Monday, June 8, 2015

10k: Turbo 4-Speed: 1965 Chevrolet Corvair Corsa Convertible

The second generation Chevrolet Corvair continues to be a favorite topic of discussion around the water cooler at DT HQ.  (Actually, this isn't true, because even if there was a DT HQ, we'd be drinking beer, whiskey, or tap water).  Prices for the 'Vair continue to be great for the buyer when you consider the general appreciation of all things 60's, particularly sporty models with manual transmission.  Find this 1965 Chevrolet Corvair Corsa Convertible here on eBay currently bidding for $8,600 with a few hours to go, located in Greenville, SC.

The Corvair's mechanically simplicity makes them nearly bullet proof.  No need for any ride-along mechanic and an Italian-English, English-Italian app for your phone should you decide to pursue a project or one equipped with what was extremely advanced technology in 1965 - the turbocharger.

The 2.7 liter flat-6 out back is boosted to 180 horsepower with a single non-intercooled turbocharger that does a decent job of making the most of available oxygen.  Power is routed to the rear wheels via a 4-speed manual gearbox -- no stick beam axle here, fully independent suspension lives at both ends.

See a cooler turbocharged convertible for less?


  1. Great car. The turbo really moves out nicely, just make sure to use 93 octane gas and make sure it doesn't run lean.
    My friend Greg, in high school in Ohio, had a '65 Corsa coupe. It was quick and handled well; he restored it with his dad in the garage. Nice black on black. They never got the turbo/carb completely tuned correctly...and on the highway at 70mph, the car threw a rod out the side of the engine block and through the right rear fender. They totalled the car and gave it away.

    I still love these...change the wheels and this is a keeper.

  2. I remember those wheel covers as an accessory. The only thing better would be a '69 just like it, colors and all.

  3. Replies
    1. Haha, yes, the turbocharger had been around for decades, but Cliff Garrett had only put a few on ground based vehicles starting with Cat tractors in the 1950s, and the Vair (or the Olds Jetfire?) was the first passenger vehicle to have the spinning menace under the hood. It may not have been advanced tech for the aviation industry, but for automotive engineers at GM (and the dealers who had to service the cars later), it was radical.

    2. Whenever I look up historic engines I'm continuously surprised at the exotic materials used in the construction of aircraft engines especially for the time periods when compared to the typical automobile.

    3. It isn't just materials that are exotic, the designs are as well. Planes are extremely sensitive to mass, but not so much to cost. A typical automotive turbocharger uses non-leaded tin bronze sleeve bearings (aka floating ring bearings or FRBs) running on a hydrodynamic oil film, while airplanes have used air foil bearings for decades (hydrodynamic bearings are long gone from airplane propulsion units or APUs -- although some rolling element bearings with squeeze film damper remain). You will see some talk in ASME papers and such about using foil-air bearings for automotive applications, but although they offer obvious efficiency benefits (air is less viscous than oil as a working fluid) they also pose significant challenges, such as -- oil contamination (from cooling bleed air), and how do you deal with start-stop cycles (IC engines have a significantly different duty cycle than an APU or propulsion engine in an aircraft), they are years away from any potential applications in a real product. Just my $0.02.


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