Big-Block Beast: 1965 Chevrolet Corvair

Big Block Corvair

Now, I’m not suggesting that you should buy this monstrosity. Heck, you shouldn’t even look at what has been done here. It is bad and wrong, but it does make me giggle… It’s probably better if Ralph Nader doesn’t hear about this because someone took his least favorite cars and shoved a 472 V8 in it! The¬†front-wheel-drive engine and transmission setup were donated by a 1968 Caddy and they appear to have fit in there nicely. Well, except for that small fact that the engine is sitting where the back seat used to be! Supposedly the car was driven daily for many years before being parked in the 90s. It has understandable developed an overheating problem now. Still, this beast does include a bunch of spares and the price doesn’t seem too high considering all the potential thrills waiting for the next owner. So, if you are very brave, you can find it here on craigslist in Boise, Idaho for $3,800!

Engine rear

Here’s a couple of photos of that installation job for you to admire. I have seen a lot of engine swaps over the years, but this could be my favorite. It probably isn’t the most thought out modification, but the whole concept is a fun one! I never understood why Cadillac switched to a front wheel drive layout on their Eldorado, but now I know the answer. They did it so someone could build this someday! That engine had 375 horsepower, so it made no sense to channel it all through the front wheels. Stick it on the back wheels though and it makes perfect sense.

Engine front

The seller mentions that this could be the ultimate sleeper. I’m not so sure about that, but it could be one of the most interesting Corvairs out there. They claim that the paint is rare color, but it’s doubtful that that adds any value here since the car is far from original anyway. You will want to get the cooling issues resolved right away, but it should be a fun car to tool around in and will definitely gain you some major respect at any local car show. Just be sure to fill up the tank and to bring a spare can though because this beast is going to have a serious thirst!

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Comments

  1. Brad

    This was also done to a few VW’s

  2. Ed P

    Wow, that is a lot of motor for this little car. This reminds me of the early Barracudas with Hemi engines that intruded into the passenger compartment moving the driver to the rear.

  3. MikeW

    Chevy’s answer to the Pantera….I seem to remember a Porsche with a 455 Olds Toronado unit in it. Now i’d be interested if it had a Ford engine in it.

  4. Bobsmyuncle

    Nothing really new here, plenty of Crown conversions, out there. But wow that’s a LOT of motor!

    I think there is a lot of value in the asking price. Shame about the rear quarter that doesn’t look like a simple fix given the body crease.

    If this was local I’d be looking very seriously at this.

  5. Charles

    Awesome! The builder was either brave or nuts, however I love the concept.

  6. DT

    I like this,and its set up for a C.B.,Im in!!

  7. Tirefriar

    I’d take a close look at how this whole thing is bolted together. I’d imagine with do much weight out the back, the front suspension has had to tweaked. Maybe even a few bags of cenpment to keep the traction. Looks cool but may be a bit of a project of taken to the proper level.

  8. Alan (Michigan)

    This is a Caddy version of a much more common and popular swap: Toronado big block into the rear of the Corvair. Typical of those cars was a scalding 1/4 mile performance, even with an untuned engine. But most suffered from handling ills, because few swappers were up to re-engineering the suspension. A good looking one was in Hemmings some years ago: http://www.hemmings.com/users/49609/ride/5505.html

    Two things always scared me about these conversions: 1. Brakes, or lack therof. Extra weight, and crazy speed potential requires a major upgrade to stopping power. 2. Engine restraint/secure location. Rough to think that if something like this came to a sudden (impact) stop, that the driver might be thumped from behind.

    The seller is correct about the rarity of an “Evening Orchid” car. It was a one-year only offering in ’65. I think that part of the reason this car looks awkward is the wheel/tire size. Those look like 14’s or even 15’s. All Corvairs were delivered on 13’s. If you are going run bigger rims, lower aspect ratio tires are needed.

    This car does indeed need a lot of work to be pretty/reliable, but if the engineering is sound, could be a ton of fun!

