Recommended Upgrades & Improvements

All Models and Years
Post Reply
ABTX Winter Texan
Posts: 17
Joined: Sun Feb 23, 2014 1:15 am
Location: Coaldale, Alberta (Summers) Mission, Texas ( Winters)

Recommended Upgrades & Improvements

Post by ABTX Winter Texan »

We have pretty much decided our choice for our first classic car, which will be used as our daily driver, will be a '65 or '66 Corvair Corsa convertible with 4 speed manual tranny. The car will be trailered behind a motorhome for our bi-annual migrations, Alberta to Texas in November and Texas to Alberta in April, as well as when touring from time to time whenever the travel bug bites.

We now have to work out a post purchase budget for modifications and upgrades to improve not only performance and appearance but also reliability and durability. As former racers and rallyists in our early years, we always subjected our daily drivers to performance and mild custom mods and see no reason not to follow that course with our classic Corvair.

Assuming our Corsa will be a "driver" when purchased, that would be classified as Hagerty Condition "3", near "2", or CORSA "Very Good", near "Fine", we would like some guidance for recommended improvements. While we have done some preliminary research on the subject, we are sure experienced Corvair owners and restorers can save us considerable time by suggesting what upgrades we should consider having done and by which specialists (we are past doing most of this type of work ourselves) for the following:

1. Engine
2. Exhaust
3. Tranny
4. Drive Train
5. Suspension
6. Brakes

We will also consider

7. Mild Custom Exterior and Interior Modifications
( e.g. Air dam, rear spoiler, leather sport recliner buckets and matching rear seat re-cover, sport steering wheel, etc. etc.)

Any and all input will be welcome.

Thanks

Gord
2005 Safari Trek 28RB2 Motorhome w/ 2014 Fiat 500c Abarth Cabrio "Toad"/Daily Driver
2014 JIMGLO Aluminum 17'+ Tilt Bed Car Trailer w/ Front Deck Extended 18in for Mobility Scooter
Looking for Nicely Restored Corvair Convertible, 140hp, 4 speed

User avatar
bbodie52
Corvair of the Month
Corvair of the Month
Posts: 9675
Joined: Mon Aug 06, 2012 12:33 pm
Location: Lake Chatuge Hayesville, NC
Contact:

Re: Recommended Upgrades & Improvements

Post by bbodie52 »

Image
:wave: You did not mention the engine configuration (4-carburetor 140 hp or 180 hp turbocharged). If a daily driver with reliability and decent performance is your goal, I would tend to opt for the normally-aspirated 140 hp configuration. I have been around Corvairs since I was eight years old when my parents purchased the first family Corvair — a 1961 Monza coupe. Half of our Corvairs have been Early Models (EM) including 1961-1963 model years. The other half were Late Model (LM), all 1965-1966 Corsas. Of these cars, two had turbochargers — a 1963 Spyder convertible in 1970 and a 1965 Corsa coupe in 1971. The turbos are fun, but somewhat temperamental and a little difficult to tune. They get relatively poor gas mileage and demand Premium fuel. That is why I tend to favor the 140 hp normally-aspirated engine. My current Corvair, which I purchased in 2012 as a daily driver for our 40th anniversary, is a 1966 Corsa convertible with a 140 hp engine:

Image

These two previously-owned 1965 Corsas were also 140 hp cars. The convertible was in my family since it was new, and the coupe was added in 1981.

Image

Image

Image

While serving in the Air Force my wife and I drove the above Corvairs all over the USA and in Germany for decades. We traveled from coast-to-coast several times in fully-loaded Corvairs during the hot summer months, and drove them in Germany during winter and summer seasons. The only significant mechanical failure I ever experienced with either car was rear wheel bearing failures. LM rear wheel bearings are sealed units assembled at the factory. They have no grease fittings and are somewhat difficult to overhaul. They tend to be neglected until they start to make noise. That was the scenario with both of my cars. One bearing failed in my coupe in Cheyenne, Wyoming during a 1981 cross country run from California to New Jersey, and the other failed in my convertible while we were living in Germany. I would say that is a pretty-good usage and reliability record. But obviously these classic cars are aging and reliability may become an increasing concern. I have heard that 140 hp large valve cylinder heads have demonstrated an increasing proclivity for developing loose valve seats and "dropping" valve seats. My current 1966 has a documented repair of a dropped valve seat before I owned it, but that is my only personal experience with such a problem.

