NEW ZEALAND CLASSIC CAR READERS WRITES Letters Flair for Corvair
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