• Front in Junk Yard
  • View of rear as found in junk yard
  • Top as seen in junk yard
  • Lifting empty shell for trip to body shop
  • Empty shell in body shop
  • Finished and on the road
  • 1960 Corvair restored by Richard Widman
  • Rear of finished 1960 Corvair
  • New interior with seat belts
  • Front interior with bucket seats

This site documents the restoration process of the 1960 Chevrolet Corvair I purchased on January 20, 2007.

On December 1st, 2009 I took my first 20 mile drive in the car up to the lake and it was great (note the YouTube video to the right). It runs and handles very nicely. I was waiting on the license plates, but finally came to an agreement with the local registration office that since I had all the documents, I could put on the old plates until they could reconstruct the file. So I had new plates made to match the last ones issued back in 1986. In February 2012 I was finally able to get real plates, although due to an error in registration en 1960, where they left off the last 4 digits of the VIN number, I had to pay import duties again, since the plate did not match the paperwork.

History

I’ve had my eye on this car as it sat in the lot of a mechanic’s shop for something more than ten years, but no one would sell it. In 2006 it was taken away and I just located it and purchased it.  As you can see from the pictures, it was not very well maintained even before parking it in the shop.  According to the mechanic where it was left, “it ran fine, but had to be pushed to start”. 

From the start I expected the restoration to take a while. My original guess was 2 years. By the end, it had taken 2 ½.
According to various part numbers, this car was fabricated by General Motors specifically for export in the fourth week of March of 1960.  The engine was assembled on March 14, 1960. According to to the engine and head numbers, this was produced with low compression heads and a 95 hp cam to hold the valves open longer, compensating for the lower compression. Click here for details.

Officially, it was taken out of service and the license plates turned some time in 1990. I finally received my license plates and registration 5 years after purchasing it - two years after I started driving it.

As of the end of 2014, I've driven it close to 12,000 kilometers.

Here is a short video of my first drive.
For an introduction to the logistics and timeline projected, click here.
Some people have asked:  “Why a Corvair?”  “Why this car when it is in such bad shape”.  The answer lies in the fact that since I first rode in one in 1959, I have liked the styling and the engineering in this car.  I also wanted something unique, restored to what it was.  Add to that the challenge of figuring out its history, abuse, discovering the adaptations, and rebuilding it from the ground up.  I found myself with a nice project.

Some have suggested I could have imported one or two used ones to start from.  That is not possible since the law forbids the importation of cars older than 10 years (update December 2008: This was changed to 5 years).

In the process of restoring the trim, I wrote up the procedure. If you would like to download the instructions for restoring stainless steel and aluminum trim,
click here.

For those who came to this page directly and wish to see more of our activities protecting autos and machinery in Bolivia, or want calculators, oil charts or information on filters,
click here for the abbreviated English version of
Widman International S.R.L.
I haven’t gotten to spend as much time on this as I’d like as I have companies to run in two cities, but the car is now finished (there will always be little things) and I was driving it daily when it was in Tarija. It is interesting that as a 3 speed, it took the daily climb (twice a day) out of the valley and up into the city in 3rd gear. You will note the 600 ft increase in altitude. Now I have it in Santa Cruz.

This is the 600 foot climb through the mountains that I drive twice a day when I'm in Tarija. That is a 14 mile drive along with cattle, sheep and other animals on the road. Here is the profile of that climb from the town of Uriondo to the city of Tarija.
(Tap to enlarge)

Altitude change from the valley
I have recently added a page that consolidates some of the Before and After pictures. Click here to check it.

The latest addition was a set of pictures taken by the local newspaper for their automotive insert. Click here to see a few of them
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