HomePick of the Day1966 Chevrolet Corvair Monza V8

1966 Chevrolet Corvair Monza V8


The Chevy Corvair looks like a very clean and well-finished stock coupe
The Chevy Corvair looks like a very clean and well-finished custom coupe

So why not? That’s what the builder of this custom Chevrolet Corvair must have said to himself when he decided to transplant a Chevy 350 cid V8 into its rear engine compartment.

The Pick of the Day is a very unusual 1966 Chevrolet Corvair Monza hardtop, essentially a street-rod version of Chevy’s lightweight compact, and must be an incredible hoot to drive. Curb weight for a stock Monza coupe is around 2,500 pounds, and a standard Chevy 350 would have a mighty horsepower and torque boost over a stock Corvair flat six, even a turbocharged one.

The Las Vegas classic car dealer listing the car on ClassicCars.com calls it a “truly unique Corvair” in the brief ad description.

The Corvair’s V8 rumble is emitted through a pair of wide chrome tailpipes
The Corvair’s V8 rumble is emitted through a pair of wide chrome tailpipes

The transplant was done via a “quality SBC conversion” that started with a “rust-free California car” and “very well-engineered,” the ad says. But there’s no word in the ad as to who built the conversion, the performance status of the V8, or how long ago it was converted and with how many miles since. These are questions a potential buyer would need to ask the dealer.

Nor does the ad reveal whether the V8 engine is cast iron, which weighs about 250 pounds more than the stock air-cooled Corvair engine, or aluminum, which weighs about 100 pounds less than the iron V8. Whichever, the 350 would add a bunch of extra poundage swinging around behind the rear axle, so hopefully the builder engineered the car to compensate for the potential oversteer.

I assume that SBC conversion stands for Small Block Chevy since I could not find an entity called SBC on the Internet, except maybe Southern Baptist Convention, Sanford-Brown College or the Small Business Center. Nothing on V8 conversions for Corvairs. I did find kits and companies that, similarly, squeeze Chevy V8s into various Porsches, including little mid-engine 914s, though that seems like a crime against humanity.

The V8 seems to fit nicely in the Corvair’s rear engine compartment
The V8 seems to fit nicely in the Corvair’s rear engine compartment

The Corvairs that I did find with V8 transplants had the engines mounted in front with a total chassis swap or else, in at least one extreme case, in the middle where the back seat used to be. I’m sure there are other Corvairs with V8s in their backsides, but I didn’t find one. The radiator for this Corvair V8 is set up in the front compartment of the normally air-cooled car.

The Monza looks very sharp in the numerous photos, with gleaming red paint and wide, black speed stripes over the front and rear decks.

I’ve always liked the clean and simple looks of these later-generation Corvair coupes, and this one seems pretty sweet with stock contours and an athletic stance, and standing on Boyd Coddington chrome wheels.

The dealer describes the paint, chrome and interior as in beautiful condition, and that the car runs and drives great. Besides the brawny V8, the Corvair also comes with a four-speed manual transmission, leather seats and a full factory gauge package.

The asking price seems fair enough at $21,500 for this interesting Corvair, but I would say that a spirited test drive would be a must in order to make sure the car drives well with the added horsepower and extra rear weight bias. But if nothing else, I’ll bet it’s fast and would be a huge hit at local car shows. Although Corvair purists might curl their lips.

To view this listing on ClassicCars.com, see Pick of the Day

Bob Golfen
Bob Golfen
Bob Golfen is a longtime automotive writer and editor, focusing on new vehicles, collector cars, car culture and the automotive lifestyle. He is the former automotive writer and editor for The Arizona Republic and SPEED.com, the website for the SPEED motorsports channel. He has written free-lance articles for a number of publications, including Autoweek, The New York Times and Barrett-Jackson auction catalogs. A collector car enthusiast with a wide range of knowledge about the old cars that we all love and desire, Bob enjoys tinkering with archaic machinery. His current obsession is a 1962 Porsche 356 Super coupe.
  1. So you “looked on the internet” and didn’t find ONE Crown Chevy conversion or any of its siblings? Really? Stop depending on the internet and do some real research. There have been at least 6 different “official” Chevy v8/Corvair conversions and in the period just as many B-O-P aluminum V8 conversions. Just sayin’ dude…

  2. I once saw an Olds front wheel drive Toranado installed in the rear of a Corvair. Bet it was a blast as well.

  3. Spirit beat me to noting the Crown Chevy conversion – which was mid- engine as I recall. I had (and still do) a 1963 Corvair and having seen a V-8 conversion in a Renault Dauphine like I had before and had dreamed about, I was very interested in the Crown conversion too. Flipped the transaxle, I believe.

  4. AS mentioned already the V-8 conversion (mid-engine/back seat – mostly CROWN kits I believe) was not that rare and involved flipping the trans (forward) and ring gears to correct/reverse the rotation. Heat, both eng temp and vehicle interior temp was a major problem for most with poor engineering on the behalf of the backyard installers. I have seen them with olds and chevy engines. But, Spirit, what is meant by “official”? P.S. You can still find the kits on-line. I have owned Corvairs ranging from Rampside p/u to vans to 2 dr 4 carb and turbos and think Nader should have been extradited.

  5. Crown Corv8 did not flip the trans. The gearbox was left in the stock position and a new input shaft and bell housing was added to the front side of the gearbox. That’s why there is so little room for the driver/passenger. I went to high school with the Trevor kids and rode in and drove the Trevor’s Corv8. They often drove it to school. A better conversion is the Kenedy Engineered Products adapter and flywheel to adapt the Civic engine that already spins the correct way and weighs much less. Makes for a much better machine, but won’t impress chrome happy philistines.

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