Chevrolet CORVAIRS WHAT TO KNOW BEFORE PURCHASING ONE
The Chevrolet Corvair is one of the most unusual and unique vehicles ever made. Because of this you MUST BE WILLING TO LEARN AS MUCH AS YOU CAN BEFORE YOU CONSIDER A SPECIFIC MODEL. I will say this and possibly some may be offended by these remarks,: THERE ARE NO 20,000 mile Original miles cars available , Corvair, Mustang, Corvette, Pinto, Porsche, etc. , I t does not matter what the make, DO YOU REALLY BELIEVE THAT ANY CAR OVER TWENTY YEARS OLD HAS NOT BEEN DRIVEN A GOOD NUMBER OF MILES IN EACH OF ITS FIRST EIGHT TO TEN YEARS, CAVEAT EMPTOR (Buyer Beware). I don't believe that there are any vehicles the age of Corvairs or certainly older than 25years that haven't gone one rotation of the odometer, THAT IS OVER 100K MILES. Remember that prior to the 1980's , it was not uncommon for some dealers and wholesalers to dial back the numbers. In the 1960's and early 1970's it was even more likely as there wasn't any federal enforcement or major penalty for doing so. I would be highly suspicious of any vehicle claiming original miles, unless the seller is the original purchaser,(not an Agent), every service record/ receipt is there, and you personally have known the seller and the vehicle SINCE IT WAS PURCHASED NEW! With that said lets discuss CORVAIRS and what you must know about them. Much if not all the important details will be outside of this guide, I simply am trying to point you in the right direction. First thing to do is learn about the two huge parts suppliers, Clark's on the east coast in Mass. and Corvair Underground on the west coast in OREGON. Get both catalogs from BOTH suppliers immediately. Why? Well besides seeing what all is available for the Corvair, Each Catalog contains many pages of detailed technical details, insight, tips, and general knowledge that is essential. Both have the finest Corvair technical experts that are most helpful in answering questions and providing helpful answers. Please remember that these are businesses and fine ones at that, so do waste their Tech experts time by calling with frivolous questions. Both Clarks and Corvair Underground have been in business since the early 1970's and both are probably solely responsible for maybe all of the reproduction parts. THE NEXT THING YOU SHOULD DO IS obtain a copy of the Corvair Society of America (CORSA) TECH GUIDE. The complete tech guide is a huge compilation of member's technical solutions to overcoming the limitations/faults of the Corvair in its factory form. It is hundreds of pages which are well organized much like a shop manual by topic. You should consider joining CORSA or at the very least one of your regional clubs of CORSA. For any Corvair newcomer , the cost benefit in new knowledge about all Corvairs FAR OUTWEIGHS THE MEMBERSHIP DUES. You also get outstanding tech help, a monthly magazine, and events which are great fun. My advice is to attend a CORSA event, either local or national prior to purchasing or deciding on which model of Corvair to purchase. You need not be a member to attend and you do not need to own a Corvair, and there is no charge for being a spectator. My advice is attend, armed with a camcorder or at the very least a small tape recorder. Don't worry about being a Doofus carrying a camcorder or a tape recorder, only a big Doofus would carry a tape recorder right , WRONG! The point is to meet the Corvair owners , politely talk with them about their cars, ask them if they would mind if you recorded the audio/video of the conversation in order to learn more about Corvairs. Ask questions and listen to their answers without interrupting them , you will be surprised how much you can learn in one day. I t is important that you do your homework prior to attending by gaining minimal knowledge of Corvairs , BUT THIS IS NOT NECESSARY BUT IT WILL HELP YOU , SINCE YOU WILL ALREADY KNOW A LITTLE , SO THAT YOUR QUESTIONS CAN BE MORE SPECIFIC, and there is only so much time in one afternoon. You will find that Corvair enthusiasts are some of the nicest people you will meet anywhere. Basically, and these are generalizations but historically Corvair owners are typically thrifty , hands on, shade tree mechanic types who are passionate about their cars. You can read that as being "cheap" and "doing their own repairs in the driveway" , with the if it ain't broke yet don't replace it view towards parts replacement! See, Corvairs have historically been the cheapest collector car and this is still the case. Yet , doing a proper engine rebuild with all new parts will be around three thousand dollars if not higher. Clutch replacement will be close to one thousand. These examples assume that you do the labor yourself. Yet Corvairs are worth relatively little in dollar value as compared to their 1960's competition. A Corvair that is properly redone and maintained will be a fun to drive, reliable automobile. The key is to learn what is necessary in making this happen. There is far to much to this subject. The book called HOW TO KEEP YOUR CORVAIR ALIVE BY RICHARD FINCH originally published around 1975 and reprinted in many editions since then is the best. This along with the CORSA TECNICAL GUIDE, The factory Chevrolet Shop