The Chevy Corvair will most likely be remembered by history as the star of Ralph Nader’s “Unsafe At Any Speed,” a book that blew open the doors on unsafe automobiles. But for those that drove the Corvair, many remember a nimble, lightweight, mid-engine sports car that was efficient, fun…and if you had the skills, could be powered by a small-block Chevy.
While trolling YouTube, we came across this video of a particular clean and cool Corvair CorV8 conversion. Packing a rare aluminum-block 283 Chevy V8, this class Corvair goes like stink, and looks damn good doing it. Owned by one Paul Siano, this ridiculously quick and cool Corvair has been fitted with the Crown CorV8 kit, which first appeared on the market in the late 1960s.
This kit included most of the parts needed to install a Chevy small-block into the engine bay of a Corvair. Siano went one step further and shoved a rare, aluminum-block 283 up in there, complete with mechanical fuel injection. Although not available currently, this kit was installed using the late, ’60s era conversion and used parts (mostly), which were available at that time. This also meant no 5-speed transmission either.
Testing for the top speed was set with a redline at 6,500 rpm, which resulted in 130mph. Had Siano set the redline at 7,000 rpm, the top speed could have crept into the 140mph area and the quarter mile time would have been a tad quicker as well.
This is a very, very rare engine, one that probably belongs in a museum. But man does this Corvair haul ass! With a purposely-limited top speed of 130 mph, this Corvair could easily keep up with any muscle car from that era…and sound sick doing it. Since Siano agrees on the uniqueness of an all-aluminum 283ci block, plans are in place to yank out that mill in favor of a traditional 350ci. small-block. It’s currently being built and should be worth another 100 horsepower.
We find ourselves getting suddenly nostalgic for impractical, compact sports cars like the Corvair, where you are literally sitting right in front of the engine. Sure, it might not be as famous or as popular as other Chevys of the era, but we’d love to see more car guys undertake neat projects like this. Though if we had if our way, it’d be a late-model powerplant like the LS3 engine in that Corvair, not the antique 283ci.