Bob Brownell '66 Corvair
It's hard to ignore a mid-engine small-block Chevy Corvair. To fullyappreciate the effort that went into this example of homebuilt carcrafting, you have to look closely. Bob has owned this Illinois cruiserfor almost 30 years. Originally powered by a 455 Olds Toronadoconversion, Bob admits the first version's handling was "suicidal." Thatled to the small-block conversion in the late '70s that he resurrectedin the late '90s.
Bob knows from experience to slip the clutch and walk his Corvair off the line at the drag
Aggressive pads cost Bob tire-smoking lockup that lengthened hisstopping distance. Bob fee
Crawl under either end of the Corvair and you're greeted with a completecustom fabricated
Bob's Corvair is very much a personal statement that has changed littlefrom its '70s origin, and that cost him valuable subjective points. Whenthe rains washed out our autocross event, that probably was to theCorvair's disadvantage given its excellent rear weight bias. A closerlook at the points spread indicates just how close the competition wassince Bob's finish was a fractional 1.6 points out of Fifth and a mere13 points away from Fourth. Regardless of its place in the contest, theCorvair is worthy of praise for no other reason than it will never beconfused with any other car that's ever competed in Real Street.
Only one car in the RSE had anautomatic, and it went 9s.
On the road, the Corvair rides well, but that small-block in thebackseat limits legroom an
What: '66 mid-engine small-block Corvair
Owner: Bob Brownell, Crystal Lake, IL
Chassis: A custom rear subframe and engine-cradle assembly mount theiron small-block Chevy while retaining the Corvair four-speed andtransaxle. The chassis is incredibly stiff and at 2,900 pounds, offersup a 40/60 front/ rear weight distribution.
Front Suspension: Homebuilt and designed coilover strut system using350-lb/in Carrera springs and QA1 adjustable shocks. The custom 1-inchantiroll bar is tied to Bob's own custom-machined spindles with rod endsfor steering. Bob cut down a Flaming River rack-and-pinion to fit alongwith a modified ididit steering column.
Bob did all his own engineering on this mid-engined 383-powered swap.There's amazingly lit
Rear Suspension: An original Corvair IRS centersection and acustom-design 12-link system suspended with Carrera springs, QA1adjustable shocks, and a modified Speedway 1-inch rear antiroll bar
Brakes: Large 13-inch Coleman rotors with Wilwood calipers put the whoato all four corners.
Engine: An iron 350 Chevy block, built to a 383 using a Scat crank andSRP 10.0:1 pistons. The cam is a Crane hydraulic roller with 236/244degrees at 0.050 with 0.538/0.551-inch lift on the intake and exhaust.Airflow Research 195 heads work 2.02/1.60-inch valves and use Craneshaft-mount 1.6:1 roller rockers. The Edelbrock Performer RPM Air Gapintake works with a 780-cfm Holley to feed the intake side. Schoenfeld15/8-inch headers feed into a custom 3-inch exhaust with DynoMaxmufflers. Bob says it makes 500 hp.
Transaxle: Power feeds through a blueprinted Saginaw Corvair four-speedinto a Crown Engineering input and mainshaft that feeds the Corvairrear-axle portion with a billet carrier, and 3.08:1 gears that have beencryogenically stress relieved. The shafts are custom built but maintainthe stock 1310 U-joints that have to take the abuse of torque multipliedthree times by the rear gear.
Body: Externally, the body is virtually stock and still sports its 1975Jerry Lins paint job.
Interior: A custom carbon-fiber cover was molded by Five Star Stock CarBodies. Bob also designed and built the quick-release seat mounts thatmake engine maintenance much easier. The Corvair still sports a completesound system that Bob puts to much use with several road trips over thepast few years including a complete Hot Rod Power Tour(TM) jaunt in 2004that amassed 3,000 road miles.
Wheels/Tires: American 200S 17x81/2 on the front with 235/40R17Yokohamas with 17x91/2-inch Americans on the rear with larger 275/40R17Yokohama skins
|'66 Corvair Performance Data|
Only one RSE car was less than 15 yearsold. The oldest was just shy of 40.
RSE Craftsmanship/Ride-and-Drive/ Braking/Quarter-Mile
This year we went for a heads-up-style points system for the all theevents to get participants to go for it on the first pass rather than anaverage of all three. This also eliminated the problem of someonefailing to make three passes and still getting points. If you did notstart you received zero points, if you did not finish you received 50.The only person with a DNF was Stephan in his 'Vette when he broke ahalfshaft on the dragstrip. The ride-and-drive consisted of anevaluation of each car by each editor who scored the car on a scale of 1to 10 in 10 different categories for engineering and craftsmanship and 1to 25 in each of the four ride-and-drive divisions. Each score was thenadded and averaged into a final score out of 100. The winner of thebraking and drag event each received 100 points and each subsequentposition received 10 points less. The total score for each car was outof 400 total points.
Norwalk Raceway Park
It's tough to find a suitable venue to hold a multifaceted event likethe RSE without spending on a NASA-style budget. After several months oftrying, we finally thought to call on Norwalk Raceway Park in Norwalk,Ohio. This is a family owned and operated track, but it doesn't give theimpression of being small-time. The facilities are top notch and thegrounds are impeccably manicured. For example, the crew told us they'dprep the track, and we would have been happy with a few squirts of VHT,but what we got was 1,320 feet of flypaper. The result was severalpersonal-best e.t.'s and one broken half-shaft. You should check themout: Norwalk Raceway Park, Norwalk, OH; 419/668-5555;norwalkraceway.com.