Turbo Coupe! 1965 Chevrolet Corvair Corsa

Often, when someone utters the words “turbo coupe,” it conjures up images of the classic Ford Thunderbird with the SVO powerplant. This time, however, we’re talking about a Chevy Corvair Corsa coupe, fitted with the optional turbocharged flat-six that produced a very respectable 180 b.h.p. This example is fresh from an estate sale and looks like a great foundation for a project. Find it here on eBay with bids just over $3K and no reserve.

It’s interesting: performance from the six-cylinder turbo Corvair wasn’t a threat to muscle car owners, but it would hand most other six cylinders their ass. Unlike today, none of the manufacturers were really trying to dominate the “six-cylinder performance” market, whereas nowadays Chevrolet and Ford are absolutely judged on the performance of their non-eight cylinder models. This Corvair’s bodwork is said to be sound but in need of a repaint.

The seller notes the Corvair came out of a collection of similar cars owned by the same individual, and that he’ll be listing more Corvairs in the future. Despite its long slumber, floors are supposedly good and the interior could be used as-is, aside from needing a good cleaning. It does look reasonably tidy in pictures, which is a surprise considering it was off the road fro 40 years.

The engine supposedly fired right up with a fresh battery and the factory gas tank bypassed. The seller claims he hasn’t touched the old gas nor the brakes for fear of locking them up; he’s been stopping it with the emergency brake up to this point. With a healthy drivetrain and the rarity factor throw in, this turbocharged Corvair looks like an enjoyable project that could even appreciate slightly in the next few years.


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  1. Andy

    The prettiest American car since 1945, and with guts? I wish I had the price and a garage.

    Like 8
  2. Cadmanls Member

    Jeff your close but I had a 66 that did slap a few early 5.0 mustangs. To be honest was a Monza I put a turbo motor in and other parts from a 65 Corsa. Glass pack muffler and better air cleaner to increase the boost. Little sleeper, had quick steering arms, as shiffter and 14″ Chevy rally wheels. Performance was good and a hoot to drive. The real problem was leaking pushrod tubes and people not keeping oil cooler clean. Had a few Corvairs but the 66 was the most fun. Oh by the was 66 up 4 speeds had the better Muncie gearbox.

    Like 6
    • JOHN Member

      The 66 up trans was a Saginaw, not a Muncie. No Corvairs ever had a Muncie transmission. The 66 was a stronger box, but the 64-65 transmissions were better shifting than the 66. I had a 66 turbo car with a 2.5″ SU type side-draft carb, 140 heads, home made water injection, a VERY early Multiple Spark Discharge unit (first one MSD shipped to VA they told me) with both compressor and turbine mods to the turbo. It was a hoot to drive and surprised quite a few cars back then.

      Like 8
  3. ACZ

    First mod would be a side draft Weber after making sure it’s mechanically sound.

    Like 2
  4. On and On On and On Member

    Well it sure is a Corvair weekend and I’m in hog heaven. Check out the price of admission, thank you Ralphie, and a turbo to boot. As far as drivability, the 110 and 140hp engines are said to be the best, turbos having lag issues, unfortunately the last time I drove a turbo Corvair was 1969. I do remember it though, and remember lag except at highway speeds. Still a fun car that handles well. The first thing to do on this car if you want to drive it at all is to get rid of the glass (or plastic) fuel filter in the engine compartment. If you throw a belt, not uncommon, they’ll see the flames for miles……..There is a reason that fuel filters, when added, (carbureted models have them in the carbs) are placed before the fuel line enters the engine compartment. Easy fix. Nice car. Will only go up in value, especially a turbo model…….Hey Liniedude! here’s your chance! I’ll give you a hand with this one………….

    Like 4
    • leiniedude leiniedude Member

      Hey buddy I am interested. But like you I prefer ragtops. You are right on the belt and it looks like this one could go at any time. Not sure whats going on with that bottle of gin next to the M/C is all about. Does your have the horns mounted like this one? I like the rally wheels but never knew they came in 13 inch. I really like the C pillar look on this rig. Nice looking ride. As much as I operate in a fog, I would get rid of the fog lights but keep the luggage rack. I broke the mold today and am having a bottle of Lone Star! Say hey to Sweetie Pie! Take care, Mike.

      Like 2
      • On and On On and On Member

        The bottle of gin is actually a factory bottle of windshield solvent. And no, my horns aren’t there, I’ll check tomorrow where they are! The write-up says the wheels are chevy 14 inch, a common conversion. I don’t like the fogs either. Lone Star………..good choice! You da man Mike, The rag tops are my fav but the coupe has the lines………………Sweetie Pie says Buy this one now, learn about them then pick a rag top later…………….

        Like 2
      • leiniedude leiniedude Member

        The Ebay add says 13 inch rally wheels. The more I look at them I think they are some kind of a rally wheel. The rim itself look nothing like the ones on my Stingray. Maybe just center caps pounded onto a Corvair rim?

