The Turbocharged Corvair

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These days turbocharging seems to be very topical when discussing high performance car engines.

Why then does no one ever mention the turbocharged Corvair manufactured by Chevrolet during the 1960s. this car was reasonably successful. apart from pioneering the application of this method of forced induction on a relatively high volume production car at reasonable cost.

While living in Canada during the late ’60s I owned a 1965 model 700 series. This was the post Ralph Nader design and was fitted with Corvette type rear suspension. Apart from being much better looking than the first production models, which looked like overgrown NSU Prinz cars.

Fitted with Michelin X tyres these cars would run rings around most vehicles encountered on Canadian and US roads at this time. Road & Track published a road test which gave figures far the standard 180 h.p. 2.7-litre car. of 120 m.p.h. in 9.7 seconds. Not bad for a production car costing less than $4,000 in 1965!

Due to the high cost of engine manufacture, body detail and finish was not up to par, and as is so often the case with American cars the brakes did not match the performance.

Also, the cars reflected the rear engine layout by becoming nose light as the speed increased. This was cured to some degree on later cars by a factory-fitted nose spoiler. For $5,000 one could buy the highly developed “Yenko Stinger”, a real sports coupe which realised the car’s potential. Unfortunately the model never recovered from the adverse publicity given to the early cars. Stirling Moss notwithstanding! In four years I had very little trouble apart from alternator bearings and the torque shaft between clutch and differential shaft which was liable to twist itself into half. Instant starting, no cooling problems (air cooled), good fuel consumption and a wonderful kick in the back when the boost came in at 3,000 r.p.m. and continuing up to 6,00o r.p.m. at a modest 6 p.s.i.

With this car I collected my first speeding tickets after 14 years of driving!

Kempton Park, – M. E. C. W.ELLER
South Africa