If you purchase a 1965-66 Corsa and if there is no record of maintenance or repair of the rear wheel bearings, you might consider having them removed, dismantled and overhauled as a preemptive measure to help ensure reliability. (Clark's Corvair Parts offers professionally overhauled units on an exchange basis). It is possible that they are operating on almost 50-year old factory grease! (The universal joints in the halfshafts tend to be neglected too. Yours should be inspected, and if needed replaced with new universal joints that are fitted with grease fittings). As for the cylinder heads, there is no way to predict their failure, and no warning sign. If you pull the heads and have them overhauled, the installation of deep valve seats is considered to be the best long-duration repair, but it is a little expensive. This is what I will do if I ever pull the heads on my Corsa.

UPGRADES AND IMPROVEMENTS —

Here is my personal wish list...

WHEELS AND TIRES: I currently have 14" x 7" GM Rally wheels and Goodyear Eagle ST P195/70 R14 tires (front) and Goodyear Eagle ST P235/60 R14 tires (rear) on my car. I intend to replace them with 16" wheels and a set of all-season low profile performance radial tires — probably Continental ExtremeContact DWS 225/55ZR16 or an equivalent tire from Michelin. The following website discusses tire and wheel fitment on a Corvair...

:link: http://autoxer.skiblack.com/tires.html

BRAKES: Drum brakes are pretty good on LM Corvairs. While disc brakes are a possibility, I really don't see a reason to change from the stock drum brakes on a street machine if they are well-maintained. I would recommend flushing the brake fluid and replacing it with DOT 5 SILICONE brake fluid, as recommended by Clark's Corvair Parts. Old wheel cylinders, flexible brake lines, etc. should be inspected for signs of deterioration, and aging flexible brake lines should probably be replaced. An upgrade from a single to a dual master cylinder is recommended for safety reasons.

:link: http://autoxer.skiblack.com/brakes.html

ENGINE: Mechanically, the 140 hp engine is a pretty-solid design that has been proven over the years, with the possible exception of the aforementioned cylinder head valve seats. But I tend to see the dated carburetors and fuel system, and the ignition system as somewhat problematic and an area that can be improved upon for performance and reliability. I am planning the installation of a modern computer-controlled and sensor-based Electronic Fuel Injection (EFI) system, coupled with an associated Distributorless Ignition System (DIS). (A less-expensive alternative path is to retain properly maintained and tuned carburetors, and eliminate the points in the distributor and replace them with an electronic breakerless system. Clark's Corvair Parts offers a Crane Cams system with optical control, or a Pertronix system with magnetic sensor control). I will also probably choose an aftermarket dual "trombone" exhaust system offered by Clark's Corvair Parts. I feel that this EFI/DIS system will significantly reduce maintenance and tuning issues, and will improve efficiency, performance, and reliability.

Image
:link: http://corvair-efi.com/

CUSTOMIZING AND STYLING: The Corvair could benefit from some modern electronics, such as GPS, satellite radio, Bluetooth hands-free cellular interface, an improved sound system, etc. Cruise control and electronic intermittent windshield wipers are a possibility too. The mechanical clocks in the Corsa instrument panel often fail, and a modern quartz-based replacement is available. All of these features can be added with little impact on the classic style of the mid-sixties car. As for finish and interior styling ideas, I always thought this Monza convertible was particularly well-done by a restoration firm in San Antonio (the owner lives in Austin, Texas):

Image
:link: http://www.jefflilly.com/gallery/classi ... index.html
Image

I hope that these comments and suggestions have been useful. Good luck with your Corvair-related plans! :tu:
Brad Bodie
Lake Chatuge, North Carolina
Image 1966 Corvair Corsa Convertible

Scott V
Posts: 707
Joined: Wed Jun 30, 2010 2:31 am

Re: Recommended Upgrades & Improvements

Post by Scott V »

bbodie52 wrote: I tend to see the dated carburetors and fuel system, and the ignition system as somewhat problematic and an area that can be improved upon for performance and reliability. I am planning the installation of a modern computer-controlled and sensor-based Electronic Fuel Injection (EFI) system, coupled with an associated Distributorless Ignition System (DIS).
other efi/edis options
http://www.american-pi.com/corvair/html/EZ-EFI_Info.pdf
http://www.american-pi.com/corvair/html/EZ-EFI_Q-A.pdf
http://www.american-pi.com/corvair/html ... tion1.html

-Scott V.