Manual, Clark's Catalogs and Corvair Underground's catalogs are required reading and reference material. Before setting off into your journey into Corvair land learn and gain as much knowledge before considering or purchasing any Corvair. Get your Corvair degree , so to speak. Do Not Get Your Education from The School of Hard Knocks. Numbskulls and Knuckleheads can disregard this and proceed at their own risk. Learn about the differences in the early (1960 thru 1964) and late (1965 thru 1969 ) model Corvairs. Each specific year model has different engine options and transaxle types with have their own Pros and Cons depending on your desire for speed or economy. Learn which engine will suit your needs, the 110hp 140hp and 180hp all require premium fuel of 93 octane. The 140hp has a slightly higher tendancy to overheat if certain provisions are made. What can be done to allow the car to run on 87 octane pump gasoline? These subjects are covered in great detail in CORSA. What engines interchange? Which engine is best for a truck? How do you deal with oil leaks? Why are certain year carbs considered superior to others. Why is the folded fin oil cooler considered the finest and what years was it used? WHY DO YOU ONLY WANT TO USE A BOLTED FLYWHEEL and not a new OEM RIVETED ONE? WHY DO MOST CORVAIR EXPERTS FAVOR USING AN ELECTRIC FUEL PUMP? I certainly do! You need to know all this prior to Corvair ownership and much more. Any year Corvair can be made into a good reliable solid DRIVER if you follow the recommendations of CORSA experts, Richard Finch, Clark's and Underground. You also must know that many of the vehicles that have become Trailer Queens and Parade Vehicles will require MUCH CAREFUL ATTENTION and SERVICE before being reliable for use as a Daily Driver. YOU MUST EXPECT TO PUT A GOOD BIT OF WORK INTO EVERY OLD CORVAIR, NO MATTER HOW NICE IT APPEARS. YOU WILL NEVER GET WHAT YOU PUT INTO IT IN TERMS OF DOLLAR RESALE VALUE. You must simply consider it a sunk cost but you will get many happy miles and much enjoyment of driving your Corvair if you proceed with a game plan and some knowledge. Corvair ownership is certainly affordable and enjoyable if the proper steps are followed, if not followed , I guess you could end up with a unreliable money pit, The Choice is Yours. GAIN KNOWLEDGE ABOUT THESE WONDERFUL CARS BEFORE DIVING OFF THE DEEP END. I hope I have given some helpful tips on how to proceed. I suggest joining CORSA. I also think that you may want to obtain a copy of the MAY 1965 issue of POPULAR MECHANICS which had a PM Owners Report, a national survey of owners of the new late model (1965) Corvair. This six page report is the most telling about the Corvair automobile. It is most telling on the frequent likes and dislikes of the brand new 1965 Corvair. It also highlights the chief complaints such as water leaks, workmanship, carburetor trouble, and gas mileage. Note that workmanship or build quality is foremost a major issue. Well this was the 1960's and what was deemed acceptable by the manufacturers, especially GM for a low priced vehicle was minimal. They figured you would trade up within two years anyway. The quality standards of the day were nothing like what the latter day imports would introduce and strive to constantly make better even on their least expensive cars. Does this mean that Corvairs are pieces of trash and should be avoided? No, it just means that , it is not a fix it and forget it type of vehicle. You will certainly want to consider following the many recommendations laid out in detail in the previously mentioned publications in order to have a reliable, safe , fun vehicle that will be much better than what was offered by Chevrolet, new from GM back in the 1960's. Failure to follow such recommendations will guarantee that your Corvair will be at best only as reliable as it was from GM back in the 1960's and more likely, that is highly probable that it will be far less reliable and much more problematic given the passage of time and the deterioration of key components and materials. Trust the knowledge and wisdom of the experts (Corsa Members) who figured out solutions to many problem areas and against the odds helped make a neat looking, fun to drive car much more reliable than anyone would have thought decades ago. Clarks and Underground are hugely responsible for reproducing and improving mechanical parts far superior to the original equipment stuff. Today there are more parts available and at a much higher quality than just twenty years ago. Buy smart , know what to buy, (Do your Homework, beforehand) and have an organized game plan on how to proceed after the purchase. Budget and spend wisely on the necessary parts, do not be stupid and refuse to replace a minor part such a seal or bearing while doing a resto and then have to do everything again when that old part fails a short time latter. Use quality materials and methods with attention to cleanliness at all times, Do Not Be In A Rush, Be Patient AND DO IT RIGHT THE FIRST TIME. Good luck ebayers and may your Corvair experience be filled with pleasure! Happy Trails. DRIVE 'EM IF YOU GOT 'EM! This was written by the crazy Corvair Nut, still rocking and rolling down the highway.