Wednesday, May 22, 2013

HACOA Corvair Owner's Meet recalls the past

Many years ago, Vickie Ireland purchased a pea green ’60 Corvair sedan from the Hover Motor Company used car lot. It was all of $75, and really wasn’t much of a car. It had several problems, for which she brought it back to get help. One time, the steering wheel came off in her hand while she was driving it to lunch.  Young Jim Hover took a shining to the girl, and began leaving notes on the windshield of the Corvair as it was parked around Manitou Springs.  Eventually, Jim and Vickie would get married and have two kids—a result that I’m especially pleased with, because I was one of them.

I’ve told the story of how my folks met before here, but it seems appropriate again today after stumbling on the Heart of America Corvair Owner’s Association get-together in Kansas City, Kan.  There, parked in the corner, was a Corvair identical to my mom’s car—the very reason for my existence.  My mom always says she liked that little Corvair, but I doubt at the time she ever thought it would turn up in a car show.  And it was just one of several very nice little rear-engine Chevys at this informal event.

If there were ever a dazzling Corvair, this is it.  The owners brought this bright red ’65 Monza convertible down from Des Moines, and it was striking.  Silver interiors weren’t originally available in these, but this one had a perfect, factory-looking silver interior that was sewn from ’65 Riviera vinyl.  The chrome IROC Camaro wheels gave the exterior just a little more zing.  When it comes to slightly modified Corvairs, they just don’t get much better than this.

This Monza coupe was also quite stunning.  I think these Corvair coupes like this have some of the best looking tops ever grafted onto a car—just look at those lines.  The bright blue interior didn’t hurt either.  This looks like a nice, cool environment to spend the afternoon.  Of course, air conditioning would be nice, but that icy blue, airy cockpit might trick you into thinking its cooler than it really is.

Corvairs are more than just cars.  There was also a pickup and a Mystery Machine-themed van at the show while I was there.   The panel van was known as the Corvan 95, the passenger van was called the Greenbrier Sportvan, and the pickups were called the Loadside or Rampside, depending on whether or not they had the big fold-down side ramp. Yeah, they were a little strange and underpowered, but they had a tremendous amount of room in the back, and continue to have sort of a cult following to this day.
We actually were trying to go to the Basehor Boys car show, but we ended up getting there too late.  On our way home, we stumbled upon this event by accident.  Unfortunately, they were also wrapping things up, so I know we missed out on some cars that had been there earlier.  I’m still glad that we got to see what we got to see, though.  And you can see them too.  Check out the slideshow below, or click this link for a nicer version.

Also, if you would like to read my history of the Corvair, click this link.


  1. At one time there was several Corvair owners here in KC who use to Solo Race their cars in local autocrosses. Another local owner had a Yenko Stinger and he raced in SCCA all over the Midwest with it. I was a member of SCCA and it was where I saw the other side of what a Corvair could really do and caused me to have a whole new respect for the little car Nadar grew to hate. We had a lot of fun back in the 70's parking lot racing, something you don't see much of these days.

    1. I remember them. They rented the track out and did an event when I worked at Lakeside Speedway in the 1990s. It seems like one of them caught the wall, though.

  2. What a pleasant surprise and I'm sorry i didn't get the chance to meet you on Saturday. HACOA is still very strong in KC and the surrounding areas. In the past 15 years the events have become more social, as you experienced, than race oriented but there still is a group of us that enjoy running them around any track we can find. There are many still in the club that would remember and participated in the race events mentioned above. Thank you for stopping by the event and for the kind words in your blog.

  3. Thank you for the story. I you are intrested we are having a June meeting in the park you can email me back and ride over with us. We are the ones that own the 60.

  4. As I remember, 'Corvair Charlie' Clark was from KC, and may well be the SCCA racer superdave remembers. Charlie was a terror in D Production before the SCCA ruined amateur road racing, then switched to Solo I and II after his car was effectively left w/o a place to race. He also printed up a bunch of stickers with the red circle and line going thru 'nick craw' [the then scca pres who fouled things up]of which i still have a couple proudly displayed in mt garage and on the bulletin board in my office.

  5. Yes Charlie who was the person I was talking about. Have many fond memories of racing back in the days with many Corvair owners here in KC.

  6. What's not to like about the Corvair ? Yes, mine resulted in marriage, two kids and two grandkids. Not a bad investment for $75 bucks !