1963 Corvair Meets Harley-Davidson – Result? Magic
The Chevy Corvair (and I know because my dad had one back in the day that I used to take for surreptitious midnight runs) was not a great car. It handled like a rowboat, was seriously underpowered for its weight and most of the model years were sort of unattractive.
The Corvair suffered under the burden of the worst kind of PR when its handling characteristics came under scrutiny from one Ralph Nader as part of his book Unsafe at Any Speed, a diatribe on the state of the car-building industry and safety concerns. It did come to pass that a later look from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found the Corvair’s handling was at least comparable to other models produced during that period.
But take the motor from a Corvair and, through force of will and engineering prowess, stuff it in a Harley-Davidson rolling chassis, and you have something, brother.
This one, which now has something like 16,000 miles of trouble-free operation in its wake, used a right angle drive from Browning straight off the shelf featuring spiral cut gears which operate with precious little noise compared to straight cut gears.
The builder used a rubber vulcanized half coupling from Browning to connect the gear box to the flywheel, and, if you’re the sort who’d like to take on such a project yourself, thoughtfully provides the part number for the coupling – CHCFR5H from Browning. The right angle gear box has a 1:1 ratio and the intrepid builder used industrial taper locks on the input and output shafts.
He used a belt drive from Gates industrial and sprockets to get the power to the rear wheel.
The engine was originally rated at a modest (for a car) 102 HP. After cleaning up the heads and the addition of a later model high performance cam, that jumped to something like 110 HP, and that means one thing – an abundance of torque.
An aftermarket electronic ignition replaced the old points and a pair of “ignitor” modules – mounted across from each other on the distributor plate but staggered so the timing is now 8 degrees different – fire the beast off.
And as an added bonus? This baby is an old-school kick-start ride.
The switch at the kick starter transfers between the two modules and made it start easy come to the proper advance settings after firing up.
According to the genius who built it, “It has been a simple trouble free setup.”
And a thing of beauty and a joy to behold as well…