Solid Project: 1965 Chevrolet Corvair

b2

As much as I like Corvairs, especially the second generation body style, I thought I would own one by now but I never have. This one is awfully tempting, as it’s fifty-nine minutes from my house and looks like a great project to start with. It’s located in Nashville, North Carolina, and is listed for sale here on eBay where bidding is well under $1,000 at this point.

b3

There’s very little rust on this car, but you can see the one hole in the driver’s side front fender at the very front. The seller shows a closeup in the auction so you’ll know exactly what you are getting into. I’m guessing that dirt and debris accumulated in the front edge of the fender and it rusted out from the inside. The seller thinks the paint may be original; if it is I wonder why the hood would have lost so much more paint than the fenders. Nonetheless, the chrome looks straight, the trim is intact and the shut lines look pretty good apart from the trunk lid, and I’m guessing it’s just the dried out and broken weatherstripping.

b1

Even the vulnerable rear grills seem intact. The rear of these cars makes me think of the front of a late 60’s Ford sedan due to the shape of the outlined trim. I know, that’s a weird similarity to draw, but I can’t help it, that’s what I see. Since this one runs and shifts but has no brakes apart from the parking brake, I guess ol’ Ralph would say this was even unsafe at no speed!

b4

The interior is a little barren, with a serviceable driver’s seat but the other seats are just bare springs and there obviously needs to be some more parts purchased. The dash does look really nice, though, surprisingly I don’t see any cracks. The ad states that the previous owner removed the interior and, of all things, the fuel tank, so you’ll need to source one of those as well. I’m guessing before this one’s done, you’ll have Clark’s Corvair Parts on speed dial.

b5

The engine looks remarkably nice and the seller tells us it runs well. No functional brakes means I’d start there, but it sounds like it wouldn’t take much to have this car running and driving, and with it so close to me it’s really tempting to follow the bidding. However, I spent some time today with the conglomeration of projects I have already and some of those would have to go first, so one of the rest of you will have to take over pursing this one for me. Who’s it going to be?

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Comments

  1. piper62j

    Good find.. These cars are popular and worth the investment.. I have found in the past that the surface rust as shown on this car can indicate very thin sheet metal.. However, it can all be restored…

    Good find.. Nice car.. Great project.

  2. Bobsmyuncle

    Hmm it does look straight, but as cheap as it is there are far better deals out there. Corvairs are very affordable.

    Literally the first one I found;

    http://portland.craigslist.org/yam/cto/5476830299.html

    • Bobsmyuncle

      Here’s an example of a really clean one and the ask isn’t even what I consider a great deal.

      http://tucson.craigslist.org/cto/5475629721.html

      There’s no way 6 grand would turn the featured car into this quality.

      All that said it would be a great start for a Yenko clone or just an event car in general, no point in paying for stuff you’d only tear out and off.

      • Alan (Michigan )

        I have always thought that the Camaro wheels (like are on the one you posted) look great on the 2nd generation Corvair.

      • Bobsmyuncle

        I agree!

  3. fred

    Drove a ’65 4 door with factory air to school in the 70’s. Was a lot more dependable than my ’62 Monza and handled a lot better in the curves.

  4. Ed P

    The 2nd Gen Corvairs were a much better looking car than the 1st Gen. The curved lines gave the car a sporty look. Once the General put a limiter on the swing axels, these were good handling cars. However, once Ralphie put out the word that these cars were unsafe, it was all over. This looks like a good, restorable example of the Corvair.

    • Mike H. Mike H

      Limiter on the swing axle? Are you referring to the “camber compensator”, which was essentially a transverse single leaf spring which crossed from one axle tube to the other? Because in 1965 these got a completely independent rear suspension with half-shafts and CV joints; the VW Beetle got the same for 1966. This the was the major handling improvement that the second generation Corvairs received, but like all rear engined cars tire pressure would play a large role in the handling characteristics.

      • Bobsmyuncle

        Indeed, 64 was the first year for the camber compensator.

        The tire pressure was a significant issue, but the truth is swing axle designs were VERY common in Europe they were only unique here.

        There was no REAL handling problem ever. It was a perceived problem.

      • Mike H. Mike H

        I agree that there was never anything actually wrong with the Corvair from an engineering standpoint. Yes, the IRS design was superior to the swing axle, but the first generation cars were well thought out and well built, and they were good sellers for their time. The Corvair is the best example of how GM once thought “outside the box”, and while they tried beating fire with fire by offering a better VW Beetle, the car demonstrated that The General was willing and able to consider something very different from what they had done before, and the execution was well done, all things considered.

