The "Little Blue Baby" needs a new home.
As owner of Heirloom Art Studio, I, Kathryn Rutherford, sadly, make the announcement that I am looking to part with one of my most heartfelt possessions, that of my 1960 Corvair 800 Sedan that I purchased in 1973, at the age of 15. I didn't even have a driver's license when I took one look at this adorable baby and fell madly in love with this vehicle. Eventhough, at the time, it had a dented left fender and two flat tires, I paid the original owner $50.00 of my hard earned babysitting money and had my father trailer it home to be repaired and loved. Little did I know that after thousands of miles of North American adventures, one theft (to be used as a getaway car in a grocery store robbery!!), acting as Secretary, Events Coordinator, and President of the Detroit Area Corvair Club, a divorce, one accident, and a permanent move from Canada to the United States, the car would still be in my possession....AND IS RUNNING!!! But, Alas, the time has come to part with the Little Blue Baby.
HERE'S THE STORY...
I grew up with antique cars and spent many hours in Ontario, Canada, toiling in the garage beside my father doing body work and vehicle repair. By age 15, my father, mother, and brother had a fleet of antique and daily driver's that totalled FOURTEEN cars ranging between a 1920 Overland, 1927 Whippet, 1951 Nash, vintage Oldsmobiles, 1957 Buicks, and more. The 1960 Corvair would make vehicle number fifteen.
I was just about to turn sixteen and had my sights set on attending Arizona State University when I completed my Grade 13 year of high school (It took 13 years to graduate for University in Ontario at that time). Leaving my native Canada and heading off to school by myself in the next year would require transportation and, as the local "car guy" word about vehicles for sale was always being whispered in Daddy's ear.
One spring day, Daddy asked me if I knew what a Corvair was. I emphatically answered, "Yes. It looks like a Mustang, but sounds like a Volkswagon with the engine in the back." Well......doesn't it when you are fifteen years old?! Daddy asked if such a car would suit me to go off to school and we headed off to check out this gem with the forewarning that it would need some repair work because a young driver had lost control of his vehicle and hit the fender while it was parked and this was the reason the original owner was selling the car for such a paultry sum as opposed to repairing it.
Made at the Willow Run Plant, in Michigan, this vehicle was manufactured strictly for sale in Canada. You'll see this when taking note that the paint on the inside of the engine lid matches the body paint as opposed to American Corvairs that customarily have black interior lids. The car was ordered as a surprise gift for the wife of the Manager of the Leamington, Ontario, Canada Chevrolet Dealership and was delivered to her Christmas Eve 1959---back when cars rolled off the assembly line the previous fall instead of in January of the new year. Miss Edna lived two doors down from my Grandmother and this was the FIRST Corvair delivered to Ontario. I was three years old when it appeared on the Canadian streets for the first time.
Okay, whether I am ashamed of myself or not, I have to let you in on an embarrassing side secret that was not revealed to me until a year after the Corvair was in my name.
FLASHBACK: One cold, early spring day when I was about five or six years old Miss Edna's grandson was visiting and I was invited over to play with the young man seeing as how there were not many children in the neighborhood to entertain the visitor. This kid was a hyperactive terror and, due to the cold, suggested we play in the garage where his grandmother's Corvair was safely tucked away against harsh winter weather.The grandson proceeded to climb up onto the Corvair's bumper, crawl across the trunk lid, place his backside on the roof, letting his legs dangle down the windshield, and told me that I should do the same because he did it all the time. WELL!! Growing up with vehicles of value and prestige I certainly knew better and emphatically said, "Absolutely NOT!" but peer pressure eventually got the best of me and, soon, there I was sitting on the top of the car enjoying the graceful slope and contour of the windshield and front end.
I thought no more about it until the dreaded, "Sit down. We have to talk." speech came from my own grandmother and furious parents who were being "requested" to pay half the fee of $100 to repaint the roof and trunk and remove the scratches that I had additionally contributed to the neighbor's car. (It was never determined if the brat's parents paid the other half or if my Grandmother's neighbor footed the remainder of her grandson's share of the damage.) Either way, the "special order" white roof needed a new paint job.
For years my eyes avoided Miss Edna's yard until the incident was permanently erased from my memory and was long forgotten. That was until ten years later when, after purchasing the Corvair, my father brought it all back by saying, "You do realize that you now own the vehicle into which we invested money when you were five years old." HOLY MISADVENTURE!!! You mean this is THAT car?!!! Oops! Guess my $50.00 car was now a $100.00 initial investment, eh.
