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Hagerty
Hagerty Employee

I was scared to drive my Corvair again, and Nader had nothing to do with it

I didn't even need to put my nose close to the gas filler to smell how skanky the fuel in the tank was. The Corvair had been sitting a really long time. Nearly two and a half years.
https://www.hagerty.com/media/maintenance-and-tech/i-was-scared-to-drive-my-corvair-again-but-not-fo...
55 REPLIES 55
MoparMan
Advanced Driver

I really feel sorry for those of you who have to put your "babies" away for the winter months!! I understand the reasons, but it's still a shame! 🙂
Kyle
Moderator

I enjoyed nothing more than having a rusty Austin Healey Sprite last winter that I could drive in the salt and snow without a care. So fun to keep driving a vintage car year round.
DUB6
Specialist

Yeah, but it's kinda nice to fall in love with them all over again each spring.  I'm actually looking forward to reacquainting myself with my boots, wool socks, heavy coat, gloves, balaclava, snow shovel, and - oh, heck, who am I kidding?  You're right, @MoparMan , it's a shame! 🙄

hyperv6
Racer

I remember my first drive in a 65 Corvair that had sat over 30 years.

We had a 9,000 mile 65 Corvair that was crashed and parked in 1967. We freed the engine and rebuilt the carbs and found it ran well on factory plugs and wires.

The car was missing the windshield and headlamps and buckets. The hood was secured with a rubber strap. The tires were nearly as old as I was being the factory ribbed Firestone’s which was appropriate as we were in Firestone Park in Akron Ohio.

It was 12:00 midnight and we had no muffler. What would you do. Yes we went for a drive. The faster we went the more the air went in the missing headlamps and higher the hood went. Tires cid hood air but we’re flat spotted and the open exhaust just drew attention to our automotive miss deed.

We really did not far or all that fast but we did learn the transmission did work and so did the brakes. We got back in on piece. This was far from our most exciting drives. Maybe some time later I will share the 120 mph run when the lights went out. Or the time we were towing a Road Runner and the tow truck ran out of gas. I ended up pushing the truck with the tow car to the gas station.

Yes the Teens were a brave crazy time.
Tinkerah
Engineer

I too have stories of a high speed blind run and some amusing (only because enough time has passed) wrecker tales - looking forward to yours!
gster
Intermediate Driver

I'll be putting my '65 Corvair away this weekend.
I used it for a Halloween display last week and it was nice to see the kids
out again. We had over 500 turn up!
rbranch
Pit Crew

‘65 Corvair one of the best cars I ever owned. I have owned nearly 100 cars and trucks over the years, several 57 Chevys, hot rod T buckets, fat fenders, and Vettes, but I loved my Corvair. I was in the service and bought my ‘65 in ‘66 after my wife totaled my 2nd ‘57 Chevy. Sold the Corvair in ‘70 with 125,000 miles, never a problem. Saw it 6 years later, same guy I sold it to, over 200,000 miles, no serious issues. Thanks Ralph Nader for killing a great vehicle. Wish I could find a nice one now, I might trade one of my 14 cars for it.
Kyle
Moderator

There are plenty of good Corvair to be bought! If you want one, the only thing stopping you from having one is your drive to find one.
rbranch
Pit Crew

No, it’s the other 14 cars & trucks I own. 

DAY
Detailer

I loved my 65 Corvair Corsa. It was a lot of fun. But, I currently have 8 vehicles and simply don't have anywhere else to park one. I even have my Pontiac Solstice inside my Car trailer to keep it out of the rain and sun. No more covered parking left.
TonyT
Technician

Nader didn't kill the Corvair, GM did. With no other platforms sharing the floorpan or driveline, the expense of continuing a vehicle that was intruding on the Camaro, Firebird and Nova SS "sporty car" segment wasn't justifiable. The planned OHC version of the engine (which would have aimed the car squarely at Porsche) would have put it in Corvette territory, and nothing was going to overshadow the plastic halo car. Like the Fiero GT, it was gone too soon.
Shelby2011
New Driver

