Corvairs & Fieros
Topic started by: davikan, Date: 07-01-2008 11:53 AM
Original thread: http://www.fiero.nl/forum/Archive-000002/HTML/20090907-1-071603.html


davikan (davikan@gmail.com) MSG #1, 07-01-2008 11:53 AM
      My girlfriend, dog, and I were in Ventura, California on June 24th, so we stopped by the big International Corvair convention. I've always liked these cars - I remember having a vague awareness of the Corvair and thinking it was cool even before the Fiero 1st appeared.

Only lately have I realized the similarities between the two designs:
- Both have engines in the back (yeah, yeah: I know that the Corvair is rear-engined and the Fiero is mid-engined.)
- Both have reputations for catching on fire.
- Both model lines were killed by GM after bad press, even though significant improvements had been made.

I don't *think* that I specifically have a thing for mid/rear-engined cars with bad reputations, but since the Fiero and the Corvair are two of my favorites... well, maybe I do!

Anyway, check out the following pictures. I walked up to this car and immediately noticed the seats. The owners were sitting nearby, and I asked:
"Hey! Are these FIERO seats?"
He said "The secret's out! You nailed it. And you know what? They dropped right in like they were *made* for the Corvair!"







So, as you can see, the two cars share something else as well - Fiero seats!

How many of you here on Pennock's Forum are Corvair fans? Personally, I think the two car communities have a lot in common. Maybe someone should start organizing Corvair/Fiero-only car shows? Just a thought...

P.S. Here's one of my girlfriend with a particularly nice convertible Corvair:



We keep meaning to do a shoot with my Fieros for the "Girls With Fieros" thread... alas, she and I are have both been too busy at work. Soon, hopefully...



Synthesis (synssins@gmail.com) MSG #2, 07-01-2008 01:49 PM
      I have to say... The Corvair with the Fiero seats, and the Gunmetal one look like they are New Retro models.

Absolutely beautiful cars.



Dudeus (brang83@valornet.com) MSG #3, 07-01-2008 01:49 PM
      I've always liked Corvairs, the girlfriends not too shabby either .
Did you have your Fiero with you to show off?


KurtAKX MSG #4, 07-01-2008 02:08 PM
      2.8 6 cylinder engines are common between them.

Justin_J (tin_man64@hotmail.com) MSG #5, 07-01-2008 03:34 PM
      I don't really know anything about the Corvair...I had no idea that the engine was in the back! You got any pics of that?

davikan (davikan@gmail.com) MSG #6, 07-01-2008 03:38 PM
     
 
quote
Originally posted by Dudeus:

I've always liked Corvairs, the girlfriends not too shabby either .
Did you have your Fiero with you to show off?


No, we were in her daily driver SUV. A car trip of a few hundred miles with two people and a 60 lb retriever doggie in a Fiero?

Um.... *no.*

But I got the feeling that I would have gotten a lot of friendly, "fraternal" looks by rolling up in a Fiero.



Hulki U. My-BFF (adweigle@hughes.net) MSG #7, 07-01-2008 03:47 PM
      Those are some nice Corvairs and nice headlights too!

Shad0wguy MSG #8, 07-01-2008 03:59 PM
      I don't see the Corvair in that last pic, you sure it's in there.

davikan (davikan@gmail.com) MSG #9, 07-01-2008 04:14 PM
     
 
quote
Originally posted by Justin_J:

I don't really know anything about the Corvair...I had no idea that the engine was in the back! You got any pics of that?


I snapped this one of a particularily modified engine bay:



Here's something interesting: A "Devin C" which was apparantly Corvair powered, but according to the sign, "not a kit car" (with Kat and Tisza):





Here's a really drool-worthy hard top:





And, a really nice version of the earlier body style. I think of this as sort of equivalent to our notchies, and the 2nd generation Corvair as being equivalent to our Fastbacks... Maybe?



And, to add yet another similarity to the Fiero, here's a picture of a picture of what they apparantly were planning the next Corvair to look like. Maybe this is the Corvair version of our stillborn '89 and '90 prototypes?



Pretty cool, huh?

Are you guys starting to see why I think there are a BUNCH of similarities between the Corvair and the Fiero?



