RexSeven SuperDork
Sept. 12, 2011 4:16 p.m.

While out helping my sister shop for a car (STILL), I found a Chevy Corvair Corsa Turbo (or at least a Corvair badged as such) hiding in the weeds behind one of the lots we went to. Aside from flat tires and a few missing badges and trim pieces, the body looked to be in decent shape. I wasn't able to take a look at the undercarriage, engine bay, or interior. Before you ask, Sister's answer to the Corvair was a resounding "NO!"

I know that the Corvairs were oddballs, what with them being ass-engined, powered by an air-cooled flat-6, and hated by Ralph Nader. That's about all I know. What else can you tell me about them?

P.S. This is really more out of curiosity's sake than anything else. If I didn't still have my non-turbo FC I might have considered picking it up (depending on price), but my current situation dictates that I keep the FC as a spare DD.

friedgreencorrado SuperDork
Sept. 12, 2011 4:19 p.m.

Here's Hemmings' take on it:
http://www.hemmings.com/mus/stories/2004/08/01/hmn_feature8.html

I'm sure Angry will be here in a minute to give ya some help.

Sept. 12, 2011 4:49 p.m.

All I know is my Dad's convertible leaked. He hated to get rid of it, too.

Vigo Dork
Sept. 12, 2011 5:40 p.m.

No wastegate = herp derp.

Best way to not blow it up: put on a wastegate. Just because it CAN work without a wastegate doesnt mean it should.. What it really means is the setup was dumbed down enough to not need one, which is just depressing.

Cool quirky car, though.

kreb Dork
Sept. 12, 2011 5:43 p.m.
Vigo wrote: No wastegate = herp derp. Best way to not blow it up: put on a wastegate. Just because it CAN work without a wastegate doesnt mean it should.. What it really means is the setup was dumbed down enough to not need one, which is just depressing. Cool quirky car, though.

The output was pretty good considering the dated tech. It makes you wonder how the thing would perform with better components.

Graefin10 HalfDork
Sept. 12, 2011 6:07 p.m.

This will give you a pretty good idea of what they're capable of:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L-evCfVnDfA&feature=related

This clip features Corvairs at the Walter Mitty at Road Atlanta.

It wasn't that many years ago that Corvairs were still running up front in DP at the SCCA Runoffs.

Sept. 12, 2011 6:14 p.m.

If it IS in fact a Turbo Corsa, It should have a the 180 hp turbo motor w/4-speed manual. If it's just a bunch of badges, it could possibly be the 140 hp NA motor w/4-speed manual. It should be a manual with either of those engines, if it's an PowerGlide, somebody swapped it in. If it's a coupe you should be in good shape, if it's a ragtop, just check for the normal "old convertible" possible rust issues. It is a unibody car, so you have to look for the normal dangerous rust spots. The turbo does not have a wastegate, but can be tuned to a millimeter of it's life. (I know this because my dad rebuilds them to extremely close tolerances).

Not a whole lot in aftermarket performance. Some people still make stuff, so you can still find stuff on the net.

Also, they will leak from the oil pan if you don't use something like Permatex Right Stuff along with the pan gasket. It's a bitch to take off, but it's worth it in the long run.

OEM fuel pumps are notorious for failing. Even remans suck. Most people do electric pumps now.

I have worked on these cars since I was 12. I have one, my dad has 3.

rotard Reader
Sept. 12, 2011 7:28 p.m.

I kind of want one. I'm assuming that one would make an awesome weekend cruiser. Now I'm going to spend hours looking up crap on ebay and craigslist. Thanks.

Vigo Dork
Sept. 12, 2011 7:54 p.m.
The output was pretty good considering the dated tech. It makes you wonder how the thing would perform with better components.

I agree. Although, i would look to 'modern wonders of tuning' moreso than componentry.

In the end, it is a turbo'd gas engine, and everything between the turbo inlet and tailpipe is basically just like any other motor as far as tuning goes. The fact that it is a draw-through, non-pressurized carb is a major boon for simplicity in my opinion, although it presents practical limitations on the possibility of adding (non-chemical ) intercooling.

Does anyone have specs on the factory turbo, as in wheel diameters? I'm wondering about interchangeability and upgradeability using newer components.

Im under the impression that turbine and compressor wheel design was pretty horrendous back then, so just machining the factory turbo for newer wheels might be a major upgrade (assuming the housings arent total crap).

I like this thread.. NEED MOAR INFO.

Woody SuperDork
Sept. 12, 2011 7:55 p.m.

I thought all Corsas had the 140 and all the Turbos were Spyders? There are many others here with more expertise than I...

Vigo Dork
Sept. 12, 2011 8:00 p.m.

<img src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e1/Corvair_turbo_engine.jpg" /> High-res so right click > view image and then view it full size. Doesnt look like any center section im used to seeing.

