The annual SEMA Show encapsulates so many things we love about the car hobby. Heritage, innovation, and craftsmanship are all on display. Take Lonnie Gilbertson’s RareVair, which is headed to this year’s festivities in Las Vegas. It’s a 1965 Chevrolet Corvair Corsa, with a mid-mounted small-block LS, painted to match a unique piece of Chevy road-racing history.
A mid-engine Corvair is not a new idea, of course. Kelmark and Crown made kits, and there are no doubt countless DIY efforts. Gilbertson’s personal introduction to the Corvair happened when his brother bought a Corsa in the 1970s. “That’s when I kind of first became aware of what Corvairs were and I’ve always liked that body style,” he says. “So progress up to now, I was looking around for another project to build, and I thought I’m going to go for a Corvair.”
The inspiration for the car began with the Yenko Stinger. “With the style of that body, it just fit for the sports racer feel about it,” Gilbertson says. Combine that with a 1972 De Tomaso Pantera his shop restored a few years ago and, Gilbertson says, “I’ve always had a thing in the back of my mind about how a mid-engine V-8 car is just a lot of fun to drive. So that combined with the Yenko Stinger and my need for speed, I just thought, I gotta do this.
“After finding a suitable donor car, Gilbertson sourced an LS3 V-8 from a 2009 Corvette. For the gearbox, he went to the 930-generation Porsche 911 Turbo, given its reputation for strength and the fact that the earlier four-speeds have one of the shortest bellhousings. With the gears mounted behind the engine, that means more legroom. “I’m not a small guy,” says Gilbertson, “so I wanted passenger comfort
.”He went to Kennedy Engineered Products to mate the transaxle to the small-block. As for the engine, it had about 30,000 miles on it and looked new inside, so Gilbertson didn’t feel the need to change too much. A Comp Cams camshaft (and associated valvetrain parts) and a Holley Sniper intake are the only changes from stock. Still, he estimates it makes about 500 horsepower at the wheels. Not bad for a car that weighs only about 2800 pounds
Hagerty’s Marketplace Editor Colin Comer gives a deep dive on the ever-popular Shelby Mustang GT350. Not only does Colin detail the fastback Mustang’s origin story, but he also provides expert tips on buying, owning, and maintaining such a rare classic.
Serial number SFM5R538 is confirmed as one of just 34 “production” G.T.350R models built by Shelby American in 1965 for racing, which then became the winningest Shelby of any kind on record. All images courtesy of Mecum Auctions.
There are Mustangs, and then there are Shelby Mustangs. But even within that rarified subset of Ford’s pony car, there are special examples that stand out among the herd, such as the car pictured above: A 1965 Shelby G.T.350R that is almost certainly the winningest Shelby of any type ever created. It’s one of many vehicles of special distinction going up for sale during this year’s Monterey Car Week – simply known as either Monterey among vintage vehicle enthusiasts, or Pebble Beach due to the renowned concours d’elegance that anchors the festivities. This particular car will be presented to bidders by Wisconsin-based Mecum Auctions at the company’s usual Monterey location, at the Hyatt Regency Hotel and Spa – Del Monte Golf Course.
Like most early Shelby-built Mustangs, this one is known by its serial number, SFM5R538. Shelby American Automobile Club (SAAC) documents confirmed that its legacy began as an order from Shelby American to Ford Motor Company in March 1965. The basic Mustang’s construction commenced at the San Jose assembly line the following month. Delivered first to the Shelby team, it was assigned Work Order No. 17535, which converted the early pony into a G.T.350R, a process that stretched nearly six months
The conversion to race-ready B/Production trim meant this G.T.350R was equipped with an independent front suspension, with adjustable coil springs and front disc brakes, as well as a live-axle rear suspension with leaf springs. Cooling for the all-important brake system was achieved in part by a special fiberglass front body apron and rear ductwork. A set of American Racing magnesium Torq Thrust wheels allowed for the use of pavement-gripping, wider-than-stock competition tires. Additionally, the incorporation of plexiglass windows aided both safety and weight. Power was derived from a Hi-Po 289-cu.in. V-8 engine fitted with a special 715-cfm Holley four-barrel carburetor on a counter-accessory Cobra high-rise intake manifold. Completing the engine build were Tri-Y headers, an external oil cooler, and a high-capacity Ford radiator. Behind the engine sat a Borg-Warner T-10 four-speed manual transmission.
Catching even a glimpse of certain vintage vehicles instantly turns my head and makes me stop what I’m doing. While most are muscle cars, Buick’s personal/luxury 1963-’65 Rivieras have held that power over me as well. Though I still have yet to own one, my desire for doing so actually dates back to when I was a teenager living in northern New Jersey in the 1980s.
I guess you could say that the Riviera has been my dream car of the personal/luxury genre. My order of favorites within the first generation of the E-body Buick is the inverse of their production years—I prefer the ’65, then the ’64, followed by the ’63. I’ve long imagined piloting a Riviera on extended highway trips to exciting vacation destinations and arriving at large family gatherings in style, given the Buick’s stately appearance, smooth operation, and polished demeanor, as compared to some of the muscle cars I’ve owned, which are generally louder and targeted more towards performance than luxury.
From the fertile mind of GM styling chief Bill Mitchell and through the talents of designer Ned Nickles, this exquisitely rendered reaction to the four-seat Ford Thunderbird was initially developed as the XP-715 for Cadillac (and was referred to as the LaSalle II), but the division passed on it. It was then was awarded to Buick following a competition between the other divisions. Ever since the first time I saw a Riviera up close, I’ve admired its “knife-edged” exterior appearance.