Old Lar MSG #10, 07-01-2008 04:46 PM
      I learned to drive in my brother '63 Corvair Monza with a 4 speed and all black. A fun car although my brother drove it into a parked car and totaled the car.

30+mpg (wshaw@par1.net) MSG #11, 07-01-2008 05:48 PM
      1960-1964 Corvairs had rear swing axles and a breakaway, loose-it, spin, oversteer handling. In a straight line at speed It felt as though the car was balanced on top of a single rail and that turning to either side would cause it to tip off.

Air cooled. No radiator in the front. No comparison to Fieros except the engine was behind the driver.

When cruising over 75mph in the summer, the oil temp would exceed 270 F. A friend had a 65 with a slight oil leak. In the winter his windshield would get an oil film on the inside from the defroster.

[This message has been edited by 30+mpg (edited 07-01-2008).]

davikan (davikan@gmail.com) MSG #12, 07-01-2008 06:09 PM
     
 
quote
Originally posted by 30+mpg:

1960-1964 Corvairs had rear swing axles and a breakaway, loose-it, spin, oversteer handling. In a striaght line at speed It felt as though the car was balanced on top of a single rail and that turning to either side would couse it to tip off.

Air cooled. No radiator in the front. No comparison to Fieros except the engine was behind the driver.

When cruising over 75mph in the summer, the oil temp would exceed 270 F. A friend had a 65 with a slight oil leak. In the winter his windshield would get an oil film on the inside from the defroster.



I've heard those complaints. I'm sure that they're valid ones. Sorry, but I still like the Corvair. After all, Fieros have their drawbacks too, and we here on Pennock's still like them...

Besides - you mention all the negatives of the '60-'64 Corvairs, but not what they became in '65 and on (except for your friend's oil film issue.) Kind of sounds like the comparison that could be made between the Iron Duke and bargain-parts-bin suspension in the original Fiero, and the new suspension/V6 in the '88 Fiero.

If you want reliable cars that you just drive into the ground and then throw away and replace, get Toyotas (Oh my God, what can of worms have I opened up by saying THAT?!?)

If you want something with *character*, you get a Fiero or dare I say it, a Corvair.

By the way, don't worry: I still like Fieros more than Corvairs!



hyperv6 MSG #13, 07-01-2008 06:17 PM
      The rear swing axle realy was blames more for tucking under and not just spinning the car but flipping them over.

The 65 Got a rear axle like the Corvette that had a u joint on each end/ The 60-64 only had them on the transaxle end. The funny part is Nadar went after the Vair but not the Beetle that used the same axle and had similar problems.

Never heard of any fire problems with these. They Syders in the early 60s had shifter knobs that would break off.

My dad had 61,62,63,64,65,66 COrvairs and I brough a 1965 Convertible back form the dead. It only had 7,000 miles and was crashed in 1967. The body was fixed but the engine was locked. A little Marvel Mystery oil and rebuid of the two carbs it was on the road like a new car. It even had the original ribbed Firestone tires on it. We had to take them off as they had too much dry rot but they held air.

What really killed the Vair was the Mustang. Once it caught fire in 1964 it sealed the Vairs fait. Work began on the Camaro and Chevy lost interest in the Vair. The 327 was cheaper to build vs the Flat Six and the Camaro was Cheaper to build than the Corvair that no longer shared a platform with anything else at GM.

Buick, Olds and Pontiac shared this platform. The Buick and Olds used front Engine an Aluminum 215 V8 solid rear axle. The Pontiac Tempest was a Front engine with a Corvair rear transaxle. It had what they called a rope drive shft John Delorean designed himself. It had a long bend that made for a near flat floor in the car.

It was not very large and even was used in the V8 option. Pontiac also employed a Slant 4 cylinder that was half a 389 V8 It was ruff and noisy but had some power.

It is a shame the Vair is just now getting credit on being a good car. the 1965-69 was a very good car but the lack of support of GM when they started the Camaro program killed it. Nadars book was noit much more help.

Note these cars had no part with the power glude two speed trannys. So it was important to have an emergecy brake.

The 1965 -69 2 door coupe is one of GM's best designes. It was a very sharp car.

Dad always loved driving them in the snow as he could get anywhere. He said it was like the Sherman tank he used to drive.


