Do you own one of these horrible trucks? Here’s how to make it awesome
Chevy’s Corvair pickup trucks were not well regarded when new. Both mishandling, with all that cab weight over the front wheels and limited power, didn’t match the needs of commercial pickups of the 1960s. The air-cooled Chevy Turbo-Air flat-six was also fairly anemic. Only 18,000 were made from 1961 to 1964. It fell victim to this “curse of Corvair”.
Why did Chevrolet offer a Corvair pickup in 1962?
If you wanted to lighten up the hauling and towing and wanted to keep it in the Chevy family, the Corvair 95 Rampside and Loadside pickup trucks sort of replaced the El Camino. It left the scene in 1960. And if you needed more cargo and towing capacity, then Chevy’s full-size pickups were where you were going.
Moving into the 21st century, these little transporters are very popular and collectible. With so few parts made and less resistant to decades, they can opt for large parts. But there remains the problem of power and weight distribution.
How did the owner of the Corvair Rampside pickup come about?
One owner decided to fix these issues after buying his 1962 Corvair 95 Rampside in Idaho. Wayne Dick from Alberta, Canada had a slightly different idea of the motivation behind his Rusty Rampside. And where would it go. While the stock Corvair engine was buried in the back, just like the sedans, Dick stuck his 6.2-liter LS3 V8 behind the cabin. The weight distribution is 50/50 now, with masses of Corvette power.
“Rampy” now has 460 hp at the rear wheels, with a Brian Tooley Stage 3 cam and RPM Tuning electrics. The LS spins an upgraded 4L65E four-speed automatic transmission, with the same Corvette C5’s independent limited-slip rear end. An AirRide air suspension gives Dick versatility that Rampside never had. Truck handling and power issues are now resolved.
Why have these Corvair Rampside pickups become so collectible?
For some unloved old vehicles, time somehow makes them desirable. This could be due to their odd appearance, compared to what we have on the highways today. Think giant tailfins or 23-window VW microbuses from the 1960s. Or maybe the weirdness or quirkiness of the package adds interest. Think SAAB Sonnet or the first rotary Mazdas. Either way, we’d say the Rampsides cover both categories.
And while the Rampside is mostly a footnote, the drama surrounding Ralph Nader’s “Unsafe at Any Speed” book on Corvair handling issues surely adds points for collectors from a perspective historical. So there’s another reason why the Rampside is seeing renewed interest today.
Will owner modifications kill the value of the Rampside
Will what Dick did to his Rampside excite collectors? Probably not. But it is attracting the attention of resto-mod enthusiasts. What Dick did beat the practicality of his Rampside. Sure, but who’s going to use it for hauling these days? So, while it’s probably looked upon with derision by some, it likely attracted a much larger crowd of gearheads.
And he doesn’t care anyway, he likes to take it trolling, and also twist it around the tracks. He was recently at LS Fest, where he told Holley Performance he was going to fix the rust, make a few changes and come back next year with a better looking, better sorted Rampy.
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