Thursday, March 15, 2007

Reinvigorating toast

Designed by George Watson, the “Glide” toaster “is designed to engage the user, re-invigorating the social context of toasting by questioning everything about what we toast with today.”

Glide’s toasting elements can adapt to toastables of differing thicknesses, so I can continue my unhealthy and socially isolating but oh so yummy toast lifestyle

Via Gizmondo

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The Vah-ster malks Farber

The Vah-ster malks Farber on the future of the Boeing factory floor. Brain the size of a planet, yo.

Check it, bleed: Vah-man on the ZD-Net homepage.

Jeezum crow, he sure do look and sound like a Rebassoo:

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Photo sans caption



I posted the Club Coupes story (previous) strictly for the purpose of being able to run this fan letter about it, as I seldom get anything other than hate mail. I love you too, Dave:

Name: David Forslund
Comments: To: David Traver Alolphus
I enjoyed your Club Coupes feature. My definition is a convertible body
with a sedan top. While Nash may have had the most coupes over the years,
the "younger generation" loved those Ford 5 window coupes of the 30's (for
hot rods) and the '40 to '48's painted black, lowered and leaded,w/fender
shirts, red rims, Cadillac hubcaps, white walls and twin spots. (Sometimes a
sunvisor added.) Of course the '49 & '50 Merc's either customized or James
Dean style caught everyone's eye. There were coupes (as you showed) and then
there were COUPES! There's enough here, to do another article. Hope you
are right and someday they will return! (Chev had a few during the same
period that were "lookers" but no V-8) -- a necker's knob on the steering
wheel was "standard operende."

You did miss 2 of the most unique, interesting and some say most beautiful
coupes of all time: Raymond Loewy's 1951 curved rear window Studebaker and
his 1953 Studebaker coupe.
Now that you have researched coupes, you should write a book. Costco and
BJ's would sell 5000 copies...each!





It’s all relative

If you think you know what a Club Coupe is, think again.

By David Traver Adolphus

When we were selecting cars for this special club coupes issue, we were going to include a 1955 Ford. The two-door Customline sure looked like a club coupe to us: The roofline took a dive over the rear passenger’s head, so the rear window sloped from the point where it began at the B-pillar. The rear window also began below the front door window line, and there was a space between the trunklid opening and the bottom of the C-pillar. Then Editor-in-Chief Richard Lentinello asked, “Ford had a club coupe in 1955? Really? Great!” His moment of hesitation made us go back and double check, and sure enough, Ford called it a Tudor sedan. (We’ll have that car next month.)

But was that Ford’s naming convention, or were they obeying a rule we didn’t know about? The ’54 was a club coupe (although the Mainline, on the same chassis, was a business coupe), so why were the ‘55s now called Tudor sedans? Yes, they were new designs, but the wheelbase was only different by half an inch. Even worse, while the Customline Six two-door was a Tudor Sedan, the new V-8 Fairlane (with a virtually identical base price) was a Club Sedan! After that, things called business coupes and club sedans stayed in the Ford lineup for years, but the club coupes disappeared until 1966.

We looked back over our archives for club coupes, and found only three driveReports: A ’42 De Soto; the ’42 Ford; and the ’49 Ford way back on the May-June 1971 issue of Special Interest Autos, which was no help whatsoever—both Fords were convertibles.

We were certain one of the Hemmings editorial staff, with our combined 740 years of experience, would have a definitive answer. We couldn’t have been more wrong: Some thought the roofline had to start descending at the B-pillar; others that the rear windows just couldn’t have a top edge that continued the curve of the front. One authoritative opinion was that the roof had to end ahead of the rear decklid, not at it. Someone said it was a non-hardtop coupe with a back seat larger than a regular coupe, but smaller than a two-door sedan. One Corvair fan said it was “a close-coupled two door with a full rear seat. I tend to think of them as having upmarket trim,” which made a nice contrast to the editor who said he thought of them as being on the “low end of the totem pole when it comes to equipment, trim and price.”

“I tend to think of club coupes as close-coupled four- or five-seaters, versus two door sedans with full rooflines,” said another. “Club coupes are akin to business coupes, but with a rear seat,” which was far more comprehensive than another description as “any two-door with a fixed roof, luggage compartment and back seats.” That, incidentally, just about matches the Classic Car Club of America’s description, “A two door closed car with a rear seat.”

