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Cars > oldcorvairlover’s Garage > Blog

 

1965 Corvair restoration

By oldcorvairlover

7 years ago, when I was 14 years old, I bought a Corvair at my neighbors yard sale. Before that day I had never even heard of a Corvair, but I had always loved classic cars. It wasn't in too bad of shape, but then again it wasn't in too good of shape either. It had been sitting in the barn for about 20-25 years. It originally had around 63,000 miles on it. It was a convertible Corsa model with a 180 hp turbo flat 6 engine. It was Tahitian Turquoise when I found it (later turned out to be the original color, but not original paint). After a brief negotiation with my neighbor I decided right there to buy the car, and would pay it off monthly to him. I became the 3rd owner of that car. It took about 2 years of preparing the restoration. Thankfully, my parents were ok with this, and my dad was very supportive and helpful throughout the restoration. We did a lot of work on it in the garage and got tires for it. We discovered that the car had the factory option of posi-trac, which was about a $450 option at the time. It also had a rare option of a telescopic steering column with a wooden steering wheel. We chose the Garner auto performance center to help us with what engine work we didn't have the supplies to work on or knowledge of how to repair. The transmission, thankfully, wasn't in bad shape but just needed some adjustments and tuning. That part of the engine work took just over a year to complete and was out-of-body work, but it later got a nut and bolt restoration using approximately 95% of the original parts. The turbo blower had to be replaced since the other one was damaged beyond repair. The muffler had to be replaced since the old one had holes in it and the piping was very rusted. When it came to body work we quickly realized it would take several more years to complete the car. We chose 90s NASCAR body and engine building legend and Corvair expert Barry Owen in Lexington NC to assist with the major body work and paint. We wanted to use all original Corvair parts and no aftermarket parts or reproductions and we knew he was the man to help. I wanted the car to look like, drive like, and include everything like it did when it rolled out of the factory in 1965. About half of the chrome on the car was still usable but the other chrome including front bumper and some trim and one of the side logos. The side view mirrors that were on it when I got it were after-market ones from the 70s or 80s and were hideous and I couldn't hardly see a thing out of then so they were just trashed. The front, drivers side fender had a rust hole in it about the size of a half dollar coin and was replaced with a nice fender from a donor car of the exact same model. The car had been through many paint jobs before, all of them being just crap. It had just been constantly painted over from the previous colors. It was originally Tahitian Turquoise, then at some point a nasty creamy white-ish yellow-ish color, then Cherry red, then light blue, then some sort of yellow, then back to Tahitian Turquoise. Of course, we got it painted back to its original color. The floor under the interior of the car had many rust spots that had to be patched as well as one spot in the engine bay under the battery. Both doors had to have some work done: one of them wouldn't unlock at first and the other one sustained damage when I had a little accident backing the car out of the garage about 6 months after I got it. The convertible top was not original, but needed to be replaced anyway. The upholstery was original but was in absolutely horrible condition, it looked like rats had gotten to the seats. The floor carpet actually wasn't in too bad of shape but its unknown if it was original, but it was replaced with brand new carpet. The gauges mostly worked ok but the speedometer was replaced and the odometer was replaced with a new one which will forever read miles since restoration. The original radio was in good, working shape but we took out the speakers since I plan on installing a modern radio int the glove compartment or somewhere out of plain view and with it modern speakers. The shifter knob that was on the gear stick when I bought the car was not original to the car, but rather from a car from the 30s or 40s. Dad had polished up the wood and the metal plate on top really nice, but we got the original style shifter knob just to keep it original looking as possible. On Saturday, March 7 2015, we picked up the finished product after it had gotten the new top put on and got the new hubcaps. It looked amazing and we couldn't take our eyes off of it. It had taken many years of hard work, lots of aggravation, and a small fortune to bring it back from near the grave, but we did it, and on the cars 50th birthday. What I loved about the project was the bonding time with my dad and meeting new, more knowledgeable mechanics and car builders and restorers. My purpose for restoring this car was to encourage other people my age, or even older people who have a passion for cars to chase their dream of owning a classic, and notice how special a restoration project is. Not only is it a car brought back to its prime but its a truly beautiful piece of automotive history.
 

Cars > oldcorvairlover’s Garage > Blog

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