As stated, in 1973, the Corvair was sitting on the roadside and an inexperienced driver lost control of his vehicle and dinted the driver side front fender. After purching the car, I put $180 (I still have the receipts!) into the fender repair, a new paint job, and miscellaneous parts and pieces and, in 1975, took off for the next phase of my life, driving cross country to attend Arizona State University where I would obtain my first Bachelor Degree and become a licensed Fine Art, English, and Special Education teacher.
When purchased, the Little Blue Baby only had 27,000 miles on it (yes, it was a case of a little old lady driving twice on Sunday) and I made the trip back an forth between Windsor, Ontario, Canada and Tempe, Arizona, eight times, each time taking a different route across North America and including side trips to Las Vegas (where, while wearing a floor length evening gown, the valet parking attendants required a lesson on how to put the car in gear and how to pull the hand brake), Los Angeles, Grand Canyon, Lake Havasu City, Nogales, Mexico and many more points of interest. If rubber bushings and windshiled wipers had to be replaced bi-annually because of the Arizona heat, the Corvair was never again driven in snow unless it was through the U.S. mountains on one of my many excursions. Upon returning to teach in Canada, in 1979, it was forever stored in a garage during winter months. All those places and the car still has less than 84,0000 original miles on it (first time around!).
Sporting hot pants and long blonde hair in the '70's, my favourite memory with the car was pulling up to Western Auto (an auto parts chain whose buildings have wall to wall and top to bottom glass fronts) and asking for two specific numbered Gates fan belts and a PF 4 oil filter. These were essential pre and post travel parts for my trips from Arizona to Canada. Corvairs do not run without fan belts....as well I know the two times I broke down in New Mexico.
The parts dealer behind the counter treated me like a dumb girl and asked, "What's it for?"
Multiple times I stressed that it made no difference, that these were the parts I wished to purchase. Finally, I relented and, motioning to the vehicle clearly visable through the front wall of glass, I informed him of the make, model, and year of my car. But....I was grinning like a Cheshire Cat as I knew exactly where this conversation was about to go.
You see, my Corvair was made BEFORE November of 1959. Parts distributors only listed, and often still do list, parts for '60 Corvairs made AFTER November. Many late manufactured parts do not fit on my car.
As expected, the man checked his books and stated that the parts I wanted were not the ones I needed to buy. He wouldn't listen to reason and would not sell me the parts I asked for. Apparently, the customer was not always right when you were a teenage girl buying car parts.
Finally, I said, "I'll make you a deal. If you can get the fan belt you are holding on that car I'll buy every fan belt you've got in this building." Four men and one customer followed me to my car. SURPRISE!!!! To the dismay of all onlookers the fan belt was one inch too small to fit my car. "May I now have the parts I asked for, please."
From that day until I left Arizona permanently all I had to do was drive into the parking lot of this distributor, pull up to the glass wall, watch at least three guys bump each other and motion my way, and say, upon my arrival at the counter, "YES, MAAM! What can I get for you today?" No one there ever questioned my parts knowledge again no matter what part I asked for.
But wait, remember me saying the Baby was a getaway car? It's true!!
I went to the parking lot of my Arizona apartment, near the Arizona State campus, to give the Blue Baby it's once a week hand wash and wax but.....the car was not in its customary parking spot. OH NO!!!
Sitting with a police officer in my apartment, who was taking a stolen vehicle report, he called in the theft report only to have his radio dispatcher call back and ask to confirm that we were in search of a Turquoise and White, 1960 Corvair, with Ontario, Canada, license plates. It seemed that, at that very moment, the car was spotted by a patrol officer making his rounds. The car was seen pulling up to the curb in front of a grocery store where four large African American males were climbing out of it, leaving the engine running, and looking around suspiciously. When the Policeman approached, he recognized the suspects, gave chase, but lost the four men when they slipped out the back door of the grocery story. First, and ONLY time, I have ever been in the back of a Police car as the officer escorted me to the location to retrieve the Baby which I was allowed to take home as soon as it was fingerprinted and checked over for evidence.
What a mess!!! Fingerprint powder everywhere, torn upholstery and headliner, and the ignition switch was lying on the floormats----they'd used MY own screwdriver and tools to vandalize my Baby.