We broke out the literature. The Standard Catalogues have a directory of body styles in the front, which, they preface with a warning that, “There was no ‘correct’ automotive meaning other than that brought about through actual use.” They go on to say that “the early postwar club coupe combined a shorter than sedan body structure with the convenience of a full back seat, unlike the single-seat business coupe,” but warn that “the distinction between two-door coupes and two-door sedans has grown fuzzy.” That’s not what the Society of Automotive Engineers would say, though—these days, anything with more than 33 cubic feet of rear seat volume is a sedan, anything less, a coupe. Clearly, that standard wasn’t in place for the enormous 1967 Chrysler Imperial hardtop two-door. And that standard’s a little from their earlier criteria. According to the Online Imperial Club, just after WWI the SAE defined a coupe as “an enclosed single compartment body with one fixed cross seat. This seat may be straight to accommodate two passengers, or staggered to accommodate three persons. The conventional body has two doors, and two movable glass windows on each side. The roof is permanent, and there is a luggage compartment at the rear.”

Surely the manufacturers knew what they were talking about? We looked at cars called Club Coupes, to see what they had in common. The earliest we ran across was in 1926; McLellan's Automotive History had a brochure for a ’26 Buick, and then there was the 1927 Chrysler 70. However, to our eyes Reo’s 1918 Model M four-passenger “enclosed roadster” and Packard’s 1918 four-passenger Twin Six both have the look…but not the name.

There was a common thread among these, and it’s well summed-up by the Online Imperial Club, which says a club coupe is a two-door shorter than a sedan, but with a full rear seat. We interpret this to mean that the passenger cabin is shorter (thus the notion that the roof should end short of the trunk), and not necessarily the wheelbase. So a two-door sedan has all the room of the four-door, and a club coupe only exists if there’s more than one coupe body style in a given lineup—there’s got to be a smaller coupe for the larger club coupe to exist, otherwise, it’s just another coupe.

The very first coupes were French, and they weren’t cars, either. Coupé (some designers still insist on the “koo-pay” pronounciation) is the French verb meaning “to cut,” and it was first applied to 19th Century carriages, where the rear-facing seats had been eliminated, or cut out. The “Club” portion is a little murkier, but the consensus seems to be that the notion arose from the sensation of being in the exclusive club car of a train: A semi-private lounge or parlor, accessible, yes, but you had to be special to get there.

They were special, too. Everyone agreed that Club Coupes are two-doors—and that they have style that sedans lack. The room that designers gave up in the cabin they got back on the rear decklid, and that meant the proportions were lower and longer than a sedan. Put them side-by-side, and you had the perfect in-between car, with plenty of room for passengers and two-door coolness.

With less weight (and especially less weight up high), they actually are sportier, too. Even the big ’52 Kaiser featured elsewhere in this issue manages to save 55 pounds over the sedan, and any racer will tell you that dropping two percent of a car’s weight is nothing to sneeze at.

Coupes of all kinds have fallen out of fashion today, as people look for a single vehicle that can do everything. But the pendulum of automotive fashion always swings back, and the next time it comes back to the coupe side, you can bet that the stylish, sporty, practical club coupes will come back with them.

SIDEBAR: The Hemmings Classic Car guide to coupes:


Any two-door other than a Two-Door Sedan, smaller than a related four-door in the same model line. If there is no sedan in that model’s lineup, the two-door is a coupe and cannot be a Two-Door Sedan. All two-door two-seaters with a solid roof are coupes. Many manufactures have referred to qualifying convertibles and retractable-roof cars as Convertible Coupes when the tops were up.

Hatchback Coupe

Any coupe with a luggage compartment contiguous with the passenger compartment and accessed via a large rear liftgate

Sports Coupe

Any coupe having no B-pillar, often a fastback; also called Hardtop Coupe, Two-Door Hardtop, Berlinetta, Berlinette

Business Coupe:

A two-door with a single row of seating and space between the seatback seat and the end of the passenger compartment, as for a salesman’s sample case

Opera Coupe:

A two-door with a single row of permanent seating and folding occasional or jump seats as the second row

Club Coupe:

A two-door with two rows of seating and a trunk, smaller than a sedan in the same lineup for comparison, generally having a fixed B-pillar, and a rear seat farther forward than in a comparable sedan. Also called Close-Coupled Coupe

