We’ve been reminiscing about the great cars we’ve seen recently at the Carmel Artomobilia. Being Corvette lovers, we were totally floored to see a replica of a 1954 Motorama Chevy Corvair gleaming in the sunlight. AMIG’s Rick Drewry talks with Mike, this beautiful car’s lucky owner and what it took to re-create this allusive sports car.
In 1954, Chevy introduces the Corvair, a concept car based on the 1953 Corvette, at the GM Motorama in New York City. This traveling exhibition featured current and potential models from the carmaker. Slumping Corvette sales would scuttle this version of the Corvair, which never makes it into production. GM orders all prototypes to be destroyed.
No blueprints exist. No spare parts are available. Classic car buffs have had to satisfy themselves with building replicas, following photographs to get the look accurate. That’s exactly what Mike and his friend, Brett, do when they set out to build the ’54 Corvair. Three and half years later, the results are stunning. “It is the car of my dreams,” Mike says while keeping a watchful eye over the car. “It only has 3.4 miles on it!”
Mike’s car started out with a Corvette frame. The two rebuilt much of the body using plasma and water jets to cut the exterior pieces they needed. They stayed true to the original and captured the Corvair signature look with its fastback roof, wraparound windshield and an aircraft-inspired rear end. Mike did replace the engine with a 265 V8 and decided to re-do the one-color interior with a two-toned red and beige colorway, keeping the stitching and pattern the same as original.
Mike and Brett completed the car just in time for the 2015 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance. Organizers asked them to keep it under wraps until the unveiling because they knew it was going to create a lot of buzz. The Corvair took home the Corporate Award for being among the top 10 out of the 300 cars invited. It also garnered the Best New Coachwork Award.
Mike’s Corvair is the realization of a dream. It is the car he always said he wanted, and building it with his friend Brett took it to another level. “Working on the car yourself makes all the difference. The car means more to you.” As many gearheads will attest, restoration isn’t just a project, it’s a passion, one that brings a lifetime of reward.