ABTX Winter Texan
Posts: 17
Joined: Sun Feb 23, 2014 1:15 am
Location: Coaldale, Alberta (Summers) Mission, Texas ( Winters)

Re: Recommended Upgrades & Improvements

Post by ABTX Winter Texan »

Thanks Brad,

Valuable input and much appreciated.

As for the engine choice, we were leaning towards the 140 hp version and your comments will help us make that decision.

Much more revolves around this project, and to be considered, than just the Corvair and upgrades. At present we have a 2013 GMC Sierra 1500 CrewCab towing our 2013 25 ft Ultra Lite travel trailer and will have to sell and/or trade these for a 24- 26 ft Class C motorhome and a car trailer. We moved on the Sierra and TT after parking our 36 ft 5th wheel travel trailer permanently in TX, without giving thought to our long time plan of buying a classic car. Fortunately, both truck and trailer were "bought right" so the depreciation hits, while hurtful, won't be crippling.

So.. we will continue our Corvair research over the summer months and possibly look to purchasing in the fall when we head south for the winter. The truck & TT swap for a MH & car trailer can follow when the Corvair upgrades are completed and it is ready to become our daily driver. If necessary we can leave the Corvair in TX until we have the MH & trailer.

Thanks again

Gord
2005 Safari Trek 28RB2 Motorhome w/ 2014 Fiat 500c Abarth Cabrio "Toad"/Daily Driver
2014 JIMGLO Aluminum 17'+ Tilt Bed Car Trailer w/ Front Deck Extended 18in for Mobility Scooter
Looking for Nicely Restored Corvair Convertible, 140hp, 4 speed

ABTX Winter Texan
Posts: 17
Joined: Sun Feb 23, 2014 1:15 am
Location: Coaldale, Alberta (Summers) Mission, Texas ( Winters)

Re: Recommended Upgrades & Improvements

Post by ABTX Winter Texan »

Scott V wrote:
bbodie52 wrote: I tend to see the dated carburetors and fuel system, and the ignition system as somewhat problematic and an area that can be improved upon for performance and reliability. I am planning the installation of a modern computer-controlled and sensor-based Electronic Fuel Injection (EFI) system, coupled with an associated Distributorless Ignition System (DIS).
other efi/edis options
http://www.american-pi.com/corvair/html/EZ-EFI_Info.pdf
http://www.american-pi.com/corvair/html/EZ-EFI_Q-A.pdf
http://www.american-pi.com/corvair/html ... tion1.html

-Scott V.
Thanks Scott

Very interesting information. EFI was on our mods list and this is helpful.

Gord
2005 Safari Trek 28RB2 Motorhome w/ 2014 Fiat 500c Abarth Cabrio "Toad"/Daily Driver
2014 JIMGLO Aluminum 17'+ Tilt Bed Car Trailer w/ Front Deck Extended 18in for Mobility Scooter
Looking for Nicely Restored Corvair Convertible, 140hp, 4 speed

User avatar
terribleted
Posts: 3727
Joined: Sun Apr 18, 2010 2:36 pm
Location: Atlanta, GA
Contact:

Re: Recommended Upgrades & Improvements

Post by terribleted »

If you are to haul it on a trailer behind the motor home any transmission is ok. If you ever intended to flat tow it (tow bar) you would not want an automatic. The Corvair powerglide will turn the front pump when the wheels are turning resulting in trans wear and overheating issues up to and including including fire.