Sedanet (Sedanette):

A fastback Club Coupe; also called Aero Coupe, may or may not be a Hatchback Coupe. Originally a sedan which resembled a Coupe

Two Door Sedan:

A two-door with two rows of seating, having the same or nearly the same room and seating configuration as a sedan in the same lineup, usually with a profile identical to a sedan. Also called Business Sedan (if lacking rear seat), Brougham (also applied to four-doors), Brougham Coupe, Coach, Club Sedan, Victoria (also applied to smaller coupes)

SIDEBAR: The Experts

Greg Wallace, Manager of GM’s Heritage Center and former manager for the Cadillac Historical Collection and Cadillac's archive:

“I have heard most of the names used to describe this fastback body style,” he said. “Sedanet, Aero Coupe, fastback etc.” Fastbacks? He included the Pontiac Streamliners, and we thought this was great, until he mentioned that Sedanet was actually the Buick name, not Cadillac. For Chevrolet, Fleetline was technically a body style and not a model, and Fisher Body manuals called fastback two-doors Aero Coupes—a name resurrected in 1986 and 1987 for the (Fisher-bodied) fastback Chevrolet Monte Carlo Aerocoupe.

“All of the Cadillac and Oldsmobile factory publications call out this body style as Club Coupe.”

Jack Carroll, designer, AMC:

“It’s one of those thing that if you ask ten people, you probably get ten different answers,” said Jack. “Typically, a Club is one that would have a turret top or a smaller top, as opposed to a two-door sedan. In most cases, in the design industry you would get a one-thirds, two-thirds proportion, where in a sedan you have essentially no trunk, and it’s basically 50/50: If you look at the length of the hood to the windshield, and the windshield to the backlight or the trunk, it’s almost split in half. Where the Club Coupe tends to be shorter, no back seat or minimal back seat, and basically, a shorter top so you get a sportier proportion to the car.”

He says that all of the Opera Coupes and Business Coupes could fall under the same umbrella, but that Club Coupes make up in the trunklid what they lose in the roof, “So you get a sportier look.”

Jerry Palmer, Executive Director of Design, General Motors North America, 1992-20XX:

Jerry says the 1930s Fords come to mind for him, and agrees with Jack Carroll that anything with room behind the seat is a Club Coupe. “They’re close coupled, with smaller greenhouses—less than a two-door sedan. They gave the total proportions of the vehicle a little shot in the arm.”

“I think that’s what could save GM—if we did a hot little coupe. Before I left, I wanted to do one, a Cavalier-sized two-door hardtop. I think there’s a hell of a market for that car. A tight little coupe.”

Stewart Reed, Chair of Transportation Design, Art Center College of Design:

Stewart asked for our definition first, and when we said we didn’t want to contaminate his ideas, he told us not to worry about it. “Boy, is that not on anybody’s radar right now,” he said. “It’s a coupe with a little different proportional ratio between the cabin and surrounding body. Strother McMinn, my esteemed colleague, used to talk about the Gary Cooper Duesenberg [SSJ LaGrande roadster]—the selfishness about it, with the tight interior and large body, which gave it that attitude.”

He told us that when he as at Chrysler Advanced Design in the 1970s, the “old-timers” felt that four doors were a stigma, and two-doors represented something a little more sporting, a little less practical. Eliminating as many pillars as possible was part of that philosophy, and designing “a selfish little coupé or roadster makes the car feel proportionally larger, makes it more imposing.” That meant that side glass got longer, and as the technology and philosophy of design changed, the very idea of the Club Coupe completely left the designers’ vocabulary.

David R. North, Chief Designer, General Motors North American Operations:

Although he was at GM in the 1950s, David still considers the Club Coupe name to be from well before his time. His take is that it was a name applied to a business coupe, “To give prestige to a car that the public thought was for business. They just wanted a more glamorous name for a body style, to broaden that market, make it something more elegant, as though you were going out to your club.” He mentions that the Corvair sedan solidly outsold the two-door until Bill Mitchell “dolled it up” to create the Monza, and he didn’t recall a designer ever referring to it as a Club Coupe. “It was probably more a marketing strategy.”

Heavy Hitter

You maybe remember the recent video of an English top speed test in an Evo, brought to a...screeching...halt by an errant seagull at 160kph?