        That Ralph Nader was a questionable attorney and a lousy consumer advocate is a topic for long discussion. He had a hard-on for The General and went after them with a vengeance with his book, and The General was dumb and sloppy about digging for dirt to blackmail him with. Regardless, the major casualty was the American auto industry; they learned that that doing something different or better was a bad idea and they’d avoid doing it ever again.

      • Bobsmyuncle

        Actually Mike the Beetle wasn’t the target but I can’t remember what it was. I know one of the design criteria was that it was a six seater, which was a big reason for the rear engine. I’ll check my notes and report back.

        Edit Valiant and falcon

      • Ed P

        Mike, the early Corvairs had nothing to limit axel swing. That is why the early cars became notorious for turning over. The GM engineers realized something was needed but the bean counters thought otherwise.

    • Bobsmyuncle

      I like both very much.

      The early design is distinctively European very classy, which you either appreciate or not.

      This design was very ahead of its time and has aged exceptionally well.

  5. Vince Habel

    I would add the 67-69 master cylinder for added safety.

  6. BCG 1

    My first two cars were Corvairs. A 65 Monza and then a 66 Corsa with a 110 rather than the 140.

  7. bob

    This is a Corsa 4 speed. This is the one to get. Great cars. Check the windshield for serious rust issues. Mine is rust free more or less except for the rotted windshield. Interesting to see where this goes. For someone interested in what parts are available to support the Corvair check out Clarke’s Corvair parts. Quite an interesting business they have built there.

  8. charlie Member

    12 lb of air in the front tires, something like 32 in the rear, nobody thought that could be right, and inflated all the same, and when you left off the rear suspension bar that kept the rear wheels from tucking under which GM did until the ’64’s, it would, in a cross wind, do a 360 on a clear dry straight road. So would a Renault Dauphine (rear engine). So Ralph was right, value engineering, plus dumb consumer, equaled unsafe at any speed. My mother had a ’60 which got driven easy by her, and hard by me, the biggest danger was the fumes from the gas fired heater under the hood, went over 100,000 miles till the tin worm got it – New England salt. Acquaintance had the Fitch modified ’65 or ’66 with lots of horsepower and beefed up suspension, and it was a Porsche equivalent, but without the squirrely handling of the Porsche.

  9. Bobsmyuncle

    “… it would, in a cross wind, do a 360 on a clear dry straight road.”

    Siiiigh… If that was the case I think enthusiasts would STILL be having that problem. I frequent the two big forums and am a CORSA member. That is simply NOT the case. In fact its utter horse crap.

    If you look into the stories including Nader’s OWN ADMISSION this was not a credible concern.

    For the record the issue was brought to Nader’s attention not because of reported accidents but from (the true) report from one of the engineers reporting the initial design planning. The Corvair was dangerously expensive, and the bean counters DID make the decision not to include the transverse leaf for that reason. On the surface it seems negligent but for the decades of use in Europe.

    • charlie Member

      I saw it happen, right in front of me, on a dry, concrete road, we were both doing about 45 in a 40 MPH zone, big crosswind, we ended up about a foot apart, front bumper to front bumper, in my breakdown lane. And I saw a Dauphine do it as well, but I was behind him, and now body hit him either. If the front tires were overinflated, it happened. As noted, my mother and I drove a 1960 for over 100,000 miles and never had that problem.

  10. John

    I had a 66, 110 4 speed. I auto crossed the car. I put Goodyear Bule streak racing tires on it with reversed rims. I ran the hell out of it. I drove it 118,000 miles. I traded it for a 69 Z28. I missed it immediately. I put enlarged jets in the OEM carbs, I put headers and shortened steering arms on it. I met my wife when I was driving it. It was a wonderful car. After 45 years, I still miss it.

    These are wonderful cars.

  11. Mike P

    I know exactly where this car is at, I’m the owner’s UPS man, been delivering Corvair parts to him for years.

  12. Bobsmyuncle

    That’s cool, small world!

  13. Rex Rice

    I bought a 65 Turbo Corsa new in early ’66. 180 hp from 164 ci; pretty impressive. However, it was the worst POC I’ve ever owned. The day after I bought it, the transaxle failed. No lube from the factory. No parts were unavailable thanks to a GM strike. The hood was mis-aligned, the gas filler pipe was faulty, the trans was installed with bolts missing causing the thing to change lanes at will. Throughout all of this, the dealers didn’t respond. Worse, I traded in a pristine 356 Porsche and faced 2 years of payments. Luckily, I parked it until it was sold. Big relief & I’m still pissed after all these years.

  14. Alan (Michigan )

    My preference has always been in favor of the ’66 for several reasons. This car appears to be a good starting point though. Has me wondering what the reserve is.

  15. Vince Habel

    66 has a better transmission.

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