A 65 Vair was my first car, purchased in 69 for $125. Needed a repaint, tires and a major dent repair but otherwise good shape. I agree with you’ll that it was the best, or close to it, car I’ve ever owned. Drove it my senior year and then pasted it on to my sister who put over 100k miles on it with nothing but valve cover and pushrod tube gaskets.
CBL
Pit Crew

Oh the rose colored glasses as described in paragraph three is so right on. My old gearhead buddies can sit around for the whole weekend talking about old shenanigans that took place "back in the day". Forgotten are bad breakdowns, waiting for parts, spending months finding a part, or nearly losing a limb taking something off or putting something on. The mirror of this is the dreaming of the overdue paint job or plans to refurbish brake system or any other major project.

I share the author's joy of ownership and driving them. . You don't need someone telling you what is wrong with her.. you already know what she needs. Love on her a little bit and give her some exercise. It really isn't much different than being married. If you aren't giving her what she needs she will be talking back at you... Drive on....
ScottM
Intermediate Driver

My cousin had a green Corvair for college days at Cornell. I remember chilly winter drives! It always started in the snowy NY finger lake region and I can still hear the distinctive exhaust note. Her dad traded the Corvair for a new Chevelle ragtop as a graduation present, still I preferred the Corvair, it was just cool. My grandpa bought a new V6 62 Buick special that he just loved, I was surprised it shared Corvair DNA.
GaryN
New Driver

Kyle, Love the look of the 17" rims, the fill the wheel wells real nice I just ordered a set of 17x7's. What size front tires did you go with to avoid clearance issues?
Kyle
Moderator

Mine are 17x8 rear and 17x7 front. You did a smart thing in keeping 17x7 all around. I run 215/45-17tires on the front 17x7 wheels and if I remember correctly those are fairly close to the stock rolling diameter so the speedometer is still close (or as close at is ever was.)

I have the car lowered a good bit and that helps with clearance. I rolled the front fender lips slightly, but that was more out of caution than necessity.
LoudV8
Intermediate Driver

Your Corvair is all the way cool and your custom exhaust is sweet. It's a world away from my sister's red 1960 with little to no heat when she gave me rides to school in Illinois winters. Your interior shot brings back memories of the flat floor that I forgot about. Keep driving as is and I hope you got better heater output than sis had in hers!

neilternet
Pit Crew

Twenty years ago I bought a 1969 Imperial that had been stored for ten years. I had it towed to my shop, pulled the spark plugs and sprayed oil in all the cylinders and cranked it over. I replaced the plugs and poured gas down the carb and it fired up and ran. The exhaust smelled awful but it ran. I put it on the high idle cam and monitored the temperature gauge for an hour until it ran out of gas. I poured in some fresh gas and it ran well enough to drive. I didn't keep it long, I just wanted to bring it back to life.
merlebalke
Advanced Driver

In 1960 two of my good friends had new Corvairs. My prime recollection is always having two have a spare fan belt on hand as they broke constantly.
JSievers
Instructor

You could paint the engine cover over the winter. The flat-black look doesn't work very well.
Kyle
Moderator

It's actually already painted, the flat black is vinyl wrap that I wanted to try out. I like the look, but recognize it is a personal thing.
cyclemikey
Detailer

Nah, it's no shame to put the nice vintage iron away for the winter. My Corvair is safely tucked in, along with the MGB and all the others. No need to plow it through all the cold and rain and slop.

That's why God made Subarus.
DUB6
Specialist

God made Subarus?  Sheesh, don't tell my niece that.  She already worships hers (and all it's predecessors) as if they are deities.  There'd be no living around her if she found out she is right!  😁

SuperDeLuxe
Advanced Driver

My first car through high school was a '62 Monza 900. Great in the snow, not so great in the cold - I should have replaced those pushrod tube o-rings, the song "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes" takes on a whole new meaning ! 😂
DonLafferty
Pit Crew

I used to have a couple of the Gen 1 Corvairs. They were not as dangerous as Nader made them out to be and the Gen 2s were fine. Even the 64 had the transverse support that kept the axles from folding under.