Forward-jutting fenders implied motion, a formal roof instilled elegance, and large wheel openings showed off a generously sized 15-inch wheel/tire package with effective 12-inch brake drums (aluminum in front) behind it. The body’s proportions are just about perfect to my layman’s eye, and with a 117-inch wheelbase cruciform (X-type) frame and an overall length of about 208 inches, the Riviera was sized right to offer a more nimble driving experience than Buick’s larger and heavier luxury liners.
Do you remember Susie, the Little Blue Coupe? As the title hints, it was an animated short about a cute sporty car that flirted its way out of a dealership window and into the hands of its first, proud owner. During the 8-minute flick, produced by Walt Disney and originally released in June 1952 by RKO Radio Pictures, Susie‘s care eventually slipped, and her owner reluctantly sold the rough-running coupe. A cigar-chomping, gruff-looking chap became Susie‘s next owner, though his lackadaisical attitude eventually left her painfully disheveled in a cold and scary scrapyard. That is, until she was rescued by a young lad with a dream, a touch of know-how, and a boatload of ambition
.It’s pure coincidence, but the basic elements of Susie‘s thought-provoking yet lighthearted automotive tale parallel the real-life adventure of the 1965 Chrysler Newport two-door hardtop gracing these pages. This entry-level luxury car was sold new through a New Haven, Connecticut, dealership, after which it lived many years of pavement tranquility in nearby Branford. But, by the end of 1985, the Newport silently fell into a stagnant existence that left it in complete disrepair.
According to its current owner and Lee, Massachusetts, resident Tim Schaefer, who purchased the Newport in September 2012, “It was basically a parts car. It had weeds growing off the floor in the back. The grille areas at the top of the cowl were filled with decomposing leaves, sticks, and dirt — all of which held water that slowly leaked into the interior that, after a quick glance, you wouldn’t even want to get in. It was just roached beyond belief. The headliner was hanging out of it and there was a wheel thrown on the back seat wearing a rotted tire. Really, the car was just a mess, but I bought it. Somebody had to save it.
Just because the Falcon was a low-priced economy car, that didn’t mean that it wasn’t satisfying to own. Ford referred to the redesigned 1964 and 1965 editions as its “Total Performance” compact.
That philosophy also extended to the larger models and took into account styling, handling, roadability, acceleration, braking, efficiency, and more.Sure, a buyer could’ve gone the bare-bones route in 1964 and become a fuel-savings connoisseur by driving a base Falcon two-door or four-door sedan, featuring the standard beige cloth-and-vinyl interior (more colors for 1965) with a full-width front seat, rubber floor mats, and 144-cu.in. straight-six (170-cu.in. for 1965).
Yet, with the 1964 and 1965 Falcon lineups providing avenues for boosting image, power, and comfort, why stop there?Stepping up in price, the 1964 Futura two- and four-door sedans added full carpeting, chromed horn ring on the steering wheel, courtesy lights, rear armrests and ash trays, lighter, and upgraded color-keyed upholstery choices and exterior trim.
The 1964 Futura hardtop and convertible also had the full-width front seat, but the sport coupe and sport convertible came with buckets and a console. A Thunderbird floating rearview mirror was included, and the droptop had a larger 170-cu.in. straight-six and a power top.
On July 8, 1965, my Dad purchased a brand new 1965 Chevelle Malibu SS. This was his first new car purchased off the lot and, oddly, has been the only new car he has ever purchased. He paid $3,262.45 for the car.
He then married my Mom in November of that same year. This car was very special to my Dad and Mom and we have great pictures of their adventures.
Shortly after their honeymoon, my Mom became pregnant and my oldest brother was on the horizon. He was born in ’67 and soon after, Mom and Dad learned of twins coming. The discussion turned back to the two-door coupe, and my Mom and Dad decided to sell the Chevelle to accommodate the future family.
My Mom shared with us kids growing up that she saw Dad’s emotions only a few times. One of those times was the day he had to sell his Chevelle.
As it often happens, life throws a few curves at families. My Dad’s youngest brother Paul was killed in a car accident in 1970. This event, and a few others, changed my Mom and Dad’s lives and began to shape our family’s future in ways we had yet to understand.
By 1971, our family now had three boys and one girl. My Dad was working a solid career with a Minnesota-based company and had the typical Minnesota family.
My parents attended a Lowell Lundstrom religious crusade, and through the message they heard, they committed their lives to serving God daily and through ministry. In 1974, my Dad left his job and moved the family to Dallas, Texas to attend Bible college and become a full-time pastor. He arrived back in our hometown of Sunburg, Minnesota, in 1976, and pioneered Sunburg Community Bible Church.
Mustangs have always been quick, powerful cars, with the notable exceptions of the underperforming models the Ford Motor Company sold during the Malaise Era. Some of the best-handling ponies from the Blue Oval feature motorsport-inspired mods from a Texas chicken farmer, a man you have certainly heard of before.
Thanks to Carroll Shelby, the Shelby GT350 rolled out in 1965 to much critical acclaim from both casual buyers and racers alike. In addition to the go-faster upgrades under the skin, the Shelby GT350 refused to blend in with the herd from a visual standpoint as well. This fellow here may not be an original car, but had he lived, Carroll would have certainly given his blessing.
What you’re looking at is a clone with Emberglow paint, four-corner disc brakes with slotted-and-drilled rotors, as well as a 302 Cobra. In addition to more displacement than the K-Code Windsor of the Shelby GT350, the 5.0-liter blunderbuss also features a Vortec supercharging kit.