Even to some Corvair experts the Spyder version of the Corvair is a mystery. And since the engine is what makes it different from everyday Corvairs, we can conclude it’s the engine that makes it a mystery. As Original Parts Group is almost ready for final assembly of our 1964 Corvair Spyder convertible, we thought we should at least touch on this mystery engine. So what’s the big deal?
First, these were turbocharged—and in 1962 when they were first introduced, that was a big deal. For American-made cars only the Olds F85 had a turbo before the Corvair. The TRWsnail with its three-inch impeller huffed 10-pounds of boost into the flat-six air-cooled engine. This increased output to 150hp—almost 50hp over a garden variety ‘Vair engine, and increased torque by 57-percent, which can stretch lots of components beyond their intended function.Chevy’s solution for the Spyder’s first year was to install stronger intake and exhaust valves and valve guides, a forged crankshaft rather than a normal cast unit, a spark advance system that would help control detonation at high boost, and lower the 9:1 compression down to 8:1. So that drivers could monitor things, a cylinder head temp and manifold pressure gauges were put into the dash.
With the turbo spinning 70,000rpm, a chrome shield was added to spare the spare tire from the turbo’s heat. If you’re looking for info on the electronics, wastegate, or other common turbo components, forget it. This was 1962—there were no electronics or wastegates back then. This was it!
In 1963 Chevy went about making some further changes to improve the Spyder by incorporating a more aggressive camshaft. Then in 1964 the piston rod stroke was lengthened from 2.60- to 2.94-inches, increasing displacement to 164ci, which increased the torque rating. Though the three- and four-speed manual transmissions were stout enough to handle 150hp, the Spyder chassis also got some improvements, but we’ll save that for another time. Doug and Tom are prepping for the body to get back all nice and yellow and shiny to begin final assembly next week—August 20, 2018. We’ll bring you some more as we get closer to finishing our Spyder.