Russ544 MSG #14, 07-01-2008 06:48 PM
     
 
quote
Originally posted by davikan:


I snapped this one of a particularily modified engine bay:






cool. never seen one done that way before. I think Crown still makes a kit to put the SBC in the back seat area, in front of the late Vair tranaxle, with flipped ring gear. always wanted to do that........ maybe in the next life

Thanks for sharing the pics,
Russ


Formula88 MSG #15, 07-01-2008 06:49 PM
      My dad had a '61 Corvair Monza 4-door when we were growing up. Both of my older sisters and I learned how to drive in it.

I've always loved the look of the late model Corvairs, though - especially the coupe and convertible. (duh)
I wouldn't mind finding a '66 Corvair Corsa 140 4-speed.

For those not familiar, Corvair engines were listed by horsepower, not cubic inches - so if your car had a 110 or 140 engine, that meant 110 HP or 140 HP, not cubic inches.

The 140 HP engine was the high performance normally aspirated engine - complete with FOUR 1 barrel carbs.

Credit: http://www.corvaircorsa.com/4carbs.html

And they have a unique sound all their own.


And then there's this one:

um, it's not stock....

[This message has been edited by Formula88 (edited 07-01-2008).]

avengador1 (avengador1@aol.com) MSG #16, 07-01-2008 06:59 PM
      You could also get them with a turbo. Here is one I saw near here last year.




Gokart Mozart MSG #17, 07-01-2008 07:10 PM
      A little known fact is GM dropped advertising (sound familiar?) in 67 because they planned on dropping the Corvair, before Nader wrote his book.

 
quote
Originally posted by davikan:



That wouldn't be Tin Can Tourists in the background?


2farnorth MSG #18, 07-01-2008 07:29 PM
     
 
quote
Originally posted by avengador1:

You could also get them with a turbo. Here is one I saw near here last year.


Yeah, The turbocharged Corvair Monza Spyder (and later Corsa) was a quick little car. If I remember right Yenko (or somebody simular) made some "special" ones that were screamers.

I had a 64 Monza 2 door that was a fun little car to drive. It could get you in trouble even quicker than the Fiero does. The weight bias was way to the rear. Tht flat opposed air cooled 6 cyl was relatively easy to work on, but the fan belt could be a headache.



rogergarrison MSG #19, 07-01-2008 07:34 PM
      Did ya also notice the resemblence of the concept to the AeroVette concept.....?

Dennis LaGrua (dlagrua@live.com) MSG #20, 07-01-2008 08:19 PM
      I owned a Corvair w a stick quite a while back and it drove like a POS. It was sluggish, noisy, uncomfortable to ride in and if you went around a corner going over 20MPH in the rain, you would end up in a bad 360* tail spin. All the weight was behind the rear axle and that makes for a unstable and unsafe ride. The Fiero performs 1000% better in all ways.



madcurl (madcurl@fiero-performance.com) MSG #21, 07-01-2008 08:42 PM
     
 
quote
Originally posted by davikan:


I snapped this one of a particularily modified engine bay:




Hey man, that looks like a Fiero hood brace.


DeLorean00 (twincam18@aol.com) MSG #22, 07-01-2008 09:33 PM
      I got one of those Corvairs sitting at my parents house. Its my dads actually and he is the second owner and was good friends with the original owner. Its a mint 1965 pale yellow corvair monza convertible with only 65k original miles. It sure is fun to drive around in.

30+mpg (wshaw@par1.net) MSG #23, 07-01-2008 10:15 PM
      I had a '63 then a '64 Corvair. In the 5 years that I owned them I had the engine rebuilt twice and did it myself the third time.

My next car was a Karman Ghia. Ghia could run at 75 mph all day and still give 32.5mpg! Made the Corvairs look like the under-engineered cars they truly were!


Formula88 MSG #24, 07-01-2008 10:44 PM
     
 
quote
Originally posted by 30+mpg:

I had a '63 then a '64 Corvair. In the 5 years that I owned them I had the engine rebuilt twice and did it myself the third time.

My next car was a Karman Ghia. Ghia could run at 75 mph all day and still give 32.5mpg! Made the Corvairs look like the under-engineered cars they truly were!