        Like 1
      • On and On On and On Member

        I saw that too Mike, I think they are 14″ Camaro wheels from 3rd generation Camaros, just heard that they fit. I’m going to drive to Lombard on Wednesday to look at the collection. ROAD TRIP! “Have Magnet Will Travel”

        Like 2
    • Hank Kaczmarek

      Lots of changes since 1969—VITON pushrod and Oil Cooler seals eliminate the leaks. Neoprene could never handle the heat.

      3rd Generation Camaro rims let you run 15″ tires. This one will probably need new brake Cylinders at all 4 and an upgrade (if not on there) to a dual cylinder Master setup. My 1st Corvair was a 66 (33 years ago) and it was a single Master Cyl

      Belts—Gates makes a “Wrapped” Belt for the Corvair. Mine has been on the car since 2011 and it’s not slipped yet, and only one tighten-up since.

      Better quality seals mean the heat is clean, and the weatherstripping works.

      Like 4
      • JOHN Member

        16″1988 IROC wheels will fit, 4 3/4 backspacing on front, rears on rear with 5 1/4 backspacing. I mention Front and Rear because the wheels are actually marked Front and Rear. You can run a pretty wide tire if you want. I also run 15×8 Corvette Rallys on the rear, 15×7 in front at times, and also a set of 15 x 7 Torque Thrust’s.Keep the backspacing around 4 3/4 and you won’t have any issues. It is pretty straight forward to upgrade you brakes to a 67/later dual master cylinder, and will work with a S-10 based front disc conversion, a proportioning valve isn’t required.

        Like 2
  5. Dave

    It was stored for over 40 years, so it might have a tank full of rotten, leaded gasoline!

    Like 2
  6. stillrunners stillrunners Member


  7. JOHN Member

    Hey On and On, your horns are in your headlight buckets! The bolt on the backside of the bucket is the horn mounting. You have to remove the headlight bezel, then the stamped plate the headlights mount , and there you are!

    Like 5
    • On and On On and On Member

      Thanks JOHN, I did not know. Just ordered a shop manual. I think the next thing I.m going to do is add the quick steering arms. Have you done that on yours?

      • JOHN Member

        I have a Crown V8 conversion, and it has the quick turn steering arms, and pretty wide tires. I also have a smaller diameter steering wheel, so the steering effort is increased rather significant compared to stock. I am thinking of an electric power steering upgrade in the future. FYI, a more modern wheel/tire combination would make a more noticeable increase in the way your car handles and feels, I have several sets I can interchange, but one of the nicest looking combo’s is the 88 or so IROC Camaro wheels, 16″, and a much better selection of tires than 14’s and 15’s They just seem to look at home on a Corvair!

  8. alphasud Member

    I have this exact same year model and color car. Bought it as a non runner. Slowly restoring to her former glory. Still one of the most affordable to restore. They are probably the best handing American car for the era aside from the Corvette to which the Corvair owes its suspension design to. I currently have the 4-carb 140 engine it for the time being. I have the parts to make a turbo engine may or may not do so but first to take her apart and do a repaint and restore the interior. Mine is a Los Angeles build so that makes it a rare model for the year. 66 is even more rare.

    Like 5
  9. bobhess bobhess Member

    Bought a ’65 full up Monza off the Detroit Auto Show turntable display. Great car! Speaking of fires, early ’90s I was out in the the front yard and a white ’66 cruised by with flame coming out of the back vents. Was able to get the lady driving it to stop and got a fire extinguisher on it before it really did any damage. Four carb engine that her husband had pulled the throttle linkage off two of the carbs to “get better gas mileage”. Convinced her to let me hook the linkage back up and told her to go home and ask her husband why he was trying to kill her. Did really like the telescoping wood rimmed steering wheel. Didn’t expect that on a car like the Covair.

    Like 7
  10. Duaney

    I believe that I saw this car earlier stored in a damp garage with other cars, all suffering from poor storage with humidity, I would expect this one has a terrible musty odor, let the buyer beware.

    Like 1
  11. Little_Cars

    I think the steering wheel on this car is trying to mimic the telescopic one offered from the factory, but in my recollection the factory wheels were not dished and the rivets on the rim less pronounced if not non-existent. I’ve done many GM rally wheel conversions to the 5 lug late model Corvair. There is a whole website dedicated to this simple and effective way to beautify the car and gain some grip. The worst part is making sure your lugnuts are stepped in order to get a bite on the original 65 lugs. Some company may actually make 13″ knock off Chevy rally wheels but I’m pretty sure the ones on this car are 14″.

  12. bobhess bobhess Member

    Longer lugs are available and easy to install. NAPA and Summit are good suppliers. Don’t remember what size lugs are on the Corvair but we’re using ’70s Chevy van 7/16 lugs on our race cars to get the extra length required for wheel spacers.

  13. Del

    Pretty nice for a decent price

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