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|Road Trip: Seattle, Washington to Temecula, California in a 44-Year-Old Corvair|
|Written by Rich Truesdell|
|Monday, 03 August 2009 04:19|
An unexpected opportunity leads to a 1500-mile road trip in a newly purchased 1965 Chevrolet Corvair Corsa.
First off, to the many visitors to this website, which now measures close to 50,000 unique visitors each month, I need to explain why there have been fewer posts each week than had been customary. First, a month ago, I was selected to be the launch editor of a brand new magazine coming this fall from Amos Automotive, Chevy Enthusiast. This will be a monthly magazine that unlike others currently on the market, will cover all Chevys, from the first to the very latest, not just Tri-Fives, Corvettes, Camaros, and Chevelles.
Being given the chance by Amos Automotive to launch a magazine was quite frankly, something that I didn't expect. Every month an automotive print magazine seems to fail as a result of the advertising downturn and competition from the Internet to reach readers. I thought that such an opportunity might never come my way but But Amos Automotive, who also publishes Cars and Parts, Musclecar Enthusiast, Mustang Enthusiast, Corvette Enthusiast, Mopar Enthusiast, and Pontiac Enthusiast felt otherwise. Unlike other publishers Amos Automotive offers free digital versions of the current issue of each magazine as well as archived isues going back up to three years, depending on the title.
Getting back to Chevy Enthusiast, as I currently don't a Chevrolet, I thought it would be a good idea if I did something to change that state of affairs, partially explaining the purchase of the car you see here, a 92,000-mile 1965 Chevy Corsa.
When it came to buying a Chevy I knew a couple of things; it would need to be relatively inexpensive (read cheap), and that it would be somewhat out of the Camaro, Corvette, Chevelle, Tri-Five (1955-1957) mainstream. It's not that any of these cars are bad, but to find a driver-quality car would be out of my modest budget and quite frankly, I wanted something unique and unusual that would be in keeping with my odd ball AMC personality and that pointed in just one direction...Corvair. Because I have always thought that with the exception of the 1963-1965 Buick Riviera, the second-generation 1965-1969 Corvairs were among the best-styled GM cars of the sixties, the Corvair was the obvious choice. A quick look at the Corvair completed auctions on eBay led me to this particular 1965 Corvair Corsa up the Washington state, a car that looked great but inexplicably garnered no bids at what I thought was a very reasonable $4,250.
I contacted the seller who told me the car was owned by a local Corvair mechanic an enthusiast, Steve McDaniel who was killed last October after stopping to help a stranded motorist and was struck by a number of drivers. I didn't go into the details of the accident but through his good friend Steve Wren, I learned that he was loved by everyone in the Puget Sound Corvair community. He was the go-to guy when anyone needed their Corvair fixed, or even for advice to solve a Corvair-related problem. Steve was handling the sale for his wife Amy and after an exchange of photos and several phone calls, I made a bid, Steve and Amy countered, and I became the new owner of Steve's legacy. I was so confident that I made the right decision that I bought a one-way ticket to Seattle and flew up to Washington where Saturday afternoon, Steve picked me up at Sea-Tac and after a few complications relating to the title, the Corvair was mine.
But that's only the start of the adventure as there was a weekend of orphan car activities planned, including a car show on Sunday (look for a more detailed report and images soon on Automotive Traveler) at the nation's last remaining XXX Root Beer drive-in in Issaquah, Washington. I decided that rather than start home on Sunday, I'd stick around and attend the show, especially given that more 30 Corvairs, mine included, were pre-registered for the event. I figured that it would be a good opportunity to introduce myself to the Corvair community and tell them the news about the lunch of Chevy Enthusiast this fall. What I didn't totally expect was the outpouring of support from the other Corvair owners, many of whom knew and spoke very highly of Steve McDaniel and his abilities to solve any Corvair problem, as well as the opportunity check out some truly wonderful orphan cars, including the very last "Squarebird" (the first four passenger 1958-1960 T-Birds) ever built.
After grabbing car-to-car photos of more than 15 Corvairs of all vintages (Andy Clark's Yenko Corvair Tribute shown), I was invited by one of the members, Kent Sullivan, to visit his multi-bay "man cave" and check out his Corvair collection. Kent offered to put my Corvair up on his lift where he and Steve Wren proceeded to give my Corvair a complete examination. All three of us were amazed at the condition of the underside of the car where we found absolutely no rust. Steve McDaniel obviously took great care of his car--it was his daily driver--and Steve Wren tightened up the lower control arm on the driver's side. When they were done I took off for Snohomish where I photographed the Squarebird for a future magazine feature and then headed south for the 1,500-mile trip home with stops in San Francisco to photograph a Ford Ranchero and Reno to connect with the D&P Classic Chevy Yenko Camaro Tribute that was built for this season's Chop Cut Rebuild TV show that I documented for Musclecar Enthusiast. (Chop Cut Rebuild is on the Speed Channel so you can check your local listings to see my comments on the build through its 13-episode run.)
It's now Monday morning and I'm writing this from the quaint and vintage Seven West Motel just off of Interstate 5 in Castle Rock, Washington in the shadows of Mount St. Helens. I drove last night as far south as I could and just about midnight, I decided that I could go no further safely and pulled in. After checking out the rooms and confirming they had high-speed Internet I put in for the night after a very uneventful drive south. Now it's up and at 'em as I head south for tonight's shoot of the Ranchero. Look for more details on the trip...and the Corvair here in the days to come.