A three hour wash cleared the surface mess and an insurance claim paid for all new seat upholstery, carpeting, and headliner. The upholstery job was done by a professional vintage car upholstery company in Michigan and, while I was greatly disappointed he did not have the original fabric, I was satisfied that what was used was authentic 1960 textiles.
In 1983, I was involved in a traffic accident that caused the right front fender damage seen in the photos on this page. While following a large truck, the truck swerved suddenly to the left and a panel van appeared out of nowhere which I was unable to avoid and hit square on. The right fender was crushed and the frame was pushed back jamming it slightly into the right passenger door. That didn't stop the Baby and I from participating in a multitude of activities even if, on one Detroit Area Corvair Club rally, the Baby sported a giant bandage taped over his fender that boldy sported the worlds "OUCH!".
My heart was broken seeing my Baby damaged but, just as I was about to have him completely restored life took over. Divorce, single-parenthood, selling my home, relocating my business, and so much more kept me from putting in the time and money required to fix the Baby properly but, that did not stop us from continuing our participation in the Detroit Area Corvair Club and membership in CORSA and having a great deal of good times with great friends.
Point of fact: In the mid-1980's, CORSA put a call out for all 1960 Corvair owners to send in their information and VIN numbers to determine which '60's were still around and/or still on the road. It turned out that the Little Blue Baby, although numbered up there, was the twelth earliest 1960 of all those who responded to the survey. Yea, me, eh!
I moved several times, remarried, relocated to Tennessee, fell off a mountain in a moving truck accident and didn't walk for six months, and so many other things happened that kept the Corvair in storage in Canada. The car was kept licensed and insured the entire time and my brother and father were charged with the task of taking it out and running it around to keep the engine and brakes from locking while I lived in Tennessee and dealt with life.
It was only in recent years, that the Corvair, thanks to some travel assistance from Clark Hartzel of the Detroit Area Corvair Club, cleared U.S. Customs and was trailered to Tennessee. It was turned over to my mechanic who did a complete $1,200.00 mechanical makeover replacing the gas tank for a new old stock one ($240 with shipping) I located from a DACC buddy, new battery, brake lines, major tune-up, replacement and repair of the fan, defrost, and heat lines, heater (which must have been a bonus model as, unlike others I have talked to, ALWAYS worked well), and as many parts replacement or repairs as he could accomplish until he was forced into early retirement due to health and financial concerns and had to close his mechanic garage. Five thin whitewall tires (including the spare) were purchased ($600) and the car was brought to my home where it currently sits waiting for the only immediate repair required that wasn't completed, that of replacing the brake cylinders. Once those are replaced the car will be 100% mechanically ready to hit the road as the Baby is registered and licensed in the State of Tennessee.
Unfortunately, however, the realization has come that I will not be able to continue with the restoration of my cherished vehicle. I am simply not in a place in life, or with finances, to restore the car.
March 2017, my beloved father passed away leaving his antique car collection to my brother and myself. A partner in all things Corvair, Daddy had just completed the restoration of his 1966 Monza Convertible seeing to it that I would inherit a car into which I would not have to put my savings. Sometime in the next eight months, I need to transport my inherited 1966 Monza to my current property that has only a one car garage. My husband and I wish to sell this Tennessee property and relocate to another state or, possibly, return to Canada. As such, we have a great deal to liquidate prior to any move and, with these plans, comes the realization that my Baby will simply have to be sold. As much as it breaks my heart to part with my first car, my travelling companion and adventure partner, there is no choice but to find a buyer for the car that might find some value in its far less than perfect body, but drivable condition. Kindly consider purchasing this well-loved vehicle or pass this information on to those who might discuss a purchase.
The vehicle was never intended to be a show car just well maintained and well used. It has had rocker panels replaced and body work done by my father and I as well as the entire back end body work done professionally. I have all the maintenance receipts and logs of what was done to the car over the years. I know the years have taken their toll and I have no illusions about the condition of the Baby. To preserve the vehicle for it's provenance extensive work will need to be done but, much of it is valued even if someone separates it for the good parts. At this time, I simply need to sell it and do not want to know what happens to it once it leaves my legal possession.
Given the provenance of being the first Corvair delivered to Ontario, Canada, its relatively low mileage, myself being only the second owner of the car, and all the recent mechanical repairs, I have consulted with members of both the Detroit Area Corvair Club and the Knoxville Area Corvair Club who equally agree on a value and suggested asking price. We will start there as listed below.