I have wanted a 140 HP Gen 2 for a long time. I drove one back in the early 70s and it ran really well.
Inline8OD
Technician

Ralph Nader never pointed out shortcomings of the first generation Corvair not cited by Sports Car Illustrated (the precursor of Car and Driver) and other road test monthlies, most of which were addressed in the second generation, which was killed not by Ralph Nader, but by the Camaro and Mustang. We still hear people pontificating on Nader's book, Unsafe At Any Speed, who've obviously never read it, because only one page was devoted to Corvair.
In the early '90s, Ralph Nader accepted an invitation to speak at the Corvair Club's national meet.
He was given a standing ovation.
DUB6
Specialist

So, he was a hero?

Inline8OD
Technician

Why not? Ralph Nader worked and works tirelessly on behalf of American consumers and transparency in public life. Or does your only knowledge of Nader come from regurgitated crapola in car mags written by drop outs and industry shills?
What have you done?
DUB6
Specialist

Whoa, whoa - I wasn't digging on the man, or asking you to dig on me, either.  I actually know very little about him - and you will not find any comments here where I've disparaged him or claimed he did anything wrong.  Please don't confuse me with some of the other commenters - mine was a legitimate question: was he a hero?  No need for your last sentence, friend.  I'm neither on your side nor against you, @Inline8OD .  If you wish to educate me, fine.  If you wish to challenge me, I got no time for you.

Sajeev
Community Manager

No need to get that angry with other Hagerty Community users. Let's focus that on the industry shills that get paid to take people's criticisms, @Inline8OD

61Rampy
Instructor

Ralphies book was one chapter, not one page. He was wrong about the Corvair, but not totally wrong. Sadly, Nader was knowledgeable about law, but not autos. As he became more famous, he seemed to know something on all kinds of subjects, but not a lot about anything. He did succeed, however, in starting the push for all kinds of safety items that do save lives today. Personally, i dont like the guy.
TG
Technician

All of my cars are the appropriate degree of off-perfect that I have no issues driving them.
It's nice to see another driver out there
ozrod49
Pit Crew

I believe it was 1987 when a fella drove into the auto salvage yard I worked at in his 1965 Corvair 4dr. He said he had to leave town quickly and didn't want to leave it on the street which meant the car would take a trip to the landfill and get tore to shreds. I said I would give him $25.00 thinking he would drive off but he pulled the title out and I took on a car I didn't want but couldn't see being destroyed. I drove that car for about 9 months and had a ton of fun in it. I sold it for $250.00 which I believe is a thousand percent profit. I really thought I was a "Player" on that deal. The guy that bought it did a nice resto on it and I sorely missed it then. What a fun car to drive around in. Once again, hindsight is painful
Stradakat
Intermediate Driver

Here in Wisconsin, the EAA (Experimental Aircraft Association) folks refer to Winter as the Building Season. The vintage and classic car folks refer to it as the Rebuilding Season. 😀
Kyle
Moderator

There are a couple new-to-me motorcycles that are lined up for attention this winter. It's the perfect time to reassess some projects and slow down to do larger projects that would have taken up too much of the driving season. Also, race bike rebuilds.
Skitso999
New Driver

How good is the heater in a 1965 Corvair? Do they have aftermarket gasoline heaters for the Corvair (or anything else) and what is the company that makes them?

I think he should keep driving it throughout the winter. Why not?

