A restored Corvair encourages some storytelling

CORVAIR STORY: This 1962 convertible was actually a suburban garage find, not a McNally Family heirloom, but it really has earned preservation class awards.
CORVAIR STORY: This 1962 convertible was actually a suburban garage find, not a McNally Family heirloom, but it really has earned preservation class awards. –Bill Griffith

The people behind the Agency Acronyms that control much of our driving future—EPA, NHTSA, CARB—are finalizing a midterm report on progress toward meeting the government-mandated goal of a 54.5 per gallon fleet average by 2025.

However, despite all the talk of advances in electric vehicles, hybrids, and the coming of fuel cells, the infernal internal combustion engine likely will remain the propulsion of choice through the next decade.

A lot of people who are in the know explain that the combined average fleet mileage figure will be more like 40 mpg by 2025. Factors like carbon credits for building hybrids and EVs, plus the EPA’s own calculations, are going to be factored into the fleet average.


The result: A number that seems like a reasonable target.

Another reality is that there is a change of administration coming with this fall’s elections, which could mean a reconsideration of this entire initiative.

So far, manufacturers have shown that the interim fuel economy goals have been possible to achieve; however, with the drop in sales of electric and hybrid vehicles, there’s a question whether consumers will buy into the effort.

Clearly, there’s a segment of truly committed green folks who will hew to that goal. At the other end of the spectrum, there’s another group who looks at the low fuel prices and invests in a new SUV or pickup truck.

Look All Ways Before Crossing?

We’ve always been taught to look both ways before crossing.

Make that 360 degrees now.

During an early morning jog recently, I was crossing a four-lane road with a median strip. Traffic was light, though I had to stop on the median to let a group of cars pass. In retrospect I should have sprinted (at least fast-shuffled) across.

As I started across, a Honda Element I hadn’t heard come along behind me almost made me a hood ornament as it made a flying U-turn.


Maybe I need a pair of 360 surround-view sunglasses.

The Corvair Story

We stumbled across a bunch of New England car guys who hang out each winter at what they call their Old Guys Toy Box in Southwest Florida. They’re a rakish bunch of pranksters and car owners/restorers who make this nondescript garage their winter headquarters.

A few winters ago, brothers John (from Southborough) and Dave McNally (from Gloucester) discovered a 1962 Corvair in the Fort Myers area that wasn’t running but otherwise was in outstanding shape.

They bought it for a song ($2,000) and replaced the gas tank and entire fuel system, including carburetors. They also fixed a bad pushrod and wound up with a nice show car.

At a show, they noticed that a lot of cars had information boards, showing the vehicle’s history.

“Hmm,’’ thought John. Before their next show he wrote:

“In 1962, my wife and I were married while I was still in the service. Upon mustering out and returning to Mass., my wife’s parents presented us with this cute red Corvair convertible. We used it summers for about 10 years, and then put it in dry storage. Eventually, we forgot about it and there it sat for some 35 years.

“As we approached our 50th wedding anniversary, my brother Dave said, ‘Maybe we should find a Corvair to use as part of the festivities.’

“Aha. A Corvair.

“It dawned on me that the old Corvair was somewhere in storage. We finally located it and realized that the gas had turned to clay. Dave and I replaced the gas tank, carburetors, fuel pump, and fuel lines, along with many other needed items such as brakes, ignition parts, and so forth.


“After a month of work, she sort of ran.

“Now it runs fine and we share ownership of this mostly original, still-cute red Corvair.’’

The story, of course, was mostly fabricated except for the work it needed, but the car came home from that next show with a trophy in the Preservation Class.

And a lot of laughs. Including a recurring one when people ask about the period-correct curb feelers. If you don’t know about them, ask your grandparents.

“This car only came with an AM radio,’’ John will respond. “They’re the antennas for the FM converter.’’

Since, the car has won legitimate Preservation Class awards in meets judged by the AACA (Antique Automobile Club of America).

Brothers John and Dave McNally invented an elaborate story for their Corvair which they found and bought for $2,000. —Bill Griffith


Just wondering: Has anyone called in to say they’d be late to work with the excuse, “I forgot to plug in the car’’? … Happy Mothers’ Day to the car world. There is one car show today if mom is a car fan. The Westboro Rotary Club is hosting its annual spring festival with a 5K race, all-day Food Truck Fest, dog events, and a car and military vehicle show … Next Saturday, the Bay State VW Club has its dust-off with a cruise from West Bridgewater to the Mendon Drive-In. Details as bsvwoc.org … Also next Saturday morning (7-10 a.m.), Herb Chambers’ Cars and Coffee gathers at Audi of Burlington … The South Shore Antique Auto Club’s long-running flea market and swap meet runs next Saturday and Sunday at the Xfinity Center in Mansfield, starting at 6 a.m. each day … If you head to Sandwich, Heritage Gardens and Museums is offering a behind-the-scenes look at its auto collection Saturday at 11 a.m. with curator Jennifer Madden … Next Sunday, Lars Anderson Auto Museum opens its lawn season with Cadillac-LaSalle Day from 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

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