Win an AMT 1969 Chevro­let Cor­vair

En­try to our prize com­pe­ti­tions is now on­line — en­ter at

New Zealand Classic Car - - Automobilia -

Out­side of clas­sic car cir­cles, the Cor­vair is best known for its in­clu­sion in Ralph Nader’s in­fa­mous book, Un­safe at Any Speed. Ap­par­ently Nader wasn’t too keen on the Cor­vair’s han­dling char­ac­ter­is­tics due to its rear swing axle. As he made no men­tion of other swing-axled cars then avail­able in the US from re­spected Euro­pean man­u­fac­tur­ers such as Porsche, Mercedes-benz, and Volk­swa­gen, some have spec­u­lated that Nader un­fairly sin­gled out the Cor­vair. More cyn­i­cal pun­dits sim­ply com­mented that most Amer­i­can driv­ers sim­ply weren’t up to the task of han­dling a mod­er­ately quick, rear-en­gined, swing-axlee­quipped car. Ei­ther way, Chevro­let con­tin­ued to de­velop the Cor­vair — the name com­ing via an amal­ga­ma­tion of ‘Corvette’ and ‘Bel Air’ — right un­til it ditched the model in 1969, that no­to­ri­ous rear swing axle hav­ing been dropped in 1965 with the se­cond-gen­er­a­tion mod­els. By the time the Monza ver­sion ap­peared in 1967, the Cor­vair was a com­pe­tent and quick sports coupé, but alas, with sales drop­ping quickly due to com­pe­ti­tion from cars such as the Ford Mus­tang and Chevro­let’s own Camaro, plans for a third-gen­er­a­tion Cor­vair were scrapped. The fi­nal Cor­vairs were vir­tu­ally hand built at a spe­cial pro­duc­tion fa­cil­ity, the last ex­am­ples be­ing con­structed in May 1969. Once again, we’re try­ing to keep our read­ers oc­cu­pied dur­ing the win­ter months, so we’ve got an­other kit for you to build. Of course, it’s a Chevro­let Cor­vair. This 1:25 kit from AMT al­lows the fi­nal model to be built in three

Early Chevro­let Cor­vairs were fit­ted with swing-axle in­de­pen­dent sus­pen­sion — a sys­tem that was first dreamed up by Ed­mund Rumpler, and his con­cept was once pop­u­lar, be­ing fit­ted to ev­ery­thing from ev­ery­day sa­loons to early su­per­cars — but can you iden­tify all th­ese swing axle–equipped ve­hi­cles?

The fac­tory did it with the MGB V8 — and, later, with the RV8 — so re­plac­ing the MGB’S stan­dard four­banger with a V8 has be­come a pop­u­lar swap amongst MG own­ers with a need for speed, and not too many qualms about main­tain­ing orig­i­nal­ity. Of course, like the fac­tory, the V8 of choice is the Buick/rover unit — an all-al­loy en­gine that is not only ca­pa­ble of dou­bling the power of the MGB’S 1.8-litre mill, but one that is also light enough not to af­fect the car’s over­all weight or, in­deed, the front-to-rear bal­ance.

Of course, a suc­cess­ful V8 con­ver­sion isn’t just a mat­ter of bung­ing a ben­teight into the en­gine bay — there’s also the ques­tion of up­rat­ing the brakes and sus­pen­sion to han­dle all that ex­tra power. Then there are aspects such as ex­haust sys­tems, car­bu­ret­tors, in­let man­i­folds, gear­boxes, dif­fer­en­tials, and over­all gear­ing to con­sider — not to men­tion aux­il­iary tasks such as rewiring or re­cal­i­brat­ing tachome­ters to match the re­place­ment en­gine.

In short, a V8 con­ver­sion is a ma­jor pro­ject, and Wil­liams’ com­pre­hen­sive book has long been re­garded as the bi­ble for those plan­ning to bolt one of Rover’s light-al­loy V8s into their MGB — the sim­ple fact that this is the fourth edi­tion of the book is am­ple proof of its con­tin­u­ing pop­u­lar­ity.

In ad­di­tion to pro­vid­ing com­pre­hen­sive in­for­ma­tion on the best way to han­dle a V8 swap, as well as those tasks at­ten­dant on such a con­ver­sion, Wil­liams writes well and with a sure touch — sur­pris­ingly for a tech­ni­cal trea­tise, this book is ex­tremely read­able.

Al­though writ­ten from a Amer­i­can point of view, the de­tails have world­wide ap­pli­ca­tions. Of in­ter­est will be the chap­ter on United King­dom re­quire­ments that in­cludes in­for­ma­tion on cars built us­ing a new Her­itage bodyshell, as well as a look at Uk-sourced parts.

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