Wow. You blew three engines in 5 years? I'm not sure how that's GM's fault.


IMSA GT (drumwzrd@comcast.net) MSG #25, 07-01-2008 10:51 PM
      I owned a 1960 4 door that I completely restored. It has the big 4'' whitewalls and original trim rings with the bow tie around the edges. The car was so much fun and it took about 2 minutes for the old tube radio to charge up so I could listen to the AM stations

olejoedad MSG #26, 07-01-2008 11:07 PM
     
My first car was a 65 Corvair Moza 110 hp 4 speed.

The engines displaced 164 ci. (2.6 L)

The CorvEight was a conversion engineered by Crown (or Eeico) - the SBC was mounted in the back seat and the special clutch output shaft ran into the front bearing cover of the 66 and later Saginaw 4 speeds - no ring gear flipping needed - wouldn't work with earlier 4 speeds. A 250 horse 327 would put the car into the 11's on the crappy tires of the day.

The Corsa (140 HP - 4 carb) had one of the best instrumented dashes ever

Rear weight bias was made worse by a front mounted gas tank (In front of the dashboard)

I could have the drivetrain out and on the ground in about 45 minutes by myself (unfortunately had lots of practice)

Occasionally the dipstick would pop up and allow oil to cover the top of the engine - then the interior filled with LOTS of oil smoke

Used to pull VW's out of the ditch in the winter

Absolutely a great car!!



fiamma (fiamma@sbcglobal.net) MSG #27, 07-02-2008 02:41 AM
      This discussion brought back memories of my '65 Corvair with the factory turbo.
It was 180hp. I liked the handling, the sound, the styling, things that later
led me to the fiero. The pre65 handling was not as good as was mentioned.
I remember following a '62 corvair on a LA freeway, he braked, the rearend came
around and he rolled over. Sales suffered not only from the Nader book, but the
mustangs and camaros had v8 engines with a lot better straight-line performance
which sold cars.


davikan (davikan@gmail.com) MSG #28, 07-02-2008 03:09 AM
     
 
quote
Originally posted by 30+mpg:
1960-1964 Corvairs had rear swing axles and a breakaway, loose-it, spin, oversteer handling. In a straight line at speed It felt as though the car was balanced on top of a single rail and that turning to either side would cause it to tip off.
Air cooled. No radiator in the front. No comparison to Fieros except the engine was behind the driver.
When cruising over 75mph in the summer, the oil temp would exceed 270 F. A friend had a 65 with a slight oil leak. In the winter his windshield would get an oil film on the inside from the defroster.

 
quote
Originally posted by 30+mpg:
I had a '63 then a '64 Corvair. In the 5 years that I owned them I had the engine rebuilt twice and did it myself the third time.
My next car was a Karman Ghia. Ghia could run at 75 mph all day and still give 32.5mpg! Made the Corvairs look like the under-engineered cars they truly were!


I gotta say: You sound an awful lot like a Fiero hater, hell-bent on pointing out all the bad things about the car you've decided to hate. All your criticisms are valid! The Corvair is NOT the best engineered car of all time! But, I still like it. I think both the 1st and 2nd generation body styles look great, and yes, I would own one if I had the money and the storage space. (Two Fieros and a Subaru are already more than I know where to put!)

Guess what: I like Karman Ghias too. Oh - but hey - I HATE the Suzuki X90. I think it's the ugliest little doesn't-know-what-it-wants-to-be-pregnant-roller-skate-looking-piece-of-crap thing I've ever seen. But hey - I'm sure it has fans too. So, I think I'll spend more time liking Fieros and Corvairs than I will hating the X90. There are, after all, only 24 hours in one day: one has to budget them wisely.

ANYWAY, the thread was originally about posting a picture of Fiero seats in a different car, and also to point out similarities between two cars that I like, and I think I've gotten the answer that I wanted, namely: other people see the same similarities, and like both cars as I do.

Cool.



davikan (davikan@gmail.com) MSG #29, 07-02-2008 03:13 AM
     
 
quote
Originally posted by Gokart Mozart:
A little known fact is GM dropped advertising (sound familiar?) in 67 because they planned on dropping the Corvair, before Nader wrote his book.