Well, that ain't nothin'. I don't know who this Hungarian Boxster owner is, but I do know he was hauling ass when a feathery projectile inserted itself through the glass and deep into the upholstery. And from the look of the feathers, I'm going to say it was a chicken.

Related: Keith hits a deer

Via: A5


I can only hope that someday, Mark Mroz's '72 Polara CHP makes it into print. Cause it's, you know, awesome. I hate shooting things and then having them hang around forever.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Door opener

Yet another press release I didn't finish reading:

FANUC Robotics America, Inc. has received SsangYong Motor Company’s Supplier Appreciation Award for the development of an automated paint system installed in 2006.

Attached is a photo of a FANUC P-200E paint robot with a P-10E door opener.


Tedious Still Lives:

From Still lives


Look--he touched a baby!

From Late feb-mar

Spyker C12 Zagato

Victor Muller, CEO of Spyker Cars, and Andrea Zagato, CEO of Zagato, today unveiled the Spyker C12 Zagato at the 77th Geneva International MotorShow. Norihiko Harada, Zagato’s Automotive Chief Designer, and Muller co-operated closely to design this limited edition of 24 sports cars to be delivered from March 2008 onwards.

read more | digg story

Monday, March 5, 2007


Tedious Still Lives; "Stoolegs." This work is incomplete.

From Still lives

Sunday, March 4, 2007


I'm working on a series of tedious still lives, this is "Produce"

From Still lives

Saturday, March 3, 2007


The boy was born when it was 60 degrees in Vermont in January, it has since cooled down.

From Scum and frost

Friday, March 2, 2007

Me-n-the big shots

I got a nice letter today from Ken Gluckman, a DaimlerChrysler Associate General Counsel and vice president, who's been following my exclusive series on the Christie's Auto Union. His email followed by a matter of minutes an off-the-record conversation with Christie's...I'm feeling like a bigshot today:

I have been reading your blog for a while and have followed the story of the Auto Union car with great interest. Last year I was lucky enough to visit the Riga auto museum. While there I saw the original Auto Union racer, which I immediately recognized from the photos in the blog. I was told that this original car was sent to Audi some years ago and they helped restore it (and displayed it in their museum for a while). The original restored car was eventually returned to the museum, but while Audi had it, they made a copy, which is the vehicle now on display in their museum. I am attaching a photo of the car -- sorry it isn't better, but we weren't trying to document the car when we were there.

By the way, this is a fantastic little museum with some incredibly rare and interesting cars. It would be well worth an article in Hemmings Classic Car (which I subscribe to and read cover-to-cover every month). I have friends in Riga who would be happy to help arrange this -- let me know if you are interested.

I said:
The Riga car is yet another murky chapter in this whole episode, but there are a few things of which we feel confident:
--There is ONE known A U of any kind with GP racing history: The 1938/1939 Christie's car, chassis 19.
--The #21 chassis which actually did win the French GP, and which Christie's originally thought they had, is not accounted for.
--Prior to all this, Audi seems to have thought that their car was #19.
Whatever the 1938/1939 Riga car is, it's not a race car. Is it actually another real Type D? Maybe that would explain the provenance of the 1938/1939 car in Audi's possession, which should be a copy of that car, of which they said: "It’s “a reconstruction of mostly original parts...The chassis is actually original, but there is no exact number.” But if the car they have has always been a copy of the Riga car, why did they think it was a GP car?
So now I must wonder what Audi returned to Riga? Where did they get another original chassis without a serial number? It seems as though it would at this point be in Audi tradition's interest to issue a statement including the disposition of all known cars, but they aren't a very talkative bunch.
Anyway, I'll pass your offer along to Richard Lentinello and see what he says. I've long been aware of the museum and interested in its contents, but we haven't had a means of getting good photography.
Thanks for reading...I read The Firehouse, so right back 'atcha.

This is all on the heels of an offer to appear on the Discovery Channel about this car. I rule!

Thursday, March 1, 2007

From Muscle cars





2000 Cobra R

Insane and possibly illegal

The Cobra R came 30 years after the muscle car wars, and was worth the wait

By George Mattar & David Traver Adolphus

Photography by David Traver Adolphus

Did we feel a little stupid putting on a Schrath five-point harness to drive around on the street? Yes. Was it a good idea, even with seriously bolstered deep Recaro buckets? Umm…yeah. We’re as willing to stuff a car and our careers into a nearby ditch as the next guys, but we do try not to, and in the R, truly tragic things are only a careless ankle away.

