1 (edited by squirrel 2017-06-12 08:11 AM)

Topic: Going air cooled

We had a lot of fun in the Edsel last year, but I sold it last December. Now that it's time to get ready for this year's adventure, we needed a new ride. I was eyeing a 58 Caddy Fleetwood on consignment at a local lot, but the guy wants about 5 times what it's worth. And besides, they were nice cars when they were new. Looking on cl, it seems that we're down to the dregs when it comes to old cars that you can buy cheap and fix some stuff and drive them. (I like old cars, and 1970s or newer isn't what I consider old) I did notice that Corvairs pop up quite a bit when you set the max year and max price numbers to something reasonable. So, I finally bit the bullet, and called on a $800 63 Monza, almost 200 miles away. Talked to the fellow for a while, and got the feeling that it was something I could make work.

One of the best things about the Corvair, is that us older folks are well aware of it's history, entwined with that character Ralph Nader. It was a great little crappy car, and sold well over a million units (and had it's handling problems fixed) by the time the book Unsafe at Any Speed came out. But it's been branded as a LeMon ever since. I guess after driving an Edsel, the Corvair is the next best thing, if only because Pintos are just too damn new.

The car is in pretty good shape. In Arizona, the sun bakes the paint and the interior and the rubber and plastic parts. This car might have been in the Monterey area for the first part of it's life, the only clue I found to it's origin was an old advertising ball point pen on the dashboard, with an 805 area code. The chrome trim is pitted like it has seen coastal air, and the seats were still mostly intact, so it probably lived in the desert for only part of it's life. The weatherstripping is hard as a rock, and water got in and soaked the carpet, and rusted the floor. There is a hole on the driver side front, and a larger one on behind the driver seat. The passenger side only has a few pinholes.

The previous owner worked on the engine a bit, he said he got it running, but it seemed to need the carbs fixed. So he took off the carbs and rebuilt them, and took off all the shrouds from the top, and sandblasted and painted them and the air cleaners in interesting colors. Then had some health issues, and never got around to putting it back together. But he also took out the interior, and put the parts in his shed. And bought new floor pans, but never installed them. The tires were shot from sitting flat for so long.

David and I drove up there with a trailer, and hauled it home for $700.

I spent a day putting the engine back together, and got it running (from a gas can). Blue smoke everywhere. I pulled the wheels and brakes off, and ordered a bunch of parts from rockauto. I bought some new tires (they're cheap), and mounted them. I removed and cleaned the gas tank. Played with the electrics, got the lights and stuff working. Figured out how to grease the rear wheel bearings, and put in some new U joints. After a week, the brake parts arrived, so I got it back on it's wheels, and went for a drive. It worked pretty well, but ate a quart of oil every 100 miles. I found a new set of old stock rings on ebay for twenty bucks, and pulled the motor and installed the new rings. One jug was severely rusted, David found some good used ones for free, so I replaced the bad one. Now it doesn't seem to use so much oil.

Once we get the stereo installed, we'll be ready to go. I hope.




I Survived Hell on Wheels, Car Weeeak, Route Sucky Suck, etc.

Re: Going air cooled

I've noticed that Corvairs are surprisingly affordable on CL. I've been tempted.

Next Rally Car: An abandoned 1972 Opel GT (Plan-B: My late grandparent's 1996 Chevrolet Caprice Classic)
Previous Rally Cars: 1971 Opel Kadett, 1988 Chevrolet Cavalier Z24, 1998 Volvo V90 (5.0L), 1965 Ford Galaxie 500 (turbocharged 351W)

Re: Going air cooled

squirrel wrote:

I like old cars, and 1970s or newer isn't what I consider old... Pintos are just too damn new.

To my shame I've largely succumbed to the availability of cheap vehicles from the '70s and, alas, early '80s but it's good to see someone still maintaining proper standards.

1982 MG Metro 1300: IOE 2015 Pacific Northworst GP, Longest Distance 2010 Cd'L Box Wine Country Classic
1980 KV Mini 1: Worst of Show and Fright Pig Supremo 2009 Concours d'Lemons
1978 H Special: Second-Round Elimination 2010 Lemons Pinewood Derby at Sears Pointless
1967 SAAB 96: IOE 2012 Pacific Northworst GP, Organizer's Choice 2022 Hell on Wheels California Rally

4 (edited by badbadbenbernanke 2017-06-12 06:24 PM)

Re: Going air cooled

Figured out how to grease the rear wheel bearings,

<soap box>
Having owned a 63 Spyder and been a member of many Corvair forums; if you in any way doubt the rear bearings, bite the bullet and replace them.
They're kinda like a C-clip rear axle, everything from the stub shaft to the tire are held in place by not terribly substantial chunk of metal.

Because the bearing is a sealed unit that was only used on EM (Early Model, 60-64) Corvairs, they tend to be a pricey replacement part. More than a few guys have tried to milk a bad one too long and it ends catastrophically or close to.

The bearing lets go and the wheel separates from the car. The wheel takes the drum and half shaft with it. The U-joint and stub shaft won't fit through the A-arm, so you're now dragging the wheel and half shaft like an anchor until the shaft or A-arm gives. If the brakes haven't been upgraded to duel circuit, the moment you slam the brakes the wheel cylinder blows out because the drum is attached to the wheel dragging behind the car. So your ass end heavy car is now a tripod with no brakes.
</soap box>

That out of the way, looks like an awesome find!

That guy that likes the Oldsmobile Diesel for some reason.

Re: Going air cooled

Must be running OK if you made it down to Bisbee smile

Tradewinds Tribesmen Racing (The road goes on forever…)
#289 1984 Corvette Z51 #124 1984 944 #110 2002 Passat
Gone but not forgotten, #427-Hong Kong Cavaliers Benz S500
IOE (Humber!) Hell on Wheels (Jaguar)

Re: Going air cooled


Blue smoke everywhere......

45+x Loser.....You'd think I would learn......
5x I.O.E  Winner   1 Heroic Fix Winner   1 Org Choice Winner
2x  I Got Screwed Winner    2x Class C Winner
(Still a Class B driver in a Class A car)

Re: Going air cooled

The bearings felt good, just not full of grease, so I filled them with grease. I've put 800 or so miles on it already, drives just fine. Today I drove it up to Tucson again, and dropped it at my brother's house so he can play with the sound gear. Should be a fun old system, once he gets all the pieces working, and we figure out where to put everything, and get the auxiliary power system installed.

And he likes driving the little car, too. Although he hasn't had it out on the highway yet...

I Survived Hell on Wheels, Car Weeeak, Route Sucky Suck, etc.

Re: Going air cooled

I never get tired of seeing that belt take a 90deg bend. Rubber's a hell of a material.

Re: Going air cooled

We finally got around to installing the stereo today. Still need to finish up a few things...like, get the tape decks working and installed! but we did try out the inverter, preamp, amp, and speakers, it sounds good. Also the rains started before we had a chance to test the charging system.

it's getting close to August.

I Survived Hell on Wheels, Car Weeeak, Route Sucky Suck, etc.