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An Ode To My Ideal Project Car

I’ve only been in the Automobile office for a few weeks now, but associate editor Sam Smith is already harping that I pick up a project car. That’s hard to do when you’re paid on an hourly basis, but I think I’ve found the ideal candidate: a Chevrolet Corvair.

Here’s where I risk getting lampooned: it’s not a slinky post-’65 coupe, but an early (think 1960-1962) sedan.; It’s certainly not even sporty like the Monza Turbo coupes; at best, the thing makes do with an 80-hp 2.3-liter air-cooled boxer-six and a two-speed slushbox.

It’s certainly nowhere close to a concours-ready car; the red paint is severely faded to a flat rose hue, while chrome pieces – including a few hubcaps and the front emblem – are scattered in the backseat.

But those cons don’t outweigh the positives – it is, after all, an early sedan that is remarkably solid.; I can’t seem to find any major oxidation outside of a bit of surface rust.; The body seems straight; there is a large dent in the front passenger door, but it looks easy enough to pull back out.; Even if it doesn’t, it’s a character flaw – for some reason, I love the way the car looks with flat paint and steel wheels.

Albeit dirty, the interior seems to be in great shape.; I didn’t see any major tears in the upholstery, and the vast majority of trim pieces look to be in their proper place.; Give me a few hours with some Armor-All and a scrubber, and I’d have it looking hospitable – if not inviting.

I’m also thinking it’s a much better choice of a project car than my other idea – a Citroen 2CV.; No, the Corvair doesn’t have the French quirk of the Deux Chevaux, but it is quirky enough to keep me interested.; I’d also argue having the support of a nation-wide Corvair community – not to mention a decent number of parts vendors – would make my life with the car much easier.; And while Nader may object, I’d reason the Corvair could be at least slightly safer than getting behind the wheel of a “Tin Snail.”

Sorry, Ralph; I think I’m picking the Corvair.; Now, if I only had the money….and if only it had a manual transaxle…

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