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1962 Chevrolet Corvair - Engine In The Front, Party In The Back

With LS1 Power and A Long Roof, MIke Meyers' Corvair Wagon Is Fast, Fun, And Practical.

Jim Campisano Mar 3, 2013
Mike Meyer Ls1 1962 Chevrolet Corvair Front Left 2/10

Bracket racer, highway cruiser, or show car. Mike Meyers’ LS1-powered Corvair is all this and more. It’s reliable, fast and gets outstanding fuel economy. As a bonus, in a sea of first-gen Camaros and ’70 Chevelles, it stands out as something completely different.

This isn’t the first Corvair Mike’s had in Super Chevy. A few years ago, we featured his white ’69, which sported Hugger Orange stripes and an LS1 in front of the driver. Like that car, this one’s got an LS1 where the trunk used to be.

Mike Meyer Ls1 1962 Chevrolet Corvair Right Rear 3/10

To say Mike’s got a thing for these cars is an understatement (he bought his first at 14 years of age) and has owned more of then than most people have ever seen. But he was attracted to this particular example because it was a wagon, a body style Chevrolet only produced for two years.

Because the Corvair uses a lot of factory parts in the powertrain, it has been a model of reliability. It’s also nearly 100-percent stock so if anything does go wrong, replacement parts are not too far away. The engine is out of a ’00 Pontiac Trans Am, meaning the all-aluminum 346 makes 305 hp. A set of shorty headers from Street & Performance exhale into Flowmaster mufflers. The radiator was pirated from an ’85 Camaro. The trans is a simple 4L60-E, with a 3,600 stall Precision converter, and it sends power to an ’87 Olds 4-4-2 81/2-inch rear with 3.73 gears.

Where Mike really deviated from the norm (aside from building a front-engine/fuel-injected Corvair) was the chassis. As a unibody car, the Corvair didn’t have a separate frame from the factory. Mike cut the Corvair’s subframe out and bolted the body to a full frame from a G-body, specifically an ’87 Buick Regal.

"It's not too tough [to do]," explained the owner. "I did this with my white car. That was my first attempt. This was easier. I cut the floorboard out and the frame lined right up there. The wheelbase on the G-body is advertised at 108.3 inches and the Corvair’s is 108. I used a plumb bob to center the wheelwells. It worked out real well."

Mike says he’s not the first person to discover this, but he figured it out around the same time as some Canadians. Imagine his shock when he arrived at a national Corvair meet with his '69 thinking he had something unique and there were two others there!

The first conversion happened by accident. He had bought an ’85 Monte Carlo for the engine and was parting out the rest. He figured the frame would be a quick sell since it’s what’s used for dirt modified classes in circle track racing. The more Mike looked, the more intrigued he became. Once he started measuring, he was shocked to discover its dimensions mirrored that of the Corvair.

“"he track and section width is the same. Measuring from weld to weld where the floorboard comes together, it fits like it was supposed to from the factory," Mike relates. "There's not 1/8 of an inch difference from side to side."

Mike Meyer Ls1 1962 Chevrolet Corvair Front Left Wheel 7/10

Bell Tech 2-inch drop spindles are employed in the front and springs are out of a Malibu. Monroe gas shocks control the undulations. In the rear, ’79 Malibu wagon springs are used with Monroe gas shocks. A rear sway bar from a Monte SS helps it launch at the strip and keep it flat in the corners. The front wheels are 14x6-inch Camaro Rallys wrapped in 185/65R14 Uniroyal Tiger Pages. The rear Rallys are custom 15x8s from Pete Paulsen’s House of Wheels. The have 6.5 inches of back-spacing and use 235/60R15 BFGoodrich drag radials.

The exterior is Surf Blue Effect, an ’09 Dodge SRT Challenger hue, with a bright white roof. Terry Fairless whipped the body into shape, then painted it. The front spoiler was created by Mike and Doug Smith. It’s built from 1/2-inch conduit frame and built off a third-gen Camaro core support.

The interior is custom work by the owner and some friends. The door panels are homemade and the stainless laminate was done by Doug Smith. Mike and Doug built the rollcage, while Kevin’s Upholstery (East Alton, Illinois) did the seats and headliner in blue vinyl. A Sony Xplod head unit keep Mike, wife Marsha and their family entertained on long trips.

When we met Mike and Marsha, it was after they’d driven the Corvair from Illinois to the Super Chevy Show in Memphis. While there, Mike ran our True Street class, then bracket raced it all weekend. When all was said and done, it averaged 20 mpg by the time they pulled back into their garage. Its best e.t. is 12.48 at 108. They also took it 1,400 miles on the Hot Rod Power Tour without any sort of mechanical malfunction.

With LS1 power and a long roof, Mike Meyers’ Corvair wagon is fast, fun, and practical.



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