Bringing Your New Corvair Home


So You Bought a Corvair...Now What?






As someone who both drove a 1965 Corsa 1,000+ plus miles home in a weekend and who transported a 1966 Corsa 950 miles home, I have a few thoughts on the different ways to transport newly purchased Corvairs.






Driving or Towing Your Corvair






If you have the time and proper equipment, driving your Corvair home is a great way to see the country and have a unique experience.  This is particularly true if you share the ride with a friend or family member and do fun things on the way (e.g., see a game in every Major League ballpark you pass on the way home).






Download the Bringing Home the New Corvair Trip Checklist!As you can probably tell, I’m a big believer in checklists.  I can’t stand it when I forget to bring or do something that’s a key part of a transaction, only to suffer a needless delay or expense as a result.  Having all the minor issues thought through (like printing up a Bill of Sale) before you have to deal with driving for 10 hours, sleeping in a strange hotel bed, negotiating prices, etc. is a good way to increase your chances of having a successful and enjoyable trip.  Please click the checkmark on the right to display and/or download a checklist of items to bring on a “Bringing Home the New Corvair” trip.








Before you consider driving an unknown vehicle (particularly one that’s been sitting for awhile), you or a mechanic should give the car a thorough inspection.  Be sure to check the brakes, fuel lines (stale gas is a near certainty), tires, spare tire, headlights, taillights, etc.

You might even wish to go ahead and proactively replace a few items that would leave you stranded if they were to fail on the drive home.  One key part which comes to mind on a Corvair is the harmonic balancer.







Download the Bringing Home the New Corvair Trip Checklist!


A table full of freshly rebuilt harmonic balancers from Dale Mfg.

You can order a Dale rebuilt directly from the manufacturer or from one of the major vendors such as Clark’s or Corvair Underground.




A Corvair harmonic balancer is not an item you’ll find at NAPA or Pep Boys.  At the very least, you should carry a spare with you for the long drive because, if the harmonic balancer separates, your vacation will be extended for as long as it takes to order and ship a replacement.  Replacing one before you start takes about a half-hour with the right tool.  As long as you have it off, why not put on a new fanbelt, too?








Using a Transporter: You Might Save Money by Sitting in Your Den with a Tall Cool One






The longer you need to drive to get your Corvair home, the harder it becomes to justify the expense of the trip.  The reason for this is the cost of feeding and sheltering yourself while traveling.  It might actually be more cost-effective to let someone else bring your Corvair to you.

Say you’ve purchased a nice, low-mileage, original owner car that’s located about 1,500 miles from your home.  We’ll assume that you want to keep costs down by traveling home on the cheap, but not so cheap that you’re sleeping in the car and showering at truckstops.






We can calculate the cost of driving or towing by making a few basic assumptions:

  • You should start by assuming you'll average 50-60 mph during the entire trip.  (I don’t think this figure changes too much whether you’re driving or towing a 35-year old car home.) This average would include stops for meals, nature's call, tolls, traffic, etc.
  • This rate of speed translates to about 500-600 miles covered per 10 hour driving day.  At that rate, you'll be on the road for 2-3 days to cover the 1,500 miles.  It’s probably not realistic to assume you’ll drive 16 hours a day, unless you have more than one driver.
  • Finally, let's assume you time it right so you only have to spend two nights in a hotel.


Now, let’s do the arithmetic:







Cost Component



Notes / Rationale






2 Nights in a $40-50 Hotel, e.g., Motel 6, including taxes.












3 meals per day per person at $8 per meal.  Hint: Think roadside food such as McDonald's or Denny's.












1,500 miles divided by 20 m.p.g. times $1.50 per gallon = $112.50.  Round this up to $125 to include tolls & oil.  Adjust the assumption if gas prices are different.









Plane Fare



One-way flight for 1,500 miles on a discount carrier.  If you’re going to drive out with a friend and drive two cars back, double all of the numbers above instead, and then double the Fuel/Tolls number again to account for both cars driving in both directions.









Trailer/Hitch Rental



You’ll probably need to get a current/local estimate from U-Haul, Ryder, etc.












and that’s before you even rent the trailer...






The bottom line is that when you add up the costs of a longer trip, you'll inevitably be within $100-200 of letting a professional transporter do the job for you.  Plus — and this is a big plus — part of the reason you’re paying the carrier is to bear the risk of doing the transport.  If the car rides home on the back of a truck, it can't break down and you can't have a trailering accident.

Finally, because you don't have to drive all day long, you also don't have to take time away from family and work.








I hopped out and snapped this photo of my daughter as we were crossing the border into Canada on our way home from Michigan to Rhode Island.

I don’t even want to think about how I would have shipped
the car home if it had broken down while in another country...






Choosing a Transporter








Getting yourself 15-20 transport quotes takes about as many minutes using the Internet.  To find the transporters, go to Yahoo! and key in "auto transport" in the Search field (with the quotation marks).  Normally, you’ll get more “hits” than you’ll want to pursue.  Most will give you a quote by email within 24 hours.

It’s worth shopping around, though.  If you're lucky, you can occasionally catch a carrier who's got a truck going where you're going who will drop his rates substantially just to put a car on a truck that would otherwise be going with an empty slot.

This happened to me in the summer of 2001.  Almost everyone else was quoting $600-650 to move my ‘66 Corsa from Georgia to Rhode Island.  One transporter, however, quoted $300.  When I asked why, he let me know that it was because he had an empty slot on a truck and that the quote was only good for five days.  Unfortunately, I couldn't move that quickly and missed the opportunity.  I ended up paying $500.















Be sure you understand how long the transporter has been in business and whether they own their trucks or rent slots on somebody else's.  The first transporter I selected canceled TWO days before he was supposed to show up to move up the car.  This left me to scramble to find someone else and reschedule with the seller.  As it turned out, the transporter was just starting up and was not fully in business yet.








The Bottom Line








My recommendation?  It mostly depends on your answers to the three big IFs:

  • IF the car is in running condition, and you'd like to take a mini-vacation, and you don't mind all the driving, I’d say do it yourself.  While it depends where you're going from/to, there’s a chance that you'll save a few bucks anyway.  You’ll also get to know your new Corvair that much better.  If you do choose to drive it yourself, be sure to check and/or replace all the things that can go wrong on an older car, including and especially the brakes.
  • IF the car you’ve bought is not in running condition, trailering it yourself might make some sense since many transporters won't even handle a car that needs to be winched.  Those that do will charge you a premium to put it up on the truck.  Personally speaking, some of the horror stories that have been posted on Virtual Vairs (cars and trailers going into spins, down ditches, over embankments, etc.) would make me think twice about this transportation option.  But that's just me.
  • IF you'd like to get your Corvair home risk-free to yourself (no trailering accidents, no breakdowns, no lost time, etc.), and don’t mind paying an extra $100-200 net-net to do so, then by all means call a reputable transporter.

I wish you the best of luck, whichever method you choose.