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.