Because we wanted the car nice and clean for photography, we had Steve perform some asphalt antics before we went for a drive. We should have known about the car’s character by then, as we originally met him at a track day on a road course. But come on—look at the thing. Going wicked fast around diminishing radius curves is just so Corvette. We needed smoke.

He tried to oblige us, he really did. We had a beautiful, big square of deserted concrete, and we told Steve, drop the hammer, kick out the back end and give us a power slide, we’ll shoot as your T/As make the world a warmer place.

Well, we were already accustomed to the sweet hell from the dual sides off the brick buildings in the back alley where we were set up, so the wail when he right-footed it didn’t catch us by surprise. The car did. He wound it up, let out the clutch and was just dead gone. Oh, you could hear the tires spin a little, not a shrieking dragstrip burnout, but a dry, nasty hiss. There was an electric red blur, and then we assume Scotty stepped in, because Steve had beamed to the other side of the lot. Try it again, we said. You’re not on the track, we told him. You don’t need an efficient start, just let ‘em break loose. We had him try from the other direction, slightly downhill to take a little weight of the rear end. He revved it up again, and the thing sat there, quivering, angry. He let it go.

When the wind died down, he was once again sitting at the other end. The car looked smug. This was not going to work, so we had him take it up to about 35 mph, and try to unsettle it with a quick left-right-left and some power oversteer. It went left, right, and left, accelerating all the way. This was not the Mustang we knew, not from the Fox-body era, not from the big-block days. This was something new.

In time, we refined his technique to something akin to drifting, finding that if you snapped it sideways on takeoff, you could dial in whatever angle you need, and hold it there. At least until the tires got fully warmed up…at which point we slithered in, strapped in, turned on and headed out.

It’s tempting to think of this as the spiritual successor to a 1960s Cobra. The stripper interior, a car dedicated entirely to the drivetrain, it all evokes something like the first lightweight CobraJets. But there’s so much modern car evolution inherent in the platform that the comparison isn’t fair. If you were deaf, you could drive the Cobra R around town every day. There’s no clearance to speak of, and the suspension travel has to be measured with calipers, but it’s so sophisticated you can actually drive over stuff without gritting your teeth. Steve’s roll cage stiffens an already taut car to an absurd degree. It’s like driving around in a bar of steel. A bump poings through the wheels, into the cabin, up into your head and out the roof. Strap in tightly enough and you feel like a structural member.

The cabin is deep, and black, but everything’s easy to reach. We didn’t notice the clutch being stiff while driving, but 45 minutes later, there were some left leg quivers. The Getrag six-speed is beautiful, the engine revvy and heel-and-toe a lead pipe cinch. We drove.

You know all about what isn’t in this car, the carpet, the A/C, the radio, the sound deadening. The A/C wouldn’t fit, and there was really no point to the rest of it. You could pour asphalt into the cabin until you smothered in it, and there would still be no secrets from underhood.

You really can tool around town if you have to, but at the comfortable low end of the band, between 2,100 and 2,400 rpm, there’s an incredible, cabin filling resonance. We could tolerate it for a while, but only because it sounded so wonderful. In fact, at any speed this is one of the top-two best sounding cars we’ve ever been in (the other contender is a big-block Monte Carlo with a two-and-a-half-inch stainless dual exhaust, HMM# 35). Lugging it, it’s a rumble that shivers the neighbor’s windows, and starts an involuntary twitch deep inside. When you start hitting the power at about 3,500, oh, the evil thoughts you start to think, and you leave a trail of broken hearts on the roadside. Full power hits just under 4,500, and you’d better pay attention, because while it was fun and games before, you are entering a territory here that will take you down hard if play games.

Heading toward the open road, we slink through town, and pass the local fuzz in a patrol car. He makes like an owl and swivels his head the moment we come in sight. As far as we can tell, he’s still pinned there now. You could tell, he just knew we must have been breaking the law somehow. It’s an excuse waiting to happen. We got thumbs up from rice rockets, codgers in Buicks, chicks in escorts. We saw a teen in a slammed VW Jetta slack-jawed, clearly mouthing to his girlfriend the words “Cobra R.” Yeah, we’re bad.