Are you saying that the Corvair would have died a quiet death even without Nader, that GM didn't need him to see the car killed off? Interesting re-write of what I know about the car! And yes, familiar too. GM gets a design right (or at least more right than where they start it) and then kills it off.

Hmmm..... I wonder if this kind of corporate thinking has anything to do with them losing market share.....

NAHHHHH! Couldn't be!



jscott1 MSG #30, 07-02-2008 03:23 AM
     
 
quote
Originally posted by davikan:


Are you saying that the Corvair would have died a quiet death even without Nader, that GM didn't need him to see the car killed off? Interesting re-write of what I know about the car! And yes, familiar too. GM gets a design right (or at least more right than where they start it) and then kills it off.



The Corvair was overshadowed by a new car that Chevy needed to focus on...the Camaro. The Mustang was eating their lunch and the Camaro was much more important to Chevy at the time. The Corvar was on it's way out, and the Nadar book was just the icing on the cake.


hyperv6 MSG #31, 07-02-2008 07:00 AM
     
 
quote
Originally posted by jscott1:


The Corvair was overshadowed by a new car that Chevy needed to focus on...the Camaro. The Mustang was eating their lunch and the Camaro was much more important to Chevy at the time. The Corvar was on it's way out, and the Nadar book was just the icing on the cake.



A man who really knows what happened.

The other effects of no advertising and the like were just side effects. The Mustang sales and GM's interwt in the cheaper to build Camaro were what were beind the Corvairs death.

As for unrefinded guys keep in mind this was a low priced car designed in the 50's and built in the 60's. Contrary to what many want to remember things were not all that refined then.

I had a Karmin Gia too. It was a roll over due to the runrefined rear axle. We made it into our go cart. We also has several beetles and while they were reliable cars they were not any more refined than the Vair.

The first 4 years were not the best nor was 1969 as they left off the rust proofing and they rusted away quickly that year.

I cust apart an old sedan and used the engine in another project. The car was as well built as many cars of their time. The biggest general engine problem was a small oil leak. As for noise the VW is not much better and had a lot less power. Rust was always an issue on the Bug and Ghia bodied cars.

Our Ghia chassis broke due to rust.

The Vair was like the Fiero a inexpensive car that could be made fun to drive. It was not perfect but look at what they cost.

Today Yenko Stinggers are becoming a collectable and one of the rarest and oddest Muscle Cars to collect today.


Gokart Mozart MSG #32, 07-02-2008 07:01 AM
      Doing some reading and I guess my memory is slacking a little...
wiki:
According to researchers such as noted GM historian Dave Newell, GM had already planned on ceasing Corvair production after the 1966 model year to make way for the Camaro. But the timing of Nader's book turned out to be an inconvenience. Not wanting to appear as though they were buckling to Nader's pressure, GM kept the Corvair in production for another three years.

In what may be the automotive industryís greatest irony, NHTSA, the federal agency created from Naderís consumer advocacy, investigated the Corvair and issued a report in 1971 clearing the carís design, two years after the car went out of production.

Part of Naderís evidence against the Corvair was a promotional film created by Ford Motor Company, in which a Ford test driver purposely turned the Corvair in a way to make it spin around. Such films were not uncommon. GM also had films showing the Ford Econoline pickups standing on their noses under heavy braking.


http://www.ponysite.de/phclark_GM.htm
http://www.corvetteactionce...istory/shinoda1.html

Phil Clark and Larry Shinoda worked on the Corvair and Mako Shark, as well as worked at the same time as Hulki Aldikaeti, and jumped ship and worked on the Boss Mustang.



Note the signature scoops on the Monza GT, the fastback style fake air vents.
While the scoop style element that might have originated in the earlier pre-57 luxury cars with their air conditioning systems, it was definitely reused on the 67 Mustang and later german Capri.



olejoedad MSG #33, 07-02-2008 10:19 AM
      The Corvair was originally GM's response to the VW, and more importantly to Ford's Falcon. When the pony-car craze hit with the Mustang (based on the Falcon chassis and driveline, GM responded with the Camero.

When I got my first Fiero, and raised the front hood, I said "The hood support is just like the one on my Corvair"!