I do have a right and left fender cut from another 1960 that were to be used in the restoration. I also have several new original parts that I will also sell over and above the price of the car, or sell individually once the car is no longer mine. Included in that list of extras are the original Shop Manual, magazine advertisements, the Thursday, October 1, 1959, Leamington Post and News Newspaper page where Wigle Motors announced "NOW! The Revolutionary Corvair by Chevrolet" is here, and probably enticed other Canadians to purchase a Corvair after mine was ordered, as well as videos and CD's of original tv ads and promotions, fender skirts, body trim, and more.
Won't someone please take an interest in this offer and purchase the Little Blue Baby so it will no longer break my heart that he sits unattended and disintegrating before my eyes.
Heirloom Art Studio
1960 CORVAIR 800 SEDAN FOR SALE
5 NEW Thin Whitewall Tires-$600
New Old Stock Gas Tank, gaskets, connector kit, etc.-$295
New Brake Lines, New Battery, Engine Tune-up, filter replacement, mechanical repair,
gas tank installation, heater repair, Fan/Defrost/Heat switch and line repair-$1,200
Only needs brake cylinders to be road-ready.
ASKING $2,000.00 for Corvair and all new parts listed above
Additional parts (listed below) to be sold separately after vehicle sale
Original Owner's Manual with my US travel map and CAA/AAA Triptik directions for the eight trips between Windsor, Ontario, Canada, and Tempe, Arizona
Most of the issues with the driver's side front fender derive from the 1973 damage mentioned above and are superficial.
Okay.....so the passenger side front fender damage is NOT superficial.
The entire lower section of the body was professionally restored in 1982 and was absolutely perfect until a twit working for my mechanic backed a floor jack into my car and damaged the grill and the body. Good thing he was fired and disappeared before they told me and I got my hands on the guy!!
Engine lid is painted same colour as the body because this is a Corvair made for Canadian delivery.
Roof needs new paint. The guys that stole the car to be a robbery getaway car walked across the roof and put a dint in the surface. The edges of that ding are now popping off or show some surface rust.
This breaks my heart!!! The drip edge has rusted as has the under part of the roof overhang. As such, water got into this area and leaked inside staining the once nearly-new headliner. I was told by Corvair restoration experts that the easiest thing to do would be to cut off the roof and replace it with a good roof from another 1960 body. The gentlemen said this would be an "easy fix". Perhaps once, but now beyond my present available time and finances.
Interior like new. Installed 1978. Am surprised that, with all the deluxe extras the original owner asked for in this car, they did not order the drop down rear bench seat. Sure would have made my travels a great deal easier filling up the Baby with everything I owned.
My mechanic needed cleaner boots! A little carpet cleaning required.
Radio works (as AM goes!) as do Fan, Defrost, and Heat switches and heater last time I had it operating.
CB Radio used with the car and a selection of spare maintenance parts all available for separate purchase. The jack is not Corvair as the original one slipped and would not hold up the car when I purchased this vehicle. The original jack might be in my father's garage, in Canada, but an estate sale would be required to go through his antique car restoration garage to locate it. That may happen later this year?
Four new whitewall tires are on the car (have not cleaned the whitewalls yet) and a new whitewall spare is in the trunk. The car had wide whitewalls on it when I bought it. Boy, I sure miss those because they looked so great!
The undercarriage has issues including sheet metal pop rivetted over a hole that was in the floor when I bought the car. Hey! Who planned to keep a car for a lifetime? I planned to replace the floors if I restored the car.
EXTRA PARTS FOR SALE AVAILABLE ONLY AFTER THE CAR IS SOLD
PARTS ARE NOT INCLUDED WITH THE SALE OF THE CORVAIR
Right and Left Fenders cut off another 1960 to be used in restoration of my 1960
Two sets of Hub Caps available. One set (shown above) in "Driver" condition. One set show condition. First buyer gets the original box.
I believe I have 5 chrome rings. Will have to check.
Someone stole the original chrome antennae cover.
Set of center body trim. NEW!
Fender Skirts. NEW!
Also have two additional wheels (required in Canada in the "old" days when the spare wheels held your snow tires), and miscellaneous parts such as oil filters, gaskets, air filters, a new set of clothing hangers for the back seat to replace the ones taken off when the headliner was installed new, and the driver's side "wind deflector" window crank/locking mechanism that was damaged when the car was stolen and recently fell off.