I’m trying to decide if I should overhaul/rebuild my Corvair. It runs with some encouragement and needs a bit of interior work but that’s about it. I’m not much of a mechanic but I do have the time and money to invest in the car at the moment. Is it worth it or do I take the ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ attitude and just get it running good?
If it’s really in that good a shape I’d do a complete assessment, including compression testing and a thorough evaluation of the suspension and braking systems, and make a decision based on that. If it’s truely in good shape it’s a colllectable, and one that I myself would restore. My dad had a '61 that I learned to drive on and a '65 that I drove a lot in high school.
I guess my fear is that I mess it up worse than it is and it is in good shape. It drives and needs minimal work for the most part.
So do a little at a time . . . have an shop re-do your interior . . . then look at wheels & tires . . . maybe a few engine or suspension modifications . . . take it to a few GM shows (or Corvair shows if you can find 'em) and enjoy this as a hobby car. You’re a lucky guy to have a collector car . . . time n his hands . . . and enough money to enjoy a hobby. Have fun! Rocketman
Do the “minimal work” needed and enjoy it. It sounds like while you enjoy and appreciate the car restoring it isn’t really your “thing”. And that’s okay, it’s okay to just enjoy it.
Your biggest challenge with this car may be finding a good mechanic to work on it. A mechanic who usually works on modern cars won’t be able to make heads or tails of a Corvair, and even a lot of old timers may not quite know what to do with one. I’d call around to or visit independant mechanics and see if you can find someone who’s enthusiastic about the prospect of working on a Corvair. An independant VW shop might be your best bet, since they’ll have the air-cooled experiance and in my experiance are often the kind of characters who would be enthusiastic about a Corvair, although they may not have any SAE wrenches.
I always thought that the Corvair was a fun car to drive. I owned a 1961 that I purchased used. Ralph Nader helped me buy the car. After he wrote his book, “Unsafe At Any Speed”, the price of used Corvairs went down drastically. I was ready to go to graduate school for the second time around and needed a car. I could buy a newer Corvair than any other car with the money that I had.
I would agree to get it running well first, then consider how much you want to spend on interior work, etc. Corvairs don’t seem to bring high prices as antique cars at this point. However, there are still parts available if you search far enough. You may need to search for a white haired mechanic who has seen one before. Even when my Corvair was less than 10 years old, there seemed to be only one mechanic in my college town that repaired Corvairs. When I was having some problems, the service station owners advised me that I needed to see “Freddie”. Freddie, as it turned out, was a mechanic at the Chevrolet agency who loved Corvairs. He kept mine running like at top, and the cost was reasonable. This was 39 years ago, so I am certain that Freddie has retired and Chevrolet dealers don’t employ Corvair mechanics any more.
One thing I did was purchase a transverse spring that connected the swing axles. I think I paid less than $15 for this and it installed in 15 minutes. This really made the Corvair handle really well. This feature wsa included on the 1964 Corvair. The 1965 and later Corvairs had a very good independent rear suspension and handled even better. One thing to watch is that the engine is well-sealed. I do remember accounts of Corvair owners being poisoned by carbon monoxide coming through the heater. The heaters in the 1961 and later Corvairs used heat coming from the manifold. The 1960 Corvairs had a gasoline heater.
hi I do not know were you live but there is alot of car clubs and you can help from many people. a bought a new 1962 corvair. the turbo spider was a great runner.
How much it’s worth depends on what model Corvair it is. Give us all the info you can.
Mechanical repairs are always the least expensive, followed by body then interior. Keep it mechanically sound and then decide about the body and interior. Sometimes an original car with some wear is more valuable to a collector than a restored car. I don’t know whether your car falls into this category or not. Check eBay to see if there are any similar cars to get an idea of value. I had a 1965 convertible and it was fun.
Check it out first. If it is one of the later models, it is a lot safer than the original one so you can keep it. Look at the steering column. If it is a straight solid one with no connectors with sliding shaft and if it runs straight to the front of the car, junk it. That steering column is on the early models and it was a killer in a front end collision. I think the safer Corvair started with the Corsa model but my info is kind of weak.
There is really no sense in fixing something that does not need it. You will end up taking life out of it for nothing. it might just need a good tune up.
Yeah I had a 61 too. Paid $100 for it. On snow days we’d take it out and try to get it stuck but never would. Fun car to drive but just around town-not safe on the highway.
This is a complicated air cooled engine with dual carbs. You don’t want to do the work yourself if that’s what you meant. They are more like airplane engines and not just any mechanic can work on them.
We have a 1968 Corvair Monza, 4 speed, 110 hp that my wife inherited from her father.
A Corvair is really just another Chevy. If you can work on other 1960s GM products, you shouldn’t have difficulty with your Corvair. If a local auto parts store like NAPA doesn’t have what you need, there are some mail order sources. The one we like is Clark’s Corvair Parts (www.corvair.com) in Massachusetts.
If the body on yours is in good shape (i.e. not rusty), it is a collectible car. If you do modify it, limit yourself to bolt-on modifications that can be readily reversed and keep all the old parts. That way, you don’t ruin its value as a stock vehicle.
There is an active national Corvair club (www.Corsa.org) with many local chapters. The members tend to be hands-on and very knowledgeable about their cars. If you are afraid of getting in over your head, they can recommend a mechanic within a tolerable driving distance. Instead of dying out, Corvairs have become popular enough to support some highly skilled Corvair specialists. However, they are far enough apart that you might have to drive several hundred miles to reach the nearest one. They are also busy enough to have a waiting lists.
Be careful not to dump a lot of money into your Corvair without checking to see what you can buy for the same total cost. Unless you can do the work yourself, most restored cars are worth less than the cost of restoration.
KEEP IT,nice piece, and anyone who works on lawnmowers and motorcycles ,can work on the corvair also. (AIR COOLED is not building the world trade centers) so i say keep it and have fun.