It’s done. After seven years, plenty of money, and the able assistance of some local and national experts in Corvair restoration, my 1966 Chevy is done. Murphy’s Law applied many times, and many times the car resisted being rebuilt, but we did it.
Before 2014, I had been preparing to age out of the car hobby. But then I found the Corvair quite unexpectedly. It was my car—the very one I’d bought the day before going to Vietnam the second time, back in 1968. All the experiences I’d had and memories I’d made in it mattered more to me than the vehicle itself. My wife agreed that I should buy it and rebuild it. (Love that woman!)
As of the last report, five things needed attention to complete the restoration.
1/ The speedometer cable that runs off the left front wheel needed to be reattached. That was easy.
2/ After we got the engine running, we discovered the cylinder-head-temperature gauge didn’t work. The original thermistors have long since been out of production, and finding a working replacement was a formidable task.
3/ The stalk that controls the driver’s-side mirror needed to be replaced. Originally, that stalk had a Chevrolet bow tie on it. Corvair guru Duane Wentland found one; it was rechromed, and it’s on.
4/ The mirror-adjustment cables have plastic stops, which had deteriorated over the past 50 years. No replacements were available. But Duane had one, which he loaned to drivetrain builder Rex Johnson. Rex’s daughter had recently purchased a 3-D printer. We carefully measured the part and had the printer fabricate a new one. Installed, it works just fine.
5/ The engine ran ragged at highway speed. The four carburetors needed to be adjusted to run properly. Rex bought an air-fuel meter, which he inserted into the exhaust, and he drove the car a few miles. Turns out, it was running lean, not rich as I had suspected. After calibrating the carbs to the correct air-fuel mixture, all four work properly and the car drives beautifully.
Nothing is finished until the last detail is in place. Now it is exactly as it was.
I invite readers to check out the entire saga, which is documented on this site in considerable length with text and photos. It details how I bought the car in the first place, sold it to buy a Corvette, got it back after marrying the woman who bought it, sold it again when the divorce was imminent and storage was an issue, then lost track of it. How I remained mildly curious about what had happened to it between 1978 and 2014, wondering whether it had been junked, maintained, restored, or left to rust away in a field somewhere. How a Craigslist ad posted on a North Dakota site got a response from a fellow in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota, who believed he had it. And how a scrap of paper in an old briefcase had the VIN, which confirmed it was the same car.