These cars are pretty darned reliable in stock form. Upgrading things is not really particularly necessary. I have driven them as true daily transport (20k miles or more per year) for many years without any issues particularly more troubling than any other average late model car. (Disclaimer: I have gone through every one of these driver Corvairs on purchase and rebuilt much of each car before putting them into daily service. Worn suspension replaced, brakes gone through, repairs of any issues found.) That being said there are 3 mods that none of my Corvairs have been or will be without. I always install a dual brake master cylinder conversion (much safer then most Corvairs single master cylinder), an electronic ignition (faster starts, no point readjustment every 3-5,000 miles for top tune), and a 63 or so amp internally regulated alternator, (To be sure there is enough power for todays tinker toys like GPS, nice stereo etc., and eliminates the external voltage regulator). I would steer away from highly custom one off mods like fuel injection simply for the ease of getting repair parts if there were to be a breakdown. Simple, tried and true mods that parts are easily obtained would be best particularly while traveling and in Canada. (For instance an electronic ignition conversion can easily be put back to points if need be to get down the road).
Corvair guy since 1982. I have personally restored at least 20 Vairs, many of them restored ground up.
Currently working full time repairing Corvairs and restoring old cars.
https://www.facebook.com/tedsautorestoration/

Located in Snellville, Georgia

ABTX Winter Texan
Posts: 17
Joined: Sun Feb 23, 2014 1:15 am
Location: Coaldale, Alberta (Summers) Mission, Texas ( Winters)

Re: Recommended Upgrades & Improvements

Post by ABTX Winter Texan »

terribleted wrote:If you are to haul it on a trailer behind the motor home any transmission is ok. If you ever intended to flat tow it (tow bar) you would not want an automatic. The Corvair powerglide will turn the front pump when the wheels are turning resulting in trans wear and overheating issues up to and including including fire.
In our past life we competed together in Regional, National and International rallies (now known as "rally racing" in the USA) and always towed our rally cars on trailers as we had to be sure we could get it home if not towable "4 down" after the event was over. Having motorhomes for our tow and support vehicles we also used our daily drivers as "toweds" for thousand of miles on a tow bar when vacationing . Comparing those experiences, we would not consider towing a Corvair "4 down".

That said, we would also not consider an automatic tranny in anything smaller than a pickup or van.

Thanks for the input

Gord
2005 Safari Trek 28RB2 Motorhome w/ 2014 Fiat 500c Abarth Cabrio "Toad"/Daily Driver
2014 JIMGLO Aluminum 17'+ Tilt Bed Car Trailer w/ Front Deck Extended 18in for Mobility Scooter
Looking for Nicely Restored Corvair Convertible, 140hp, 4 speed

User avatar
MonzaDave
Posts: 157
Joined: Sat Jan 02, 2010 6:42 pm
Location: Rochester, Minnesota

Re: Recommended Upgrades & Improvements

Post by MonzaDave »

Here is a link to the mods I made to my '65 Corvair: https://www.facebook.com/corvairgt" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Dave Keillor
Rochester, MN

ABTX Winter Texan
Posts: 17
Joined: Sun Feb 23, 2014 1:15 am
Location: Coaldale, Alberta (Summers) Mission, Texas ( Winters)

Re: Recommended Upgrades & Improvements

Post by ABTX Winter Texan »

MonzaDave wrote:Here is a link to the mods I made to my '65 Corvair: https://www.facebook.com/corvairgt
Thanks Dave,

I have now copied your entire Big Red face book page into a document and saved all for future reference when planning mods to our Corvair. Due to age and physical limitations we're no longer able to do most of this type of work ourselves so starting out by buying a previously restored car and just having most of the desired additional upgrades and modifications done by professionals is the way to go for us. It is remarkable how many of our preliminary concepts have been carried out in your restomod and your photos will, without doubt, save a lot of time and avoid misunderstandings when describing what we want to the relative professionals doing the work.

Many thanks again

Gord
2005 Safari Trek 28RB2 Motorhome w/ 2014 Fiat 500c Abarth Cabrio "Toad"/Daily Driver
2014 JIMGLO Aluminum 17'+ Tilt Bed Car Trailer w/ Front Deck Extended 18in for Mobility Scooter
Looking for Nicely Restored Corvair Convertible, 140hp, 4 speed

Post Reply

Return to “Ask your Mechanical Questions here”