Throwing caution to the wind and driving 1500 miles in a chevy corvair hagerty articles electricity deregulation


My ’65 Corvair Corsa served as my chariot, one (mostly) up to the task after many months of me procrastinating preparations. In the end I made a few improvements since the last time I took this Corvair on a long trip, including a fresh clutch between the four-speed and 140-horsepower six-cylinder. Next was a wheel and tire change, with the rear tires gaining a decent amount of overall height. The goal was to bring the engine revs down at highway speeds. A brake adjustment, shifter rebuild, and new ignition buoyed my confidence in an uneventful, zen-like journey. Weather in the way

Right on cue, a severe storm front was moving east as I reached the southern end of Michigan to turn the wheels west. Heavy rain. Lightning. Hail. And the Corsa was pointed straight at it. My goal became putting as many miles behind me as possible, so that once the storm settled in, I could seek shelter at a hotel and call it a night.

The roads were clear and the Corvair sucked down two tanks of gas without incident. Then, rain speckles dotted the windshield. I assumed the worst and hoped for the best in my planning for this trip, so I had packed a roll of tape to patch a known windshield leak but hoped it would prove unnecessary. All that time ensuring the ignition was wired correctly distracted me from the simple precaution of checking the weather forecast.

The rain stayed light and intermittent for a few hours before breaking to blue skies. It was a short-lived victory. Dark clouds menaced ahead, threatening to overpower my two-speed wipers. I just kept the pedal down and raced to the hotel as the sunset glow was swallowed by the tall thunderclouds. Thankfully I made it to a hotel just as a swift downpour swept through, letting me relax for the night and hope that the severe weather passed over. A new (drier) day

The morning started with a quick walk-around inspection of the car, followed by apologies under my breath as I pumped the throttle twice and spun the engine to life with the minimal exhaust angled towards the window of a first-floor room. The engine was still on high idle as I eased out of the parking lot and started down the highway. With hundreds of miles to cover, there was plenty of time for the engine to reach temperature.

The storm that was so unnerving 12 hours earlier was now a distant memory as the sun shone bright across wide pale blue skies. Nothing beats sunrise in the plains. Just an hour into the drive, I made the turn onto US-36, kicking off the most boring, corn-lined part of the route. I settled in knowing that the steering wheel would not need to turn more than five degrees for the foreseeable future. Missouri and Kansas dragged on until I hopped over to US-77 South in Marysville, Kansas.

The car was purring, roaring really, down the road. The engine was quite happy cruising at 65 mph and turning 2800 rpm, but once I ran into some local traffic, the car started making a nasty racket. A baffle I’d installed in the exhaust worked its way loose and instigated a horrific rattle at idle. It was almost as if I’d just thrown it all together just in time for this trip… Back to school