Finally, at the bottom of a long rise, we can we punch it and let it go. No turbo to spool up, no torque converter to suck up the twist. Nothing else legal or standing up is this much fun. There’s no question of getting traction, and no worries about breaking anything. There’s just your stomach flattening and cheeks rippling, banging off shifts like you mean it and a fresh shot of power deep in every gear. At 5,000 in fourth we’re heading for jail and let it back off, popping and burbling. We can’t stand it, do it again, again, again. Steve laughs his knowing laugh beside us, and when we ask him how he resists, just shrugs. The noises make it as good coming down as going up, and we find ourselves some curves.

Part of us is still out there, the part that learned something that day. We’ve driven the 400-plus horsepower legends of the 1960s, and not a single one of them was as uncompromising as the Cobra R. It never once blinked when looking it’s mission in the eye, it never once stumbled in power, handling or braking. It was a perfectly executed, full-on race car which, while in tribute to those that have gone before, sacrifices nothing. It is one of the greatest cars ever built in America.


January 2007

1964 Corvair Monza Spyder turbo restoration

Cake and eat it

Restoring a 1964 Corvair Monza Spyder to a concours standard and driving it, too

By David Traver Adolphus

Photography by Kim ________

If you’re a Corvair fan, you might recognize this car—it’s the 1964 Monza Spyder turbo club coupe on the cover of your October 2005 club publication, CORSA Communiqué. Posed on the brick pavers outside of Meadow Brook Hall, Rich Thompson’s car was the first Corvair ever to appear at the distinguished concours, where it won a coveted Lion Award.

If you are that Corvair aficionado, you may also recognize Rich Thompson’s name, as he’s the Corvair Society of America (CORSA) Central Division Director, and the club Concours chairman.

But Rich didn’t get his car into Meadowbrook Concours judging because he’s on the CORSA board of directors; this project predated those roles by years. Rich was motivated to prove to the world that he could—and should—produce a 1,000-point Corvair. (OK, 998 points, from the VCCA). “The main issue [was] that when I kept going to big Super Chevy meets, or the Chevy ‘Vette Fest out in Chicago, the amount of detail and time the 409 guys put in their Impalas or the Corvette guys put in their Vettes, made me say, ‘You can do the same thing with a Corvair.’ It’s a car, regardless of the make or model, and you can do that with this car. Especially this historically significant one: It’s a very rare model, that was completely loaded up to be a showroom model.”

Rich’s Corvair started life at his nlocal dealership in DePere, Wisconsin, and it had made it about 35 miles to Manitowoc when he found it. In fact, when he finished it, Rich ran into a former Broadway Chevrolet employee who remembered it from the showroom floor. The body was largely intact (although a $50 donor car provided a correct front decklid), but this former showroom model was missing almost all of its trim.

And there was more than a little trim. A ’64 Monza Spyder is rare enough (6,480 coupes), but there were 11 factory options listed on the original window sticker, and a further 14 from the dealer. Everything, in fact, but air conditioning—and A/C wasn’t available with the turbocharged engine.

Rich had previously restored a 1964 Monza convertible, and chemically stripped it of many thick layers of paint. “It was just a messy, miserable job,” he said, and when he discovered his Monza Spyder had only a single layer of finish “that looked like it had been applied with a fly sprayer,” Rich and his “partner in exterior paint,” Rick Nelson of Right Way Auto Body and Paint in Two Rivers, Wisconsin, decided to attack it with DA sanders. With a deadline to get it to Rick’s shop for bodywork looming, they started with 40-grade discs, “Which made quick work of some panels, especially where I didn’t have multiple layers of paint.” Rick himself used a 36-grade abrasive, and they were both very careful to back off when bare metal showed. Once they’d removed the bulk of the paint, Rich finished the sanding with small discs on an electric drill and 60- or 100-grade, and some hand-sanding. He also performed his own hammer and dolly work on minor dents before sending it to Rick for final bodywork.

The interior sports a number of painted metal panels, which from the factory were sprayed with a metal-etching paint directly on bare steel. Rich didn’t strip those to bare steel, but sanded them to a rough finish, and popped out a few minor dents.

