Wednesday, August 29, 2012

5k: 1965 Chevy Corvair V8

 The Chevrolet Corvair was a compact economy car produced during the 1960s, known for its aircooled rear engine setup and propensity for questionable handling.  The second generation Corvair fixed many of the suspension woes of the first car - but not before the damage done from Ralph Nader's scathing indictment of the automotive industry put the Corvair under GM's axe - the last one rolling off factory lines in 1969.  This 1965 Chevrolet Corvair is for sale on ebay in Chicago, IL, currently bidding at $1025 reserve-not-met, but $8k buy-it-now.

This Corvair is not a stock, original, clean example, but has seen a number of cosmetic alterations - including a bumper-less front end, aftermarket Centerline-style wheels and a roll-cage.  Its also got a subtle two-tone paint job on the hood - but it looks okay if you like the later style Corvairs.

 Pop the rear truck lid to admire the aircooled flat six engine...wait a minute...this looks like some kind of liquid heat exchanger...and there is no engine mounted in the rear...strange...lets look inside the cabin...

In the words of the immortal Kingfish "Holy mackerel Andy!" - the rear seats have been replaced by a small block chevy V8.  This is a mid-engined Cortera (Panvair?) sporting a small block Chevy 350 (bored 0.030" over to make it a 355) carburetor fed V8 with an aggressive cam, intake, and headers pushing out something like 400 the back seat. an enclosure in the back seat...literally sitting where you'd put your kids or the dog.  We can't imagine why you'd need speakers on the rear deck... there is now way you'll ever hear your Whitesnake album over clicking lifters, whooshing intake and slapping pistons. 

Inside the Panvair - its all business...since we can't really get away from the 7000 rpm spinning bits 6 inches from your 80s rocker hair.  Seriously - you'll need to trim your mullet to avoid getting scalped by the v-belts and we can't even describe the racket that this will make under full boil.  Oh yeah - the seller mentions a small exhaust leak in the headers - so look forward to getting burned by hot exhaust if you first don't die from CO poisoning.  Some cars have 'suicide-doors', this one has a 'suicide-mounted' engine.

All kidding aside we LOVE the idea of driving around in a '60s icon for automotive danger with an insane V8 swap...but we aren't so sure about the non-covered engine.  It just seems like its an un-tightened water pump pulley away from making the driver join an elite club of racing legends such as Ayrton Senna and Dale Earnhardt Sr. by dying from a basal skull fracture.

What do you think - does this Panvair belong in your garage or would you find one that is just a bit more stock?

See another mid-engined Chevrolet lunatic ride looking for a new owner?  emails us here:


  1. ~ the rear seat mount Kennedy Engineering type V8'Vairs were pretty popular at one time, using Toronado trans-axle.
    here's a real sharp LS1 conversion V8 Corvair, one of two father-son cars camped next to us at Super Chevy in St Louis back in June. they were both front-engined builds for those of you Whitesnake fans.

  2. At first blush, the Panvair may appear to be an exercise in death-wishery, but you're looking at this all wrong. Certain compromises must be made to drive this classic. Sure, you have to keep the windows rolled down to prevent asphyxiation, but that just has two benefits that have gone unexplored. First, it allows some of the ear-drum-destroying noise to escape and sonically wet the panties of any women you happen to pass ("We'll see you girls later!") because we all know that deafeningly loud cars get girls. It's just good science. Secondly, since the windows will have to be down ALL THE TIME to prevent an incurable case of death, you might think that it would get cold if you decide to take out your Panvair during cooler months. But fear not. You've got the best heater right behind you! Cold? Go faster! The cops will have to let you go if speed was adding to your comfort.

    Now, since you have to have the windows rolled down ALL THE TIME, you might as well remove the glass and mechanisms which only saves weight. You might gain the use of a horsepower or two with the savings!

    That extra gumption is only going to give you more confidence. Since tracks and helmets are for sissies (and that girl from Cherry Pie doesn't hang out at those), you're going to put this power to the street! The roll cage will give you added chassis rigidity as well as a great place to pop your skull open when the inevitable happens.

    This car is a great idea for the right person. And by "right person", I mean someone who should die.

    1. funny how you should want a person to die just because you hsve no insight in to this great car. They are very safe and execllent handling cars. I drive mine and race mine and for 42 years has been a safe fun car maybe your crib is a safer place to hide from reality


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