I believe Corvair was only offered with carburation. On the 1965 to 1969 Corvairs, they had a 164 cid horizontally opposed 6 cylinder engine. The 95 and 110 hp models had 2 carburators, the 140 hp models had big valves and 4 carburators, and the 180 hp model had one carburator and a turbocharger.
It sounds like either your buddies car was heavily modified for fuel injection, or more likely they were leaks in the fuel lines to the 4 carburators of the 140 horsepower, 164 cid engine. One other possibility was the aftermarket four barrel carburator in the center with the four legged intake manifold to the 140 hp heads.
Irregardless, he was lucky it didn't catch fire and burn to the ground with all that gas spraying everywhere. I suspect the cracks were in the overheated heads and integral intake manifolds.
I would agree that the late model Corvair convertible was a sharp looking car; although structurally, I liked the two door hardtop better. The convertable had additional bracing in the floor and 60 pound hydraulic dampeners in the four corners. (I guess the dampeners were to reduce unibody oil-canning vibration.) My modified V8 Corvair was a 2 door hardtop with additional "roll-bar appearing" door posts welded in. This triangulation provided a much stronger structure for better suspension tuning, and body stiffness.
In the 80s I had a buddy who was rock and roller who was "into" the 60s. He had just gotten an advance from a record deal and went out and bought himself a nice-looking Corvair convertible. Don't know what size engine it had, but in any case it was fuel injected. He knew next to nothing about cars, just knew that it looked really "cool". (And boy it sure did!)
One day he came to me complaining that there was a strong gas and exhaust smell inside the car while driving. Could I take look at it? I'm not a hard-core mechanic like you guys, but I knew enough... We parked it on the street and opened the hood - I had him start it up and give it a little gas. Immediately there was gas spraying out onto the (soon to be very hot) exhaust manifold from 3 leaking injectors. Yikes!
It was also easy to see that there was a huge crack in the manifold, with exhaust blasting out.
Well, there went the rest of his big advance... :-(
Good story, David. A friend of mine in the mid-1960s took his 1962 Corvair too fast around a residential corner and rolled it -- without a seatbelt. He ended up right-side up. He took a couple deep breaths and drive if home. The car was a tad scraped up on the sides, but otherwise it was in perfect working order.
Yes, that was a fun time to be a driver . . . I still have fun with a little Cavalier. I am looking into installing a roll cage, dropping a 3.8 Liter motor and transaxle from a Pontiac, and replacing the supercharger with a turbocharger and intercooler. That combination could get me close to 300 horsepower in a 2300 pound car.
The Corvair could take quite a hit an still be "functional". In the late 1970's, a buddy bought a Corvair "parts car" that had been hit while parked. A GTO had hit it at around 40 mph head-on and pushed it on top of the Corvette parked behind it. The Corvair front was punched-in over 18" with the front suspension moved back about 8" and the steering column safety telescoping collapsed. The Corvette behind it had over $1000 damage (back then that was very big bucks), and the Corvair rear engine had been pushed forward about 2". Now here's the amazing part. We removed the front hood, opened the left front fender with a sledgehammer, replaced the left front wheel, and bent the throttle linkage until we could get about 3/4 throttle with the gas pedal down. With these relatively minor "fixes", he was able to start and gently drive this car over 20 miles down to his house in southern Delaware. Even the exhaust system was quiet with a muffler that had been punched forward about 4" and the muffler was about 1.5" shorter. I'm sure the legality of his drive was bogus with the damage sustained; even with, current registration and inspection, but it did drive! Both the GTO and Corvette needed a tow.
I liked your look at the old Corvairs. Growing up, we had two of them. Aside from the constant fan belt issue, they were in fact very good cars, even in stock trim. We didn't have any other problems with them. My mother's was a '64 stock-o and my father had a '66 (?) Monza. His got hit hard three times and was repaired fine each time. Later on, my brother had a Monza Spyder Convertable. That was a pretty quick little thing. He later sold it for large $$.
Ever notice that Ralph Nader never once commented on the burning Pintos (had one - terrible car) or other deadly Ford products? Just wondering out loud here. I also agree that the Corvair was pretty safe, but different enough in handling that a poor driver often would get themselves in trouble. Just like with a Porshe or "bug". We had a car lot, so had experience with just about everything.
Your V8 Corvair must have been a heart stopper.! I had a '67 Cutlass that I installed a (real) 450 bhp 327 come 331 cid engine in. It was difficult to turn over due to the high compression. It also went through engine mounts until racing mounts were installed. I can't blame GM engineering for broken motor mounts, they were due to my abusive situation. Even stock Old's would eventually break engine mounts if you kept jumping on the gas. The early "rocket" motors really were different than a Chev. engine. All in all, the 60's and early 70's were a fun time to be a driver.
In 1964 Corvair added a suspension component that limited the down travel and potential negative POSITIVE camber.
Oops. My error.
Additional Suspension Design/Set-up Background:
The suspension design changes were to get rid of the possible heavy positive camber weight-jacking on the outside loaded wheel that could contribute to roll-over tendencies when hitting rough pavement in a hard turn with a swing axle suspension.
Street suspension alignment calls for 1 degree positive static camber, presumably for better wheel bearing load balance and tire wear. Race handling is improved by setting the camber with 1 to 2 degrees negative static camber. This could just be set on the front and independent suspensions. This negative static camber was done with lowering springs on the swing-axle suspensions.
That's pretty good, David. I hadn't heard the counter argument to Nader's book. Thanks for the detail. I very much enjoyed my Corvair -- my first car. I can't remember why I switched to a Rambler after a couple years. I was probably facing a pricy repair job and a new used car was less expensive.
Fifty-six-year-old Pasquale Russo has been doing metalwork for more than 30 years in a tiny southern Italy village. Many craftsmen like him brought with them fabrication skills when they came from the Old World to America.
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