1966 Corvair Corsa - Turbocharged 4 Speed
It seems that for over 40 years I have been fascinated by the first car I ever owned - a 1965 Corvair Corsa. In 2002 I decided it was time to find a good one to restore. Maybe I'm trying to relive my youth, but I really think it's because this car turned me into a car nut and I never recovered from that affliction. What follows is the story of the car I bought, and my efforts at restoring it to the car I want it to be.
Here are some shortcuts - just in case you don't want to wade through the whole story!
Come for a ride in mine Mr. Nader :)
My first car .... (sigh) .... was a 65 Corvair Corsa with the 4 carb 140 HP engine and a 4 speed transmission. With an air cooled pancake or boxer style 6 cylinder motor in the rear this was a very unusual car design for a North American manufacturer, and it probably established me as a certified car nut right from the start.
I don't have any pictures of my car, but it was just like this one, only burgundy with a white interior. This car is Norm Wittes and you can see more of it at http://www.wittelaw.com/personal/vairgallery/
In December of 2002 Gary Aube sent me a link to a 66 Corvair Corsa that was for sale in Texas, this was the ad:
CLASSIC FOR SALE
1966 Chevy Corvair/Corsa
2 door turbo charged coupe, one of 1,951 manufactured in 1966. 31,596 actual miles. Four speed Saginaw manual transmission. Black exterior, black interior. Overall very good condition. Has been in storage since 1981.
Alvin, TX -- USA
Unfortunately - by the time I saw the ad the car had been sold to a new owner in Tucson AZ. I was successful in tracking him down and as luck would have it, he would consider selling it. He had bought it thinking it would be a good low mileage car for his son to take to college. However, because it had not run for 22 years, he was having some problems with the motor and decided he would like something more reliable ........ and less "unique".
Before Fred bought the car it was last licensed for the road in 1981. Since then it had been part of a collection of 37 cars owned by a Mr. Gerald Smith in Marshall Texas. While working on the car I have found information that leads me to believe the original owner of the car lived in Timpson Texas, about 60 miles from Marshall (found a 1968 High School report card from Timpson High under the front carpet when refinishing the interior). From that I hope to track down the original owner and dealer that sold the car new.
The restoration has begun - the motor has suffered the most from sitting so long and has been completely rebuilt. This is what a Corvair power train looks like out of the car - minus carbs, exhaust and cooling shrouds. The bottom of the car and power train are covered in red clay.
Powder coating was done by The Finishing Centre in Barrie Ontario. I highly recommend them, great quality, good price and it was done on time, just as they promised. If only the rest of the project went this smoothly!!
New carpet from Clark's Corvairs has now been installed - it fits great. Almost everything you get from Clark's seems to be of top notch quality OEM type quality. http://www.corvair.com
The paint on the car is still the original factory lacquer, and although it still has a great shine it has enough bumps and dings that I'm going to have to have the car repainted to make it look new again.
This is what the stock motor looks like in a turbocharged Corvair - rebuilding it is creating a bit of a dilemma - do you do it completely stock, or do you add some of the more recent technology used on turbo motors to make it a lot more efficient and powerful.
Once again a project seems to have turned into an episode of
Seems I've eventually modified every car or motor I've ever owned, so why should this one be any different. Let's just skip the 38 years of tinkering that I would have spent on my original Corsa and take it to where it would probably be right now if I had kept it!
Already optioned with the top of the line 180 hp turbo motor this car was a great starting point for some major upgrades that include:
The Modifications To the Power Train
The stock turbo induction system had one draw through carb ahead of the Rajay turbo charger. The factory carb was purposely sized by GM to limit boost and prevent detonation which could destroy the motor. The current setup uses other methods to control detonation so a larger turbo, inter-cooler and two blow through carburetors are installed.
The modified Rochester HV carbs have the main jets increased in size and relocated to the sides of the fuel bowls, the float chamber vents are extended above the air horn about 3" and the throttle shafts are pressurized to prevent air and fuel being forced out under boost.
The fuel system uses a boost compensating fuel pressure regulator from a Maserati Bi-Turbo motor as they were designed to supply two carbs on a turbocharged engine. Factory fuel lines were replaced and upgraded to larger ones, the factory mechanical fuel pump has been replaced by an electric at the front of the car.
All of the additional hardware and the controls and gauges to monitor them has meant some major changes to the stock factory wiring. I've installed a second factory wiring harness from front to back of the car (16 conductors) and had a custom gauge and control pod made by M.C. Lazer Werks in Barrie ON. They do nice "Werk"!
The air to water inter-cooler system took the most engineering - especially since this is an air cooled car!
The other components are:
This will be a fun car to drive!!
It's October 04 and finally things are coming together!
Help Along the Way
I was fortunate enough to make acquaintances with Dave Binnie of Carlisle Ontario, who has a car almost identical to mine. He has built several turbo motors with some of the mods mentioned above. You can learn more about his car at http://www.corvaircorsa.com/binnie01.html He's keeping me on the straight and narrow - or leading me far astray from a restoration point of view - depends on how you look at it.
A great site to learn more about these fabulous cars is Gary Aube's - which is located at: http://www.corvaircorsa.com/intro.html
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