He also had to take off the well-applied factory rubberized undercoating, a job he thinks required 35 hours on his back with a propane torch and an assortment of putty knives. The Corvair lacks real wheel wells, so the spray-on coating extends throughout the undersides of the fenders. Later, when the time came to replace it, Rich saids his secret weapon is 3M’s™ Underseal™ Rubberized Undercoating. It dries to a very hard finish, with the correct pebble finish and flat semi-gloss finish. “I’ve never found anything better than this. People can’t tell the difference.”

While the extensive option list makes the car unique, it proved to be a huge headache, as most of these items were damaged or missing. The Monza Spyder also displays quite a bit of brightwork not found on Corvairs 500s and 700s, with stainless steel drip rails and window moldings, and aluminum below the beltline, including rocker trim. The scarcity of this trim and the fact little if any is reproduced necessitated an extensive search, and restoration of those he had. “To try to find perfect parts was a fair bit of misery,” he said. Those that were available as reproductions, such as the upholstery kit and door panels, came from Clark's Corvair Parts, and most of the NOS parts came from Mike Squires of Davenport, Iowa.

Among the pieces Rich restored is the stainless trim. He purchased Eastwood’s Mini Anvil and Trim Hammer set, which includes a 3½ ounce trim hammer and 1½ pound anvil. “At the same time, I was making up small tools out of hardwood,” essentially sculpting a custom hammer and dolly for each individual dent in the metal. He thinks the metal itself is type 1.4016 or grade 430 stainless, a low-carbon ferritic metal that is able to be re-worked and will not re-harden.

After working over the dents to get them as flat as possible, he filed them down with a mill bastard file, then started removing metal with wet paper in 220-, then 320-grade, and 600-grade either wet or dry, depending on the dent. He then polished with a medium grade compound, followed by White Rouge Buff Compound. He did discover that a piece of trim that looked perfect indoors could show waves or other imperfections in daylight, so he ended up taking them back and forth to get them perfect. Once he was satisfied, he applied Flitz Paste metal polish, “Which gives it real brilliance.” For shows, he goes over it with Blue Magic metal polish, “My favorite for regular maintenance of stainless over time.”

Another of his options was Soft Ray tinted glass all around, found on a mere 7% of Corvairs, and most of those in the South. “If the car just had clear glass, it would still look good, “ he said. “But with it, it has this kind of stately quality. It’s fast, but it’s sophisticated.” So when he discovered his car had an incorrect clear backlight, he went out and found a correct tinted one. Unfortunately, the shallow angle of the window meant it was thoroughly roughed up, so he decided to attempt to restore the glass. After “a tremendous amount of homework,” he used Eastwood’s Glass Polishing Kit, which came with Rhodite polish and a thick buffing wheel. Rich put his glass on two sawhorses with a thick blanket and worked outdoors on cool days. “The danger is to go too far and create distortions,” he said. “The trick is to realize you’re not going to get rid of every scratch, but improve clarity.”

Working in small, eight-by-eight inch sections, he affixed the wheel mantle to an electric drill and, keeping the surface wet, was careful to move to a new section before he generated too much heat. He says this was by far the most time-consuming single job in the restoration, requiring around 100 hours for the backlight alone—more than 10 percent of the total time he invested in the restoration.

Restoring the transaxle of the rear-engine, rear-wheel-drive coupe was a much simpler job, and one Rich says was his favorite. While the four-speed didn’t require too much mechanical work, “It was incredibly filthy.” After cleaning, he washed it with POR-15 Metal-Ready™ surface preparation, then scrubbed it with a 3M pad. He sprayed it with a cast-iron paint from an aerosol can without primer, as he didn’t want to trap any more heat than absolutely necessary in a confined region of the car, in immediate proximity to the exhaust.

The car actually ran fairly well when he acquired it, but did have a 30-year coating of grime. “I spent tens of hours stripping the and refinishing the engine compartment to it’s original semi-gloss finish. If this was off the slightest in gloss, it would mean losing the CORSA Factory Stock Restored classification.”

With help from Corvair expert Jim Jimenez, Rich rebuilt the engine and suspension, and when the painted body shell returned from Rick Nelson, began to reassemble the car. The undercarriage received a coat of POR-15, then a semi-gloss black on the underside of the floor and Chassis Black on the suspension where appropriate, and then he got to work on the interior.

