A two door, rear engined, air cooled flat six coupe. We’ve been here a million times before, right? Well, no. It’s rare for the American auto industry to try something radically new, but they most certainly did with the Chevrolet Corvair in 1960. Not only was this a move away from large land barges into something smaller, safer, more modern and far sportier, but its layout was truly big news – air cooled flat sixes have been commonplace since the 911, but the Corvair actually predated our favorite Porsche by three whole years. And what’s more, from 1965 the all aluminum, 2300cc motor could be enjoyed in turbocharged form. That’s proper innovation for 1965.
Of course the Corvair will forever go down in history, connected indefinitely to the name of political activist Ralph Nader, who’s book Unsafe at Any Speed slammed the first generation’s swing arm rear suspension in his damning review of the American car industry. External testing by the DOT later determined the Corvair to be no more diabolical than four of its more popular contemporaries and noted that the Porsche 356, Volkswagen Beetle and some Mercedes-Benz all used swing arms without issue. Despite a complete re-design in 1965 to fully independent rear suspension, the damage was done and after years of declining sales the Corvair was discontinued in 1969 after nearly 1.8 million of the revolutionary coupe, sedan, wagon, convertible and van had been sold.
Apart from a few small spots of rust, this lightly modified example was in mint condition and spotted sitting pretty in Adelaide’s Torrens Parade Ground recently. Still in left hand drive, this example has a nice stance over its three piece split rims, and I really dig the pro touring style front air dam, unfortunately a little hidden in the shadows of these midday photos. It just goes to show how a few carefully chosen and reversible modifications can really change the whole feel of a car.
Easter. A time of year with different significance for different people. Dedicated churchgoers will find themselves at the altar, while most of us spend the break with family or away on holiday. But for hardened motorheads, Easter brings an entirely different tradition – the Easter historic race meeting at Mallala.
Run by the Sporting Car Club of SA, the Easter historic race meeting is the highlight of what’s known as historic ‘speed week’ – several days of dinners, shows, the race meeting and a historic hillclimb at Collingrove on Easter Monday. The race meeting is considered to be one of the last true picnic style historic meetings left. Its very relaxed, very low key and the emphasis is really on camaraderie and enjoying some fine old cars.
So with this in mind, at about 5am on Easter Sunday I put the top down and hit the deserted hills roads, with some Donald Byrd playing to get me in a ‘classic’ frame of mind. Despite some early morning showers, it was shaping up to be a good day.
The day wasn’t purely one of spectating, as I was helping out as pit crew for Brenton Griguol who was racing his 1968 Lola T124 Formula 5000. I use the term ‘helping out’ and ‘pit crew’ very loosely, as I’m sure I probably just got in the way more than anything. But thankfully, and like he did at the recent Clipsal 500, Brenton was happy to have me along for the greater good of Any Given Reason readers! Continue reading →
Adelaide’s Zippel cruises have become somewhat legendary in car circles. Strictly for American cars and their owners only, the meet point, route and finish point of the Saturday night cruises are a closely guarded secret, only distributed to verified owners who have joined the Zippel Cruise Nights club.
The cruises run monthly during the summer and have done so for the past 24 years. The police are notified of the route, and the secrecy is designed to keep hoons and public spectators away. Zippel cruises have had over 400 cars on some runs, so it’s really important that it remains an underground thing to avoid it getting out of hand.
The first time I encountered a Zippel cruise was last year when we went to see a movie at West Lakes. We pulled into the carpark and it was completely full of American cars. It was like nothing I’d seen before, and I was almost speechless. It took a few months of sleuthing to find out what the gathering was and to get the contact details of the cruise organiser, Grant Zippel, and then quite a bit of fast talking to convince him to share the route for the next one with Any Given Reason.
