Pick of the Day: Rampside Corvair carries small-block V8

Pick of the Day is a 1961 Chevy redone in Pro Street style

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Note the air scoop on the flanks of this 1961 Chevrolet Corvair Rampside pickup truck

Even at first glance, you’ll notice that there’s something different about the Pick of the Day, a 1961 Chevrolet Corvair Rampside. 

You might notice the unusual color scheme, or the aftermarket wheels or the lowered stance. What I noticed was that big air scoop hanging off the driver side of the vehicle between the front and rear axles.

As if any ’61 Rampside doesn’t draw attention, “this one is upgraded to a Pro Street custom machine with serious V8 power, an upgraded suspension, and four-wheel disc brakes,” notes the Lutz, Florida, dealership advertising the originally rear-engine but now mid-engine pickup truck on ClassicCars.com. 

“So while people might want to get a nice look at this rare pickup, it may be hard, because it has the power to be a blur as it rockets on by.”

It was for the 1961 model year that Chevrolet introduced its Corvair-based pickup truck; think El Camino based on the sporty, rear-engine compact car. 

In place of the Corvair’s 144cid 6-cylinder engine and its 80 horsepower, the Pick of the Day carries behind that air scoop a Chevy 350cid small-block V8 with an Edelbrock 4-barrel carb, hi-rise intake, aluminum radiator with dual electric fans and wrapped headers.

The 2-speed Powerglide automatic transmission has been redone with a trans brake, 3,000-rpm stall and reverse manual valve body.

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The rear end has been bolstered with boxed steel reinforcing and also tubbed to accommodate larger rear tires. There’s also a 4-link rear suspension setup with adjustable coilovers and disc brakes, as well as a Dana 60 rear with 4.10 gearing for quick acceleration. 

The body is colored Flame Orange with gold center tripe, brightly chromed bumpers, a custom bed cover, wood-floor pickup bed and, of course, those Weld-style racing wheels.

The forward-control passenger compartment has a full roll cage, bucket seats with racing harnesses, ProComp ratchet shifter, AutoMeter gauges and a dash-mounted tach with shift light.

“This unique Corvair is your Hot Wheels fantasy come to life,” the dealer suggests.

The vehicle is offered for $35,995. To view this listing on ClassicCars.com, see Pick of the Day.

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A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

10 COMMENTS

    • The Corvair cars weren’t any more dangerous than any other trans/swingaxle car, VW Beetle comes to mind. This urban legend is the result of Ralph Nader accusing GM for accidents caused in great part by the inexperienced, untrained, unskilled, and inattentive American “driver”- a curse with which we remain afflicted to this very day, only worse due to smartphones. Drive a nice survivor or restored Corvair. You’ll be quite surprised.

      • this.
        absolutely.

        Ralph Nader would have us all driving solid rear axle antiques, despite their comparatively worse safety record.

        You only see solid rear axles in trucks anymore and finally even those are starting to evolve past agricultural suspension designs.

      • Here’s a short and pretty good article about Nader and the Corvair.

        He was 100% right that it was a weird car, and Chevy tried to make up for handling weirdness with strange tire pressure requirements — not at all sound engineering.

        Sure people are expected to be decent drivers, but when a car handles poorly due to design and execution the average driver can’t be expected to compensate with skill.

        • That is your ‘opinion’, which you are entitled. Having owned Chevrolet Corvairs (6 in total), I am of a ‘different opinion.’

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