Friday, December 4, 2009

CPotD #9 (The One That Started It All)

I have absolutely no childhood memories of Corvairs. No relative owned one. No neighbor drove one. No classmate cruised in one. There must have been a bunch of them on the roads of Fremont, California during the 70s, but none every made an impression on me. So how did I get bitten by the Corvair bug?

I like to blame my in-laws. Back in the mid-60s they owned a Corvair convertible; a 1963 Monza I believe. I don’t remember whether they asked or I offered (probably the latter), but I was to keep my eyes open for a Corvair for them. Since Loriann and I were living in California – one of the only states in the Union that’s been able to keep out the tin worm – we were in a better position to find a solid twenty year old car than they were living in upstate New York. Being an old-car guy, part of my daily ritual was perusing the Antique Car section of the San Jose Mercury classifieds. Ah, the days before the web when your news was delivered once a day on your doorstep in black-and-white instead of 24/7 on your laptop in full color; when you could only get old-car parts at a junkyard, swap meet, or through Hemming’s instead of eBay, RockAuto, or through an online forum. But I digress.

One Saturday morning in 1985 I came across an ad simply worded, “63 Corvair, low miles, $950” with a phone number. I called the seller and set up an appointment to inspect the car that day. Soon after I was parked behind a proverbial little-old-lady-drove-it- only-on-Sundays car; nearly all original with less than 30,000 miles on the odometer. The owner’s daughter relayed how her mom had bought the car new and only drove it when making weekly trips to visit her children in San Jose. Since her mom had recently been placed in a rest home, she was selling the car for her. I looked all over and couldn’t find anything wrong with it. I gave it a test drive around the neighborhood, and everything checked out. As soon as I got home, I was on the phone with Loriann’s parents. To make a long story less long, they passed on the car, but Loriann and I couldn’t.

After rebuilding the carbs, the car ran flawlessly. Twice during the decade we owned it, she was pressed into daily driver usage - once by Loriann and finally by me during the year before I sold her. This scan of a circa 1987 Poloroid shows her parked in front of our garage outside Pittsburg, PA. Next to her is my brother-in-law’s Nova he sold soon after. Now, twenty-five years later, we’re both still kicking ourselves for foolishly selling these cars.

In my case, the sale was precipitated by my foray into big-body Pontiacs, but that’s another story. I sold her to a guy from the tidewater area of Virginia who wanted a memorable birthday present for his dad. I don’t know if today’s CPotD is that same car, but it very well could be. I found this photo a few years ago, and all I remember is that it was part of a set shot by someone at a tidewater Virginia area car show. I’d be very surprised if that part of Virginia has more than one 1962 Twilight Turquoise 700 Club Coupe.

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