    • N-JAX-humble

      The Torvair is great! Thanks for posting. Both cars remind me of a car that a relative of mine built. He built the Corvair as a dragster. The big-block engine (may have been a hemi), basically sat in the back seat, the headers stuck out of the back windows. I wish I had pictures to share, I don’t believe I can do it justice. It looked like something out of a Hot Wheels designer’s mind. It was curiously amazing!
      I’m with you though, at some point I would be very interested in how to stop the thing…

      • 1977ChevyTruck

        Would you believe something similar actually did come out of a Hot Wheels designers mind? It was/is called Vairy 8.

        http://hotwheels.wikia.com/wiki/Vairy_8

      • Alan (Michigan)

        The Vairy 8! I have one somewhere…..

  9. Will

    So the car “recently” started having a “serious” overheating problem. They went to the trouble of having the radiator “cleaned and pressure checked” and replaced the water pump. The seller then states that he thinks an auxiliary electric water pump should do the trick. Question : If it didn’t overheat prior to 94 when it was pulled from road duty why does it need an aux pump now? I think the most likely answer is that it needs a head gasket. That could be a hell of a lot of work considering the motors position in the car.

  10. Mark E

    Hmm…big block engine in one end of car, radiator in other end, connected by dozens of feet of radiator hose.

    Cooling problems? Yeah, I can imagine… -_-;

    • Alan (Michigan)

      Most of these have very few problems with heat, as long as air can be properly ducted through the radiator. Rather than heater hose, most of the conversions to water-cooled used solid piping to carry the coolant fore and aft most of the way.

      The FWD drivetrain swap into Corvairs was/is a reasonably common undertaking. Although I would not go so far as to call such versions plentiful, there really are a good number of them floating around. There are of course also Corvair bodies on front-engined chassis, set up as 4-wheelers, drag cars, and street rods.

      The single most spectacular conversion in my mind, was done by a Canadian gent some years ago: He did an extraordinary job engineering the install of a Jaguar V-12 into the front of a Corvair. Amazingly, he accomplished the feat while keeping the appearance “Plain Jane” stock-appearing. Search for “Jaguair”, and you will be amazed.

  11. Denis

    Hmmm, at that price, did you reeeeally think it was going to be perfect? Sure it needs work but looks like an assload of fun on the cheap..I think it’s kool…wish it was closer.

  12. fred

    “Rough to think that if something like this came to a sudden (impact) stop, that the driver might be thumped from behind.”

    That’s the nice way to put it, a more accurate way would be crushed by your own engine, but for a hot rodder, what a way to go!

  13. ron

    Man this is really tempting. I’ve been looking at Corvairs recently and this looks like hella fun.

  14. Joe

    I wonder what the front to rear weight balance is and at what speed the front end goes “light” and all steering is lost? Crude piece of work………

    • Andy

      Probably not as bad as you expect. Remember, this conversion changes it from rear-engine to mid-engine and puts most of the weight within the wheelbase. The chassis adjustments it would need would be more to compensate for the increase in weight overall, and the huge bump in power, than to help with the usual pendulum effect.

  15. Chebby

    The concept here is great, the engine install looks okay, but those badly cut fenders and front air scoops are redneck as hell, and speak volumes about the rest of car. Not surprised there are cooling problems, and I don’t buy the “we drove it for years and suddenly it needs an auxiliary water pump” story. There is some serious sorting to be done here, but could be fun for the right guy. Too bad the body is so banged up.

    And WHY would you respray an Evening Orchid car with that rattlecan piss yellow. Pontiac called this color Iris Mist and it’s the prettiest car color ever. Like a silvery lavender, subtle and stunning on the curvy 1965 Chevys and Pontiacs. Intact original paint would have made this a rare and valuable Corvair.

  16. Chuck

    Had one (not swapped) back in the early ’70s. If I had more room in my shop and fewer project cars to finish…..

    Looks like it would be a lot of fun to finish. Re-engineer the suspension, upgrade the brakes, etc.

  17. Thomas Allen

    The problem is not the car or modifications. It’s your attitude! You need to change yours to fit the Car. Think of yor first car did all brakes work or did you pump the pedal 3 or 4 times? Did you lower it by cutting/removing springs? Guess what? I’m going to buy this Corvar! (in Jan/Feb). I’ll try to remember this website for updates.

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