Modifications

When I started this project I had to consider what I wanted in a finished car. There are lots of ways to go. Some people want a pure stock “trailer queen” that looks like it rolled off the assembly line yesterday, all parts being original “NOS” or something like that.

I wanted a reliable period car that was comfortable and drivable for daily commutes or trips and cruises. I also did not really have access to a lot of original parts. The term “original” for the 1960 model year varies, since there were many running changes from month to month during the that first year of production.

Everything that I restored I sandblasted before painting. I used plenty of paint, undercoating and soundproofing as well as bushings to create quiet ride.

This page sums up the basic changes or modifications I made to what would have been stock when my car came off the assembly line in late march of 1960. I am grateful to many members of the Corvair community and the Corvair Center for many ideas, suggestions, encouragement, and parts.

The details of my work over 30 months of part-time work are in the rest of the pages of this site.

Click pictures to enlarge

Exterior
Comparison of original and new paint

Paint: The original Tasco Turqoise would have been hard to come by so I chose a color that in some light is exact. In other light it changes considerably. The Chrysler Medium Aqua Metallic has much smaller metallic particles and many more of them, both aluminum and titanium, giving it nice tones in different light. For the top instead of the original plain white, I chose a bright white with a mist of pearl over it. Purists will notice that I chose to separate the colors at the base of the windshield post instead of the top.
Modified rear for grill and exhaust
Body: the body is completely stock except for the rear grill. I could not find one from a 1960 and a friend gave me the 61. Since I had to redo the entire lower rear, it was no problem to make the corner fit and turn the exhaust out the side like the 1961. If I had thought about it in time, I would have built the back-up lights into the lower panel next to the grill.

Floor pans were replaced with donor steel from crashed cars. I added 3 coats of undercoating to them and the interior of the door skins.
Sanding stainless steel trim
The stainless steel belt trim and roof trim is a combination of original pieces and used pieces that I brought from the Corvair Ranch and straightened, sanded and polished. The aluminum trim and bezels are all original. I restored each piece. Click here for details of the process.
Wheels: My original wheels were bent and not matching. I increased the size to 14”, compensating with the radial tires to give me the same original diameter. The wheel design I selected from the local market.

Exterior mirrors: The car originally had no outside mirrors. I used a pair of 1961 mirrors.
Interior
Front seats, doors, dash
I wanted comfort and convenience. This meant replacing the front bench seat with bucket seats from a Toyota and a center console made with Toyota and Nissan parts with storage and electrical outlets. I also have an outlet under the dash.

I reupholstered the Toyota seats with local materials, matching the rebuilt original rear fold-down seat and the home made door panels and Monza series arm rests. I also got a set of sun visors and upholstered them to match. The Chevrolet emblem embroidery was not stock. That was my idea, as was putting the “Corvair 700” script between the rear speakers.
Rear seating and shoulder belts
The headliner is made with local materials and covers a layer of fiberglass insulation for sound and heat. The rear view mirror is a chrome day/night one from a Monza.

I’ve used seat belts since I first installed them in 1961 in the family Chevy, so that was a must. I installed retracting shoulder belts from a Nissan in the front and Ford E350 lap belts in the rear. Seat belt hardware covers are made locally from fiberglass.

I covered the steering wheel with cork and leather, then took it to my local leather tanner to stain it to match the paint.
Carpet and padding
The floor is covered with a layer of eDead sound deadening material, ½ inch of foam padding and a layer of local carpeting, with matching carpet floor mats, embroidered with gold Chevrolet emblems.
Speaker enclosure
For music I added an mp3/CD player, making a bezel to match the instrument panel and glove box. I built a speaker enclosure in the package tray that holds two 6”x9” speakers. I also added two 4” Sony speakers under the dash in the original location, separated from themselves and the rest of the interior by a styrofoam box cut from a 4” thick scrap.

The interior is separated from the engine by two layers of Dynamat hoodliner and a layer of eDead (sandwiching the firewall), plus the speaker enclosure.
Finished dash
For the dashboard I added a set of chrome knobs from a later year that includes the button for a windshield washer, which was not original. I got the small washer parts from a friend and used a Toyota pump. The horn button is from a Monza series car. I also added a chrome trim strip around the clusters instead of the original black rubber.
Engine and drive train
Finished engine compartment
I rebuilt the engine pretty close to stock, but it should be noted that this was was never a standard 80 hp engine. It was built by GM especially for export conditions.

I had to replace the cylinders (had VW jugs) and the replacements are 62 or later bored to 0.20, so pistons and rings had to match. I used the original 95 hp cam and kept the low compression export heads. Motor number T0314YA. Head numbers are 6257688 and 6257689.

The valves were Nissan, so I replaced them with real Corvair stainless steel and new springs and guides.

Bearings are 0.10 with a modified oversize thrust bearing to take up the slack.

I used new lifters with decent pushrods sent from a friend, and a combination of the best rockers I could find.

The carburetors were rebuilt by Steve Goodman of Rear Engine Specialists in Colorado.

The starter is locally rebuilt with a new Bendix drive and a local solenoid, new nose cone with a home made bearing to fit the worn starter armature.

The Flywheel is Dale Engineering bolted, with a matching pressure plate and a locally resurfaced clutch disc.

The transmission is a correct 1960 3 speed rebuilt by Fisher's Transmission Inc. in Wichita, Ks.

Old and new distrutors
The distributor is a rebuilt 62 series with a Pertronix electronic module and matching Pertronix Flame Thrower coil.

Spark plug wires are silicon.

I replaced the original generator (and mount) with an internally regulated alternator from a later series and replaced the mechanical fuel pump with an electrical pump at the tank, using a switch to turn it off if the oil pressure drops.

I added the aftermarket oil filter adapter so that I could use locally available oil filters.

The fuel sending unit is from a 56 Chevy, bent and shortened to match the design of the 60 sending unit and calibrated to match the tank capacity.

Brake parts restored
The differential, steering, brakes, and suspension are rebuilt by me, using parts from a used front suspension that I brought from a junkyard in Tulsa, ok. The shock absorbers were purchased locally by size, but later replaced with originals for a softer ride.

The majority of the parts I purchased from Corvair Underground and Clark's Corvair Parts

Electrical
Relays and fuses
All wiring is new, fabricated for this car as I built it, since no wiring harness would include outlet wires to the dash and console, relays for headlights and backup lights, a 1960 configuration with a later series internally regulated alternator, and a fuel pump at the tank controlled by the oil pressure switch, among other things.

Rear lighting and backup lights
Lighting: The headlights are halogen sealed beams, actuated by relays. This car originally did not have backup lights, but I added halogen driving lights as backup lights behind the rear grill, using all four normal lighting fixtures in the rear for headlight/brake light operation. All lenses are 1960. I also installed lighting in the trunk and engine compartment that comes on when opened. All tail, brake, and dash lights are LED from superbrightLEDS.com
Electrican outlets in rear of console

Each of the three interior electrical outlets is fused for 20 amps, giving me capacity to plug in my refrigerator, heaters, etc. for traveling.
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