A buddy of mine had a Meyers-based dune buggy with 66 corvair front and rear suspension and a worked over Corvair flat six. He ran B60-13's in front and M60-15 on the rear and the car was absolutely terrifying to ride in. It was set up for autocross and would top out at about 70mph in about 31/2 seconds. About the time you thought he should slow down for the corner he would downshift and punch it and accelerate into the corner, just to make you scream!


jscott1 MSG #34, 07-02-2008 11:57 AM
     
 
quote
Originally posted by olejoedad:

When I got my first Fiero, and raised the front hood, I said "The hood support is just like the one on my Corvair"!



That is the biggest surprise of this thread... I swear those two hood struts are interchangeable. And that explains a lot... it's a crappy designed strut by the way. I replaced mine with gas struts and it works about a million times better.



davikan (davikan@gmail.com) MSG #35, 07-02-2008 02:29 PM
      I think the Monza GT would have been pretty cool. When open, the headlight doors look like something "Q" would have put on one of his car designs for MI-6, except that they would have exposed flamethrowers or gatling guns or something like that...

http://www.carstyling.ru/en...ir%20Monza%20GT.html



hyperv6 MSG #36, 07-02-2008 08:58 PM
     
 
quote
Originally posted by jscott1:


That is the biggest surprise of this thread... I swear those two hood struts are interchangeable. And that explains a lot... it's a crappy designed strut by the way. I replaced mine with gas struts and it works about a million times better.



Those struts have been used in many different GM vehicles over the years. Some Vans And if I recall correctly even a few years of Corvettes.


Formula88 MSG #37, 07-02-2008 10:32 PM
     
 
quote
Originally posted by jscott1:


That is the biggest surprise of this thread... I swear those two hood struts are interchangeable. And that explains a lot... it's a crappy designed strut by the way. I replaced mine with gas struts and it works about a million times better.


It's not the best design strut - I'll give you that. But, I've never seen one "leak down" and fail to hold the hood up.


TK MSG #38, 07-02-2008 10:41 PM
      Fill 'er up with oil and check the gas would ya?

A buddy had a turbo Corvair. I liked them. All cars have their issues.

[This message has been edited by TK (edited 07-02-2008).]

brandon87gt (traylor88@yahoo.com) MSG #39, 07-02-2008 11:18 PM
      I think I'm with you davikan. I've never owned a corvair but always thought they were cool cars. I almost bought one when I was 17 but it just wasn't practical at the time.
I think that maroon hardtop is downright gorgeous, makes me want one just looking at that picture. Thanks for sharing.


davikan (davikan@gmail.com) MSG #40, 07-03-2008 10:56 AM
     
 
quote
Originally posted by brandon87gt:

I think I'm with you davikan. I've never owned a corvair but always thought they were cool cars. I almost bought one when I was 17 but it just wasn't practical at the time.
I think that maroon hardtop is downright gorgeous, makes me want one just looking at that picture. Thanks for sharing.


You're welcome, and yes, the maroon hardtop -- there's just something about it. Understated, but almost *mean* looking. A VERY sweet car. I always liked Corvairs without having much of a sense of their history, but as I learn more about them, it's as if they share an affinity with the Fiero. They're both underdogs - both maligned by most people who know cars. And yet, when you get to know them, and especially when you see nicely preserved or well-modified versions, I fail to see why one would spend so much emotional energy hating them.

Then again, I spend a WHOLE lot of emotional energy LOVING the Fiero, and there are those that would scream "IT'S JUST A CAR!" So... to each his own, I guess...

Let me ask about something I asked earlier in the thread: does anyone else think a Corvair/Fiero-only car show would be a good idea? Just a thought...



jaskispyder MSG #41, 07-03-2008 11:33 AM
      Don't forget the Chevy II, that had an impact on the Corvair also.

J.


davikan (davikan@gmail.com) MSG #42, 07-03-2008 01:36 PM
      I've never heard of it, so I Googled an image. Cool car.



How about this one - the 1963 Corvair Monza SS idea car:





Droolworthy!

Yikes: Is this still a Fiero-related thread?



Gokart Mozart MSG #43, 07-03-2008 02:11 PM
     
 
quote
Originally posted by davikan:



That wouldn't be Tin Can Tourists in the background?