So with a non-disclosure promise akin to top level military papers, yesterday Grant kindly emailed me the route for last night’s cruise. Starting with a 6pm meet at K-Mart Firle, the route headed north to Montague Road before turning back toward the city, finishing the other side at the Castle Plaza Shopping Centre. Continue reading →
It was a picture perfect day in Maui, the kind you always dream of when you’re stuck doing something uninteresting back home. Compared to the dreary mid-winter weather we’d left behind a couple of weeks prior, the sun was shining so brightly that we almost questioned its authenticity as the warm morning air blew through the open window of the bus we were on, caressing our faces and causing the Hawaiian shirt of our driver to flutter in the wind. We had already been camping around Maui for a week in an old Volkswagen camper, but that morning we’d given the keys back and were en route to the Hertz counter to collect something a little more location appropriate. Like seemingly every other tourist, we had a shiny V6 Mustang Convertible waiting for us at the end of our ride.
As we walked through Hertz’s impressive lineup of vehicles, I couldn’t help but notice several V6 Camaro convertibles spread about the rows of new Mustang’s. Given we’d already had a Mustang for a week on Oahu, I grandly requested of our rental consultant that we have a Camaro instead. ‘That’s your red one over there’ he smiled and said as he handed over the keys to a 426hp 6.0 V8 Camaro SS Convertible.
Given I’m under 25 and technically not allowed to rent a V8 for another year (we had tried on Oahu), I wanted to get out of there as quickly as possible before his supervisor noticed the mistake. I enlisted my girlfriend Chantelle’s help to cram our over-stuffed bags in wherever they fit and we fired up the big V8 and headed for the gate, Chantelle slightly bemused as to what the rush was. A short prod of the accelerator answered her questions, and she looked at me with a knowing smile. We stopped a little way down the road to lower the top, and as we took off along the Maui coast road, the CD player serendipitously swapped to Ball Park Music’s It’s Nice To Be Alive. Continue reading →
The cool thing about being into cars is that no matter where in the world you travel, you’re just as likely to run into people that share the same passion. Sure, they might be into different cars or styles than what you’re used to, but the passion still runs the same and you’ve got common ground.
We decided to spend a few weeks in Hawaii for entirely non car related reasons – sun, sand, surf, hiking and escaping the cold Adelaide winter being the primary motivations. But with this common ground in mind I decided to keep an eye out and my camera ready for whatever new automotive discoveries I would make during our trip. This is a short chronicle of what I found.
Supercars were very thin on the ground. I heard rumours of a few Ferrari’s getting around, but this Aventador was all I saw. But that figures I guess – the islands are small, the speed limits are low and the roads are most definitely not suited to 700hp monsters. No, idle bliss is king here.
I like the fact that this GT3 actually did have a disabled parking permit. It must have been sneakily obtained – Porsche is probably one of the least disabled-friendly manufactures, and the GT3 is probably the single worst car for a disabled person.
No sports cars here – Hawaiian transportation is all about working out how to get your surfboard to the beach. Be it on your bike…
Okay, so this is a little bit left of field for a sports car blog, but I still think this 1982 K25 Chevrolet Suburban is actually pretty cool. It comes from a time when real men drove full size SUV’s that had real ability and they didn’t give a damn about trivial things like safety or fuel consumption. It’s built to to a job – to move a group of people, their luggage and a whole lot of heavy stuff in a trailer across the land. I appreciate the fact that it was designed to do a job, and it did it well.
And I kinda want to meet the type of person who drives an 80’s Suburban. Do they go the whole way and rock double denim with cowboy boots, listen to Springsteen exclusively and smoke Marlboro’s?
Do they look like these guys, or has their personal style moved with the times? Continue reading →
I’m not usually one for Aussie muscle, but nonetheless I was intrigued when I stumbled upon this little collection the other day. As I was becoming disenchanted with the low quality of used cars I was browsing at a yard, my eyes wandered through a sliding garage door that was partially open. It was an old classic looking warehouse and inside were several old cars, covered in panel beaters dust. All the salesmen were busy making the hard sell to other customers, so I slipped in for a look and snapped these photos on my iPhone.