Your Cars: Don Darnell – Chevrolet Corvair

I have always wanted a convertible, and I am also a General Motors Fan.  I was looking for an Impala or a Chevelle, but prices for a 1960’s era convertible were out of my price range.  I kept seeing Corvairs at reasonable prices when doing searches.  My dad owned a few back in the day, and I decided to purchase one off the E-bay site unseen.  The pictures were fuzzy, but I talked with the guy and he assured me that it ran.  We drove several states away and picked up our new treasure.  He didn’t lie.  I was able to drive the car up on the trailer.  We both had a bit of an uneasy feeling about what we just picked up.

I did all the things that need to be done to get a motor running better.  New vacuum hoses, gas lines, and filters were all replaced.  The car would run, but wouldn’t idle and smoked when I shifted gears.  After a compression check, I found my problem. Two pistons had thumb size holes in them. I am not even sure how the car was running  or able to go down the road at speed.

Pistons with the thumb sized holes in

A Corvair has a horizontally opposed six cylinder, and is air cooled. I was overwhelmed at the thought of a rebuild, but I found a local Corvair club, with some help from a few new friends in the club, I was able to rebuild my motor. Along with the motor, I added a new clutch, new shocks, brakes, and rebuilt the front end.

The thoroughly looked after six cylinder

My car originally came with four one barrel carburetors, and a four speed manual transmission.  The four carbs have been replaced with a Holley four barrel carburetor for easier setup.  All Corvairs came with a four wheel independent suspension, and the car handles and drives well. The car has better road manners than most 60’s era cars.

An affordable 1960s sportscar

While replacing the floorboards of the car, I was under the car for several weeks. I cause some stress to my kidney by being up and down so many times. My right kidney gave me a sign that it was unhappy. I found out that I had kidney cancer, but I caught it early enough to be removed before the cancer spread.  I believe working on the car saved my life.  My doctor told me that if I had ignored the signs that it could have been another six months before I would have shown any more signs.  Six months later may have been too late.  I have been cancer free for a year and a half now.

The Corvair is very much part of the family and saved his life

You may notice in the pictures that the paint is faded, and you may even find some rust and popping body filler on the car. I made a decision to not do any body work at the moment.  I didn’t want to have the car down for a summer and I wanted to enjoy driving it.  Last year, I was able to put over 5,000 miles on the car. I am currently working on a 65 Corvair Coupe, and once I finish it I will go back and do the body work on the car.

An honest classic, but always used when the sun is out.

You may be able to tell that the car is part of the family.  I saved it from being a parts car, and it save my life.  I could write a book about what adventures this car has taken me on.  The car has a place in my shed for very long time.

You can follow Don here.

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