Chevrolet made gas heaters for the Corvair van, but what about for the regular Corvair hardtop?
Kyle
Moderator

Honestly, I've never had a Corvair with working heat. That is my fault, not the cars though. The Early model I drove through high school leaked enough from the pushrod tubes that it would have been unsafe if the blower motor did work, which was something I never got around to making work. This '65 I've got now doesn't have the lower shrouds required for the heat to work, though that is on my to-do list (though pretty far down it.)

From my understanding and discussion with other Corvair folks, the heat on Corvairs is really good. Just make sure your exhaust logs are sealed properly and there are no oil leaks to the inside of the lower engine sheetmetal. It uses air that is blown over the 250 degree cylinder heads, so it's bound to be toasty--or at least warmer than any water-cooled car!
DMcC
Detailer

In my experiance there is a kinship with gas heaters sold for VWs and Covairs - I never had a Corvair but had many miles in VWs. Somewhere I acquired a Corvair manual for the purpose of installing and operating my VW's gas heater. Said heater ran fine (but also ran me out of gas one trip) and I will guess the Corvair use would work fine.
Gary_Bechtold
Specialist

Corvair looks good. It needs the engine cover to be body colored but otherwise it looks great, wheels are perfect on that car.
Tinkerah
Engineer

Kyle: if the heads are aluminum get to that header gasket ASAP. The leaking exhaust will burn the seating surface in short order and you'll have more than a gasket problem. Same for iron heads but it's not quite as urgent.
TonyT
Technician

Leaky exhaust manifolds on a Corvair aren't that much of a problem. The EGT rarely gets above 750 degrees on the NA engines and about 900 or so on the turbo cars. Aluminum doesn't get soft until it gets to around 1100 degrees and melts at 1220.
Kyle
Moderator

The Corvair has an interesting exhaust gasket situation. There are steel tubes pressed into the aluminum heads that serve as the union point between the headers and the heads. The seal is provided by "exhaust donuts" that fit in a cone affixed to that steel exhaust tube and seal to the inner edge of the header pipe. I'll see if I can shoot a picture on one of my spare engines. No real risk of burning a seating surface in this setup.
DUB6
Specialist

   Man, I'm learning all kinds of stuff about these little cars.  Including that there are a LOT of passionate people out there when it comes to the whole Corvair story (both pro and con).  At the very least, though, it has spurred me to do several things: talk to my friend who has one and get him to show me some of the details under the bonnet that I've never paid much attention to; watch a few YouTube videos and/or other online resources to get a better handle on how Corvairs are designed and how they work; and probably add Nader's book to my reading list.

   I come to this venue for several reasons, not the least of which is entertainment.  But certainly, learning new things about topics which pique my interest is on the list.  The talent of either the article authors or member posters is often the deciding factor in the level of interest I muster up.  You, @Kyle , are pretty doggone good at using your talent to get me hooked.  Who knew I would ever get interested enough in Corvairs to actually begin making a list of resource materials to find so I could be more educated about them?  👍

Kyle
Moderator

Corvairs are just really fun, and I'm glad I can do my part in piquing your interest in them. There is a lot of information and great resources out there. Have fun reading up!
MEC1951
New Driver

Some time this Summer there was an article about American cars from the 1970s detuned because of the oil embargo. Would they still be valued.There was a clever word to describe them but I can't remember the word.
Does anyone remember the word?
Kyle
Moderator

I think the word you might be looking for is malaise.
Sajeev
Community Manager

And I know you are right: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malaise_era

Zephyr
Instructor

I don't see how any engine work on a Corvair could be a quick fix, given that to work on the engine requires removing and then replacing all of the cooling shrouds, which the last time I checked is an 8 hour job according to the Motors manual.
Kyle
Moderator

There is not many tasks short of full rebuilding that requires removing the all the cooling shrouds. Even removal of the engine and transmission as a unit does not require taking the shrouds off. I will say the only pain is removing the "turkey roaster" to clean the cylinder head cooling fins. That is a job any new owner should undertake right away, but once done it doesn't really need to be done again for a long time--short of anything being dropped or pulled into the fan.