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62 Spyder Project Car
In June 2001, we were antiquing in Martinez California. We came across a very nice white Turbo Corsa (see photo). This got me thinking about Corvairs in earnest. I decided to check eBay for Corvairs to see what was out there. I was surprised to see almost 1,000 items. I spent hours browsing through the list. I also discovered that there are great sources of parts for the Corvair at Clarks and the Corvair Underground. Importantly, I joined the Corvair Society of America (CORSA) which provides a fabulous body of knowledge for the Corvair.
I found a dashboard from a 1962 Spyder being auctioned. This item touched home. Forty plus years ago, I had a new 1962 Corvair Spyder and remembered it as one of my favorite cars. I bid on the dashboard and was pleased to be the successful bidder. I didn't have any real use for the dashboard except to just have it.
One thing led to another. I wasn't satisfied with owning a neat brushed-aluminum dashboard so I bid on a complete 1962 Spyder and "won" the auction on December 8, 2001. I flew down to Orange County from San Jose, California and then drove the Spyder 425 miles to my home. My friends and chidren had a pool on where I would break down on this trip. The Corvair made it without a hitch.
My first project car was really a mutt. It was a 1962 Corvair that had been upgraded by the previous owners. The first owner added a Clark's interior, front disk brakes, and a 1964 era front suspension with an anti-sway bar. The second owner had Larry's Corvair of Gardena California "spyderize" the car by adding a rebuilt 164 cubic inch turbo engine, an Isky 260 camshaft, and the Spyder dashboard, glove compartment door and exterior emblems. The car ran well in terms of power and handling but it leaked oil and gas, and it also made loud scraping noises in left turns.
I hadn't worked on a Corvair since 1967 so I searched for help on the CORSA web site and found Mel Raven of M & J Vair Mart in San Jose. First, Mel replaced the 1962 transmission with a 1964 unit and added a new clutch and seals.
I then replaced the 150 HP Carter carburetor with a rebuilt 180 HP unit. This correctly matched the carburetor with the 180 HP turbo unit that was in the car. I also added a new fuel pump and fuel flow regulator. Mel replaced the rear bearings to cure the noise and he upgraded the rear suspension to a 1964 configuration. After this initial work, the car ran very strong, didn't leak, handled well, and was a great conversation piece when I drove it to Starbucks.
I was surprised to discover how many strangers had once owned a Corvair and now want to talk about their experiences. My experience with this project car let to a quest to collect three great Corvairs that represent the best of this wonderful car. My goal was to own a 1964 Corvair Spyder convertible, a 1966 Turbo Corsa coupe, and a 1966 Yenko Stinger (one of the first 100).
I acquired the 1964 Spyder convertible from an owner in Palm Desert, California in March 2003. I got the 1966 Turbo Corsa from an owner in Wisconsin in September 2003. I closed my quest with the purchase of a Yenko Stinger in Illinois in November 2003. Because I only have storage for three cars, I traded away my original project car. I still miss it.