However, the setup looks EXTREMELY simple. Looks like swapping to a more-efficient modern-ish turbo would be fairly simple.

Although, if that turbo has decent sized wheels in it it looks like the factory carb would max out before the turbo.

Feedyurhed Dork
Sept. 12, 2011 8:06 p.m.

I have wanted a Corvair for years. I've held off at looking for them because if I start I won't stop until I get one. And right now I have nowhere to put it. I just can't understand why they are still so cheap.

RexSeven SuperDork
Sept. 12, 2011 8:23 p.m.

The Corvair I saw was a coupe. I might go back just to ask about it. All of this talk makes me very curious about it.

I did a little more digging and it looks like the stock Corvair turbo carb is already maxed out in order to keep boost pressure below 10psi. The stock turbo can handle only about 15psi.

Vigo Dork
Sept. 12, 2011 8:29 p.m.

http://miniman82.4t.com/car%20stuff/rajay/rajayprimer1.pdf

There it all is.. Rajay 300 series.. Definitely an interesting looking piece. The compressor wheel looks like nasty old tech but the turbine side is surprisingly decent looking and sized.

The 150hp trim comes with a turbo that, judging by the 41mm inducer on the compressor side, would be maxed out a little over 200hp.

The turbo that comes on the 180hp trim has a 46mm inducer and probably maxes out in the 250-300 crank hp region.

The so-called E-flow compressor is something of a monster for an oem ~3l app.. it's bigger than a 50 trim to4e wheel so i'd expect it to move 400+hp of air.

On the turbine side, the smallest turbine should be capable of close to 300hp, and the middle turbine should be able to flow 400hp of air, although judging by its looks it would benefit massively from a wheel clip once you get close to that region.

The biggest one is only a little bigger.. seems pointlessly large but has a more modern wheel design.

Basically if you have a 180hp trim car, the turbo that comes on that one has a decent amount of room to grow and id be looking at carb, intake pipe, and exhaust improvements before touching the turbo.

One thing i will say about those turbos is the wheels have massive 'major' diameters (the larger of the two) so im guessing you'd see a massive spool improvement if you went to a more modern turbo with smaller major diameters. The major diameters on the stock turbo are just excessive. Im guessing this is just a function of it being the early days of OEM turbocharging and possibly being based partially on aviation experience which probably requires larger major diameters on the compressor side to achieve the desired pressure ratio in super thin air vs a car near sea level.

Vigo Dork
Sept. 12, 2011 8:33 p.m.
I did a little more digging and it looks like the stock Corvair turbo carb is already maxed out in order to keep boost pressure below 10psi. The stock turbo can handle only about 15psi.

The carburetor limits the boost by restricting the turbo inlet. vomits but adding a real wastegate and giving the turbo as much air as it can use should improve spool time significantly.

Sept. 12, 2011 10:06 p.m.

there a place called American Boxer that makes a kit to install a 5-speed. Sadly it is not cheap. Cool cars though. How about a pic of the one in question?

Jim Pettengill HalfDork
Sept. 13, 2011 12:05 a.m.

Spyder was the name of the turbo early model - '62 - '64. It was an option package on the Monza at first, than became a separate model in '64, IIRC. The Corsa was the top performance model of the late models, available in '65 and '66, with either the 180 turbo or the 140 4-carb engine. The turbo was only available in the '65 and '66 Corsa late models, while the 140 was available in nearly all late models.

One thing to watch out for - because they were all air-cooled, and because this was oin the height of detroit-speak, all normally aspirated Corvair engines were called some version of "turbo-air". The low preformance ones were turbo-air, the higher performance ones were called super turbo-air. The actual turbocharged engined cars were identified by Spyder script if they were eariles, and inall cases by a round badge on the engine hood. So just because someone claims a car is a turbu, check it out, they may just be reading the engine decal and not have a clue about whether it's really turbocharged.

Gotta lighten up on the primitive technology, remember these cars were (almost) the first turbocharged production automotive engines in the world, by several years. They were technically beaten to the punch by the Olds Jetfire by a couple of weeks, but that was a short-lived experiment that disappeared quickly. In those early days, controlling boost with a tiny carb was the way they did it. Building a modern engine with megasquirt, fuel injection and intercooling would be pretty awesome.

We rallied a '66 turbo in the SCCA Pro Rally Series (stage series back in the stone ages, late '70s/early '80s), got a couple of 10th overalls with a blueprinted 180 with just a couple of mods - hybrid turbo with 150 impeller and 180 compressor, light flywheel, balanced, forged pistons, straight-through exhaust that was insulation wrapped. Otto valve covers and oil pan for those who remember what those were. 2200 lbs ready to rally, with spare tire, fuel, roll cage and skid plates. A really solid performer.

Great cars!

plance1 Dork
Sept. 13, 2011 12:21 a.m.

how would a corvair do with a sub svx engine?

Trans_Maro Dork
Sept. 13, 2011 12:49 a.m.