An original DuPont color chart in hand, he went to his local paint shop and had the correct Medium Red single stage lacquer interior paint mixed up in aerosol cans, one matte for the front and one in a glossier finish for the back. Over any dents, he used a skim coat of U-Pol’s Topstop Gold body filler, a very-fine grained two-stage polyester filler he says doesn’t leave any pinholes and sands well. The floors were finished in a correct red oxide, which is supposed to be visible around the carpets in several places.

In Mid-July of 2000, exactly one week shy of two years after he started, the Monza Spyder was complete. Thankfully, Rich puts on substantial mileage every year, while still keeping it in true #1 condition. “I get most of my ribbing at the Corvair conventions, because when people see the car they say, ‘You don’t drive this. No way.’ You could have the nicest little showpiece, you could roll it off a trailer and roll it back on, but I think that if the car’s not running right, it’s not worth it.”

To keep it in blue-ribbon contention, he changes the oil at least three times a year, and examines the undercarriage at least as often. “If I find something that’s a little out of line, I make sure that I either correct it, replace it or repair it. It’s intensive, especially when you’ve got other cars to look at, but if you’re going to maintain this car at that level, you have to keep on it. You can’t stay away from it.”

When not preparing for a concours, he’s willing to let it accumulate the trophies of driving. “I can go out and enjoy the car and not feel bad if I look under the hood and see some dust on the shrouds. I know that can be cleaned, but I don’t want to let it sit there.” When a major show is in the offing, he begins preparing it three or four months in advance. Rich credits CORSA with helping to make it all possible. “I think without CORSA, I would have been sunk, and it would have been overwhelming. I would have got out of the car. I didn’t know where to start.”

The 1964 Monza Spyder, although a powerful and nimble handler on the road, also had to had to contend with the introduction of Ford’s Mustang. Mustang, another small car with bucket seats and available four on the floor, came with more available horsepower than Monza Spyder at less cost, especially when well optioned. It was a tougher sell to an American public that understood a more conventional car, a lower price and a more traditional driving experience. The Monza Spyder came and went after one year and its new sibling, the Corsa, took its place. The Corsa series did not offer a turbocharged engine standard like the ’64 Monza Spyder.

Very few of these rare cars survive today. The ones that are left represent a milestone for the compact sport car. This is through radical engineering, style and performance. It marks a time in automotive history where the lines became blurred for a moment.”


My father had shown me a white ’64 coupe, when I think that I was about five years old. In our town of Stoughton, Massachusetts, there was one that was driving around. I think an older lady had bought it, and it leaked oil like you would not believe. And the reason I remember that car is that when it pulled up to a stop sign—and you were always behind it—it would leak profusely from the rear grille. And it just leaked…drip, drip, drip, drip, drip.

I was fascinated with this car that leaked. And I said, “Oh, what is that?” and my dad said, “Well, that’s a Corvair. Its engine’s in the back.” And I thought, “Wow! That is really something.” Now, I would see Beetles driving around Stoughton a lot, but they didn’t strike me as much as I saw this unique design, that was very compact, and I just thought that the lines were just fascinating.

I spent an enormous amount of time looking for the options and accessories that were correct for the car and that was exhausting. But the completed product is unlike most any Corvair I know of or have seen. Even though I get lots of compliments on the bodywork and the paint, especially where it is black, I look forward to doing a few non-black cars. They show every flaw. But you would be hard pressed to find one on this car.

It is the perfect color combination for this model and year. It has just about every available factory option and accessory possible and I have put an incredible amount of sweat equity into it. So the car and I are truly bonded. There is not a square inch of this car that I not touched or know what went into it. It is the muscle car of the early Corvairs but it has a very regal, almost stately look about it. It sounds tough when it starts up and when I am going down the road, it holds the road like no other car I have driven. It is an enthusiast-driving car. It has the most character of any car I have driven. And it has it in spades.

--Rich Thompson


I was certain this was a shopping list when I found it today at the four corners in the center of town.

It reads:

Insufficient exercise

My friend Andrew is certain it is one, possibly his. 'Always knew the Vermont Country Store had a wide selection, was unaware they had schadenfreude.

Tricky scoring

Hard to play, particularly if I attempt to score it for either of my two instruments, baritone horn or chanter.

406258694_e65219a08c_o.jpg (JPEG Image, 788x1080 pixels)

via Dark Roasted Blend