LETTERS We hear from you

GOT SOME­THING TO SAY? NEED TO EX­PRESS AN OPIN­ION ON THE CLAS­SIC PORSCHE WORLD? WELL, HERE’S YOUR CHANCE…

Classic Porsche - - Contents -

CORVAIR v PORSCHE

I just re­ceived my copy of Clas­sic Porsche is­sue #46 and was leaf­ing through it when I saw the ʻAl­ter­na­tive Viewsʼ ar­ti­cle by Keith Seume/jan-hen­rik Müche that was a com­par­i­son of a Porsche 356 B con­vert­ible and a Corvair Monza con­vert­ible. Nor­mally, I read my is­sue of Clas­sic Porsche from front to back and do not jump around the ar­ti­cles. But, be­cause I am a Corvair en­thu­si­ast as well as a clas­sic Porsche en­thu­si­ast, I had to im­me­di­ately read the ar­ti­cle. I thor­oughly en­joyed it and found it to fairly ex­press the pros and cons of the Corvair.

As orig­i­nally de­signed, the Corvair was in­tended to to an ʻe­conoʼ car with­out any pre­tense or as­pi­ra­tions to be­ing a sports car. That quickly changed when car tuners such as John Fitch, Bill Corey, and Bill Thomas be­gan build­ing com­pe­ti­tion Cor­vairs and sell­ing speed equip­ment: four-carb con­ver­sions, springs, shocks, sway bars, and (like the 356B) a rear cam­ber com­pen­sator spring to help re­duce rear wheel tuck un­der.

Gen­eral Mo­tors got on the band­wagon and be­gan to im­prove the Corvair, first with sus­pen­sion up­grades, in­clud­ing a front anti-sway bar, then in 1962 a tur­bocharged Spy­der. In 1964 the swing-axle early model re­ceived a com­pen­sator spring as part of the rear sus­pen­sion up­grade. The 1965 and later rear sus­pen­sion de­sign came di­rectly from the Chevro­let Corvette.

One thing the ar­ti­cle did­nʼt men­tion, how­ever, was the im­pact of the Ford Mus­tang. Ford in­tro­duced the Mus­tang in mid-1964 and promptly sold more than a quar­ter mil­lion ve­hi­cles that sum­mer – far sur­pass­ing the sale of Cor­vairs.

It was the front-en­gine Mus­tang, a more Amer­i­can-tra­di­tional car than the rear-en­gine Corvair, that was the ma­jor cause of the demise of the Corvair. The Mus­tang was cheap to build – ba­si­cally a Fal­con with re­ally nice body­work – and could use a va­ri­ety of cor­po­rate en­gines: straight-sixes and V8s. (In con­trast the unique Corvair en­gine was ex­pen­sive to build and was not shared with other di­vi­sions in the GM em­pire.) To re­spond to Ford, Chevro­let started the de­sign of the Ca­maro, a Nova with a more stylish body.

As for Ralph Nader, his book might have ac­tu­ally pro­longed the life of the Corvair. The Corvair was orig­i­nally slated to end pro­duc­tion in 1967, when the first Ca­maros started rolling off the assem­bly lines. Gen­eral Mo­tors did not want Nader to have the last word and so con­tin­ued pro­duc­tion from 1967 through 1969, when the last 6000 Cor­vairs were vir­tu­ally hand-built on a makeshift assem­bly line (the orig­i­nal Corvair assem­bly line be­ing given over to an­other GM model).

Rightly or wrongly, peo­ple would com­pare the Porsche and Corvair. This is un­fair to both cars. Each was de­signed to meet dif­fer­ent cri­te­ria and each was suc­cess­ful to vary­ing de­grees. The Porsche 356 was an al­most pure sports car de­signed and ex­e­cuted to pro­vide ex­hil­a­rat­ing per­for­mance. The Corvair was an econo car that mor­phed into an in­ex­pen­sive sporty car and, per­haps, laid the ground­work for the ʻponyʼ cars that fol­lowed.

For the record: I have a 1966 912, a 1964 Corvair Spy­der (project car), and a 1962 Corvair Monza four-door. Keep up your ex­cel­lent magazine. Joe White, Boul­der, Colorado, USA

RSR 0894 – THEMISSING LINKS…

I very much en­joyed this ar­ti­cle by Johnny Ti­pler on the 2.8 RSR in is­sue #45 and Iʼm glad to see that Eu­gen Kiemele is still around and healthy. Johnny wrote that vir­tu­ally noth­ing was known about what hap­pened to 0894 from the end of 1973, when Kiemele traded it in at Strahleʼs deal­er­ship up to when it went to Ray­mod Touroul. I think I can help.

To­gether with my French Porsche author­ity friend Philippe Rafesthian, we looked into this and found that 0894 had been, ap­par­ently, crashed in 1974. By whom, we donʼt know at present. After this, it was sold to Jean-louis Chateau, a gifted French am­a­teur driver. Philippe was able to check this by speak­ing di­rectly with Chateau, who re­paired 0894 in 1974 and then achieved the fol­low­ing: 1974: Crashed. Sold to Man­fred Freisinger, Ger­many 1974: Sold to Jean-louis Chateau, France. Car up­rated to 1974 spec RSR 3.0-litre en­gine. Orig­i­nal en­gine sold to Ray­mond Touroul, France(?) 1974: Painted white 01/05: Magny-cours; 5th 19/05: Croix-en Ter­nois; 1st 09/06: Chartre; 1st 21/07: Croix en Ter­nois; 1st 08/09: Croix en Ter­nois; 1st 22/09: Montl­héry AGACI; 2nd ??/10: Montl­héry; 3rd (Noted as a Group 3 Car­rera) 27/10: Croix en Ter­nois: 3rd ??/??: Montl­héry; 4th ??/??: Montl­héry ACIF; 4th 1975: Painted Metal­lic Pink ??/03: Montl­héry; 2nd 03/04: Croix en Ter­nois; 1st 20/04: Montl­héry; 1st 25/05: Montl­héry; 1st 22/06: Cler­mont Fer­rand; 1st 20/07: Croix en Ter­noise; DNF 28/09: Monza 6 Hours; 2nd ??/??: Nog­aro Paques; 1st 1976: Re-painted Black 12–13/06: Le Mans 24 Hours: J-L Chateau/geurie/for­nage, #48; DNF 1977: 11–12/06: Le Mans 24 Hours: #84; DNS John Starkey, via E-mail

“JEAN-LOUIS CHATEAU RE­PAIRED 0894 IN 1974…”

Keith Seume replies: Thanks, John, for fill­ing in the blanks – 0894 has cer­tainly led a full life, and it’s great to see it back to orig­i­nal spec to­day. Cer­tainly Eu­gen Kiemele seemed pleased with the re­sult…

The 2.8 RSR we fea­tured in is­sue #45 was re­painted and re­built sev­eral times, ap­pear­ing like this at Le Mans in 1976, driven by Chateau/geurie/for­nage

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