Own One Of These Horrible Trucks? Here’s How To Make It Great
Chevy’s Corvair pickup trucks were not regarded well when new. Both bad handling, with all of that cab weight on top of the front wheels, and limited power, did not resonate with 1960s commercial pickup needs. The Chevy Turbo-Air air-cooled flat-six was pretty anemic, too. Only 18,000 were made from 1961 to 1964. It was a victim of that “Corvair Curse.”
Why did Chevy offer a Corvair pickup in 1962?
If you wanted to go light on hauling and towing and wanted to keep it in the Chevy family, the Corvair 95 Rampside and Loadside Pickups kind of replaced the El Camino. It left the scene in 1960. And if you needed more cargo capacity and towing, then Chevy’s full-size pickups were where you went.
Moving ahead to the 21st century, these little haulers are very popular and collectible. With so few made, and fewer weathering the decades, they can go for some heavy coin. But there is still the power and weight distribution issue.
How did the Corvair Rampside pickup owner make his great?
One owner decided to fix those problems after purchasing his 1962 Corvair 95 Rampside out of Idaho. Alberta, Canada’s Wayne Dick had a slightly different idea about the motivation for his rusty Rampside. And where it would go. Whereas the stock Corvair engine was buried in the rear, just like the sedans, Dick stuck his 6.2-liter LS3 V8 behind the cab. Weight distribution is 50/50 now, with gobs of Corvette power.
“Rampy” now has 460 hp to 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 independent limited-slip rear end out of the same C5 Corvette. An AirRide air suspension gives Dick versatility the stock Rampside never has. The truck’s handling and power problems have now been solved.
Why have these Corvair Rampside pickups become so collectible?
For some unloved old vehicles, time somehow makes them desirable. It could be due to them being odd-looking, relative to what we have on the highways today. Think giant fins or 1960s 23-window VW Microbuses. Or maybe the oddness or quirkiness of the package adds interest. Think SAAB Sonnet or early rotary Mazdas. Whatever it is, we’d say the Rampsides have both of those categories covered.
And though the Rampside is mostly a footnote, the drama surrounding Ralph Nader’s “Unsafe at Any Speed” book, about the Corvair’s handling woes, surely adds points for collectors from a historical perspective. So there’s another reason why the Rampside is seeing renewed interest today.
Will the owner’s modifications kill the Rampside’s value
Is what Dick did to his Rampside going to turn on collectors? Probably not. But it does grab the attention of the resto-mod enthusiasts. Has what Dick did defeat the practicality of his Rampside. Most certainly, but who is going to use it for hauling these days? So while it probably is looked at with derision by some, it has probably attracted a much larger crowd of gearheads.
And he doesn’t care anyway, he likes to take it to the drags, and also twist it around tracks. He was recently at LS Fest, where he told Holley Performance he was going to fix the rust, make a few changes, and be back next year with a better-looking, better-sorted Rampy.