop”. The engine received custom air cleaners, a different crankcase vent and the timing was advanced 3 degrees. This brought the horsepower up to about 155 from 140HP. Fitch upgraded the suspension with quicker steering arms and Gabriel performance shocks in the rear as well as changing the alignment specs. A Corvette steering damper was also available. This Corsa has the custom air cleaner and headlights, so it seems to have the Fitch upgrades and not just the Fitch top. At least this one still has the original Corsa silver painted rear panel and gauge package. They don’t say what it will take to get this Corsa back on the road. Perhaps someone will fix the rust and repaint it white? This could be a really fun car with just a bit of work. It will be interesting to see how high the bidding goes and if it reaches the seller’s reserve.

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  1. Wolfgang Gullich

    Anything touched by the hand of John Fitch is worth saving

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  2. RayT

    I’d like to agree with Mr Gullich, but the structure of this car appears to be in terrible shape. Perhaps the most sensible choice would be to take another Corsa with an unrotted shell and transfer all the Fitch bits onto it. It wouldn’t be 100% “authentic,” but I’m not sure this one is either.

    Can’t remember if Fitch sold individual Sprint parts or just complete cars, but this one doesn’t seem quite right to me. I would imagine the hardcore Corvair people could look at the VIN and tell you the whole story.

    Not attracting too much attention bid-wise, at least as yet, but considering how many mega-dollars it will consume in chassis repairs, reupholstering and mechanical work, it’s already overpriced, I say.

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    • jaygryph

      Wrong carbs for a 140, looks like the secondary carb holes are blanked off.

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  3. Vince Habel

    It still has the 65 tail lights. Needs a lot to make it right.

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  4. Bobsmyuncle

    Very few cars left Fitch’s shop as ‘complete’ Fitch Sprints as they did Yenko.

    For the most part people brought Fitch their car and checked the boxes on the long list of performance and aesthetic upgrades, and picked it up a week later. Some cars were bought and shipped directly to Fitch from the dealership.

    You could also order any parts from Fitch and throw them onto your car yourself.

    I am quite confident carb swaps were not available and these air cleaners aren’t the ones Fitch used.

    As far as I know there is no record of numbers nor VINs associated with Sprints. And of course no way to know if the parts on a car were simply mail ordered or not.

    I have a detailed list of the parts and work available from Fitch if anyone is truly interested.

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    • jaygryph

      I’m curious about that list. Sounds interesting.

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      • Bobsmyuncle

        I’ll get to it tomorrow!

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      • Bobsmyuncle

        Okay I dug up my info. This is specific to the early models, and may have changed through the model run.

        Four carb kit (from 2) – good for 145 HP on early 155HP late

        Stage 1 (air filter, jets and exhaust) good for 120HP

        Sprint mufflers


        Rear springs/shocks

        Quick ratio steering box

        Steering damner

        Adjustable shocks

        Front springs

        Headlight flasher (stalk mounted to warn of passing)

        Short shift

        Tilt driver seat mechanism

        Drivers seat adjuster (allowing more legroom)


        Pencil beam headLIGHT replaces left hand high beam

        Heel/toe bracket

        Wood rimmed steering wheel (note the style wasn’t consistent)

        Carpet for rear seat back (when used as luggage holder)

        Full width stone guard

        Sprint emblems

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      • Bobsmyuncle

        I missed;

        Passenger grab handle

        Map light

        Luggage restraint for rear seat fold down

        Also I believe the stone catcher was only for the early models.

        Hands wheels were and early model option as well.

        Finally the early model could have a vinyl trim treatment that effectively changed the shape of the rear window and as seen here the late model could have the C pillar ‘sail panel’.

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      • George

        What’s a steering damner go for these days? :-)

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  5. Bobsmyuncle

    BTW while I’m sure Fitch’s shop woukd do whatever you wanted engine swaps were not common (if they happened at all)and I’ve never heard of carb swaps.

    My guess is that most of the work here was done by an enthusiast.

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  6. DolphinMember

    RayT is right, there are pretty clear signs of deep rust that would make this a bad choice if what you wanted was to do a complete restoration to get a strong, unrusty car at the end. I think the purchase + resto costs would make this very expensive in the end. I hope anyone who buys it knows what they are in for.

    Maybe the best way to approach this car is to just drive it sparingly, if what you want is this kind of Corvair for less than big money. That assumes that the car is sound enough to just drive, and that the reserve is reasonable. My guess is that you’re not going to get dealt 2 aces on that hand.

    Like 0
  7. Another Bob

    Is it worth Saving??? No, just crush it, ….

    Looks like it needs a battery to get going. All the parts are available at 1/1000 th the price of a 911 lug nut from Clarke’s Corvair parts, which is the most impressive single model car business I can think of.

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  8. boxdin

    If its real its more rare then hens teeth.

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  9. paul

    Unfortunately this one is too far gone, so it’s a parts car at best. I do see some Fitch bits on here, the add on top a recreation, can be bought at Clarks new. No way to tell if the engine is a Fitch modification.

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  10. Bobsmyuncle

    I hope this is okay here are a couple great examples that were for sale;


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  11. gunningbar

    I shook Fitch s hand .. so its worth saving.. a very talented fellow.. I didnt know he did these. Looks like a fun ride.

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  12. Texas Tea

    There is rust hiding behind the rust. No way.

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  13. bonneville 64

    The 140hp engine had provisions in the heads for 4 carbs. It appears from close examination of the right side of the engine that one of the carb mounts are blocked off. From talking with a number of owners of the 140 4 carb version in the Green Country Corvair Group, many have blocked off the carb ports closest to the rearmost frame rail due to the aggravation of synchronizing the 4 carbs. this would be a real toss up as to if it is an original Fitch sprint, as no records were kept as to what cars were converted. Also the fact that you could get the Fitch parts by mail order would also skew the authentication of it.

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  14. charlieMember

    My mother had a ’60, plain, gas heater under hood, fumes galore from it, but handled, for l960, better than anything I had ever driven, including my ’54 Corvette. Uncle bought a Porsche in ’63, let me drive it a lot, squirrelly, to say the least, you had to be completely alert at all times. Then in ’66 I drove a Fitch with all the mechanical and some trim modifications, and it was the best of both worlds, fast, agile, and rock steady. So, if the body is rotten, but the mechanical and suspension modifications are there, a transplant to a good shell would make a great driver, no, not a museum piece, but a great driver.,

    Like 1

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