John Fitch modified them and found they were competetive with Porsches of the same period.

Shawn

pinchvalve SuperDork
Sept. 13, 2011 8:03 a.m.

My father's first car out of college, drove it until he literally pushed it into the junkyard with mom. It's been all full-sized Impalas and vans ever since. And when I wanted a Mustang (and reminded him of his TURBO Corvair) he got me an Impala Wagon instead. So the lesson here is that it is a cool car, but may potentially eliminate all cool car desire from you for the rest of your life.

Sept. 13, 2011 10:24 a.m.
Jim Pettengill wrote: One thing to watch out for - because they were all air-cooled, and because this was oin the height of detroit-speak, all normally aspirated Corvair engines were called some version of "turbo-air". The low preformance ones were turbo-air, the higher performance ones were called super turbo-air. The actual turbocharged engined cars were identified by Spyder script if they were eariles, and inall cases by a round badge on the engine hood. So just because someone claims a car is a turbu, check it out, they may just be reading the engine decal and not have a clue about whether it's really turbocharged.

All late model NA engines are referred as "Turbo-Air" regardless of horsepower. I have never heard of (or have seen) "Super Turbo-Air". It can be confusing since there is an actual Turbo model.

All turbocharged engines on late models will have a circular "TurboCharged" emblem on the decklid.

It will be very obvious that it is turbocharged just by opening the decklid. The turbo sits on the top of the engine. There is a cylindrical airfilter canister that sits off the carb that has a "180 TurboCharged" decal on it.

Also, all Corsa models have the 6-pod gauge cluster too.

Sept. 13, 2011 10:28 a.m.

In reply to pinchvalve:

So are you saying that if you own a Corvair, you will never buy another cool car again?

914Driver SuperDork
Sept. 13, 2011 10:42 a.m.

My understanding is the Spyder was the turbo 140 and the Corsa had four one barrels.

http://www.corvair.org/aboutcsa.php

http://www.corvairranch.com/

http://www.corvair.com/user-cgi/pages.cgi?category=corvairhistory

http://v8vairs.com/

Sept. 13, 2011 12:51 p.m.

In reply to 914Driver:

The Monza Spyder was a top end '62-'64 model that had a Turbocharged 150hp motor.

The Corsa was a top end '65-'66 model that could be had with either a 140 hp 4-carb motor or a 180 hp Turbocharged motor.

'67-'69 had only a Monza model as the top end model that was still available with the 140.

Tom Heath Web Manager
Sept. 13, 2011 1:12 p.m.

We're playing with one over at the Classic Motorsports site-

http://classicmotorsports.net/project-cars/1963-chevrolet-corvair-monza-spyder/

It's a Corsa, not a Monza, but the guts are all there. This project isn't quite on the front burner yet, but I'm told it's going to be getting more attention later this year after the Shelby is done.

1 2 3

You'll need to log in to post.

Also on Grassroots Motorsports

Your Projects: Wide-Body, V8-Powered Porsche 944

8 hours ago in News

Wing, flares, V8 swap and more!

You Need This: Eclipse!

8 hours ago in News

Today's special.

Your Projects: Boosted and Flared E30 BMW

10 hours ago in News

Another forum member put it best: “This build is absolutely mental. And I mean that in the best possible way.”

You Need This: 1990 Suzuki Carry 4WD Mini-Truck

11 hours ago in News

It looks cool, matches our cargo shorts, and makes little sense.

Concours d’Lemons: Showcasing the Best of the Worst and the Worst of the Best

12 hours ago in Articles

This year’s Concours d’Lemons celebrated two cars rarely associated with the glitz and glamor of Monterey.

You Need This: Gullwing Doors and Exotic Styling for Just $1500

14 hours ago in News

Meet some brown ’70s awesomeness.

Acura Unveils New Prototype Race Car in Monterey

2 days ago in News

Acura yesterday unveiled the new Acura ARX-05 prototype race car.

We're Back In Monterey for Car Week

3 days ago in News

And so it begins, another trip to Monterey Car Week.

Mark Your Calendars: August 18 Is Wear Your Helmet to Work Day

3 days ago in News

Wear your racing gear to work and win prizes.

You Need This: A Real 1LE Camaro

3 days ago in News

Chevy only built 62 1LE Camaros that year.

Little Car Show: Celebrating All Things Quirky and Small

4 days ago in Articles

As the name suggests, the Little Car Show is all about little cars.

Concours d’Lemons to Ruin Monterey Car Week Yet Again

4 days ago in News

What started as the anti-concours has transformed into a major event on the Monterey Car Week schedule.

OUR SPONSORS

Grassroots Motorsports Magazine

Subscribe Today

Also get your instant access to the digital edition of Grassroots Motorsports Magazine!

Learn More
2PYe4DDmJ4OvM4j2glW0y2MK5rNEbffY