Chevrolet Corvair Failure to Stay On by Itself

I noticed that there is no option for the car I drive and was hoping to get some insight from whoever can help. I’ve owned a 1967 Chevrolet Corvair 110 for about a year now and it has always ran good (i made sure to turn it on everyday and use it for about 30 minutes/day) but recently there is a issue even my mechanic cannot seem to figure out. I got the engine rebuilt about 7 months ago(dual carb, fan cooled 110) got a new battery and it worked great riding both smoothly and responsive. While driving it on a local road it began to power down and even if i gave it gas the engine would rev but there was no forward movement, finally it turned off not wildly but rather instantaneously like a power outage(only the momentum kept me going but the engine was not operating). When I pulled over I turned it off and made sure everything was hooked up correctly. After a couple minutes and a handful of failed attempts to turn it on, it finally turned on (initially I could not let go of the gas or else it would shut off and while it was on it ran a little “raspy”). After like 5-10 minutes (having to hold down the gas pedal slightly) it was finally running by itseld and I proceeded to drive it around the block (both forward and reverse) to see if i could identify anything out of the norm but when I turned off the car to get towed it ceased to turn on anymore. After I flatbeded it home my mechanic informed me of a bad carb and we replaced both with operable carbs (which i thought explained the sudden lack of power/shut down and its inability to stay on). The car turned on again after the installation for about 2 minutes before it gave out and failed to turn on anymore(it would kinda turn on but these were only periods lasting no more than 5-10 seconds unless we held down the gas).

THE QUESTION:If the next possible issue with the car are the points/ignition coil (where some mechanics usually sand down build up in the little area that sends the spark) get addressed and the car continues to do what it is currently doing(stated in the paragraph above) are there any other possible culprits? Engine Cables? Electrical Cables? Fuel? Anything?

Any suggestions/ help would be greatly appreciated as this is the car I use for work (since I live close) and cannot afford a new car. Keep in mind that im not driving this car around to look cool or anything as I cannot just cough up the money to fully restore it. I was stuck with this car by circumstance and have grown to love it but am doing my dest to keep it driveable and realistically speaking as long as I can get from point a to point b I am fine. You can contact me via email at i you have any information that might be useful.

thanks, Adrian O

Ignition problems were my first thought. I’d definitely check the points. If they continue to burn out, then check the ballast resistor. The points should get 12V when the car is cranking, but drop to 6V through the ballast resistor once running. Sending 12V through the points all the time will keep burning them out.

Thanks for the advice, I will update this and hopefully you’re right. Once again thanks.

You’ll need to investigate ignition issues; points, condenser, ballast resistor etc. To set the points correctly you should use a dwell meter. Most current mechanics are so used to electronic and computerized ignitions they don’t even have a dwell meter anymore, or have never used it if they have it. You can still buy a multi-meter with a dwell setting and follow the directions for a 6 cylinder motor. I wouldn’t file down points, just get new ones.

A set of points totally burned out would fit your symptoms. Also a cracked distributor cap will send the spark to the wrong plug, so replace the cap and rotor too.

Next, you are dealing with a dual carb set up and hardly any mechanics deal with carbs anymore. Add ethanol gas to the picture and things get very dicey for any old car with a carb. Ethanol could be eating away at your fuel lines. Chunks of rubber can be flaking off internally in the rubber fuel lines and bits of rubber getting to the carb will mess up the carb.

You should have all your rubber fuel lines replaced, not just in the motor, but the whole car from the gas tank to the motor. Get the carbs torn down and cleaned and rebuilt and reset. Use a fuel treatment for ethanol gas all the time, every time you fill up. Buy a “Marine” fuel treatment because there are a lot of old boats out there dealing with this problem that should use an ethanol fuel treatment.

I think the chances are high you are experiencing issues due to ethanol (alcohol) in the gas of an old car that was not designed to handle even a tiny bit of alcohol in the fuel. In these cases the alcohol in modern gas is very destructive. The OP needs to get in contact with a Corvair Club for better advice on keeping an old Corvair going.

Wow guys, this is all making alot of sense, ill pick up some materials today and start acting on these points of advice right away. Luckily my mechanic comes from that dying breed of mechanics that can deal with pre-fuel injection automobiles.

Porous fuel lines? Weak fuel pump? Worn or bent fuel pump push rod?

As Uncle Turbo suggested, a Corvair forum might have some good answers and suggestions. That car has so many unique features that can complicate diagnosis of driveability problems. A total failure to start would be much simpler to deal with.

Due to the high temperatures under the hood, I’m told Corvairs used an ignition coil that was designed to take the heat. You can install a regular coil, but don’t expect it to work well for long. It’s been over a year since I’ve had one, but it’s coil was what kept it from running when I got it (for a song) after 22 years of storage. Well, that and REALLY bad gas.

I’d start with those points, make sure they were secured after being adjusted. A dwell meter is not necessary to properly adjust the points. It can be done with a feeler gauge, personally, back in the day, I always set them with a feeler gauge and then checked with a dwell meter. I hardly ever had to readjust them.

You say your mechanic is pre-FI, but is he pre-electronic ignition? FI became dominant around 1988 where EI began to dominate after 1975. Pre-EI mechanics are the true dying breed.