NEW ZEALAND CLAS­SIC CAR READ­ERS WRITES Let­ters Flair for Cor­vair

MAIL:

New Zealand Classic Car - - Reader's Writes -

Read­ing your fea­ture ar­ti­cle on the Cor­vair ( NZ Clas­sic Car, Septem­ber 2015) brought back trea­sured mem­o­ries of my ex­pe­ri­ence with this unique sports car when I lived in Canada from 1968–’76. My friends and fel­low Ki­wis Ralph Magee and Keith Phare owned one or two of th­ese cars, as did my son Des, a col­lege stu­dent at the time. I re­mem­ber a cou­ple of mod­els with four carbs and one with a turbo. At the time, dune and street bug­gies were pop­u­lar with the younger set, so we de­cided to build our own.

I was a teacher and had had ex­pe­ri­ence modelling, while Ralph and Keith (saw fil­ers) had a me­chan­i­cal and en­gi­neer­ing back­ground. I de­signed the body shape and made the plug from plas­ter, and took a mould off it. We thought — if the pro­to­type turned out all right — we might make a few. But it was hard work, as I well re­mem­ber mak­ing the plas­ter plug in an un­heated garage in the middle of win­ter, with the plas­ter al­most chang­ing to ice! Any­way, we man­aged to pull off a mould and from it, laid up our first body.

Ralph did the me­chan­i­cal work of pre­par­ing the chas­sis and turbo en­gine, we even­tu­ally mar­ried that to the body, and from the first test drive, there were only a few ad­just­ments to do.

Keith was a fan of the Cor­vair too, and he de­cided to put an en­gine into a trike. He did the me­chan­i­cal work, and I de­signed and made the body from ply, and coated it with fi­bre­glass. It was quite a hand­some ma­chine, but full speed was re­stricted by the wind-catch­ing hood. Keith and his fi­ancée, Rosie Eck­stadt, went on their hon­ey­moon in that car.

This all hap­pened at Adams Lake, Bri­tish Columbia — a log-milling com­mu­nity near Salmon Arm on the Trans-canada. Ralph and Mau­reen (his wife) and Keith took the buggy and trike down to Seat­tle dur­ing the World Expo, and we met up with them there. They had no prob­lems on the tour.

Yes, in spite of Nader’s crit­i­cal com­ments on the Cor­vair’s ac­ci­dent rates, it was an ex­cit­ing and in­ter­est­ing con­cept, and fun to drive. As far as I know, the buggy and trike are still around — the pho­tos show the

Mag­for Street Buggy and the trike at the Adams Lake vil­lage, BC.

Mal­colm Ford, Whangarei

The Cor­vair turned out to be a pop­u­lar choice for cus­tomiz­ers — ob­vi­ously they were none too con­cerned about Ralph Nader’s dire warn­ings! AGW

Sounds like an in­ter­est­ing spe­cial, Chris — a Daim­ler with a Jaguar en­gine rather than a Jaguar with a Daim­ler en­gine. AGW

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