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Yenko "Super Stinger" Corvair


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#1 CorvairJim

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Posted 20 June 2012 - 06:01 PM

This is a "What If" phantom that I built about 20 years ago. As a little background: Back in late 1965, Cannonsburg, PA Chevy dealer and parft-time road racer Don Yenko decided that he wanted to get involved in SCCA racing in a major way. He went to the authorities at SCCA to ask if the Corvair Corsa would qualify for the D-Production class. He was told that it was a compacrt car, not a sports car, thus it didn't qualify. He proposed modifying the car to comply to the letter of the rules for their description of a sports car. They said "Fine, you show us 100 cars that are modified to the rules of the class and it will qualify as a production car... Oh, by the way, you have until the end of January to show us the cars"! Yenko sprang into action. He got in touch with Chevrolet's Fleet Office and ordered 100 Corsa coupes in white with black interiors, 3.89:1 limited slip differentials, and quick steering and shift setups. In six weeks, his shop modified the cars to SCCA specs, removing the back seats and finishing the rear of the interior with plywood, reworking the suspensions for handling with firmer springs and shocks and an additional steering snubber, and modifying the engines up from the factory 140 gross h.p. in four states of tune. Stage I was good for 160 h.p., Stage II, 180 h.p., Stage III, 220 h.p., and Stage IV (NOT legal under SCCA rules, but one hell of a street car!), 260 h.p. Meanwhile, he farmed out the painting duties to several body shops in the area, so there were several variations on the width of the blue stripes that all of the cars received, as well as shades of blue paint! These "Yenko Stingers", as he called them, went on to a fair amount of success. In fact, they were still competitive as recently as a decade ago, when Stage III Stingers won their class in a pair of SCCA National divisions.

My "Super Stinger" phantom is my take on what I think Don Yenko would have done had he decided to go road racing in a major way instead of concentrating his efforts on the dragstrip starting in 1967. (He did produce a further 10 Stingers in 1967, and a single example for Goodyear for tire testing purposes in 1969). I built it to conform, as closely as possible, to the F.I.A. rules for Endurance racing as they were in 1967. The tires fit entirely inside the fenders. There is a 5-point rollbar that comes up to at least the height of the top of the driver's seat, and there is a passenger seat. There is a fire extinguisher within reach of the driver. I modified the AMT 1969 Corvair Monza coupe kit by cutting the chassis plate to accept the flat-12 engine I built for it by mating a pair of kit Corvair sixes. The cooling fans, one over each bank of six cylinders, are driven by a shaft on a spur gear at the center of the crankcase. It gets it's fuel from a set of 12 single-barrel Weber carbs. Thak a look at the wheels and tires on the model: They're the stock pieces from the Monogram 1:24 "High Performance Series" 1987 Pontiac Trans Am GTA kit! (If you happen to have any of those tires and wheels just sitting around, let me know - I WANT MORE OF THEM!) I shaved the lips from the wheel wells for aerodynamic purposes. I made the front air dam by cutting down the custom nosepiece from the Corvair kit, but the rear wing was scratchbuilt, as is the fire extinguisher. The shifter is a straight pin. The seats are the rqacing buckets from the Corvair kit, but the passenger-side seat is cut down some to keep the backrest down out of the air stream as much as possible.

That very yelloewd "white" paint gives you an idea just how old this model is! I love the look of those wheels on this model!

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White with blue stripes were the official American racing colors, as dictated by the FIA. When sponsorship became such a huge deal right around that time, the traditional national colors went by the boards.

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I kept as much of the Corvair's character alive in the Sports Prototype version as I could, keeping the standard taillight area intact, for instance, and running the lower body character line back through where the original rear wheelwells were.

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Sorry it's so dusty in there! It's hard to keep an open-bodied model clean on an open shelf! Anyhow, the fire extinguisher is entirely scratchbuilt, and I added several gauges to the instrument panel.

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A flat-12, several years before Porsche had one!

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Underneath, I probably should have done more with the exhaust headers than just letting them dump the spent gases under the car!

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#2 High octane

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Posted 20 June 2012 - 06:08 PM

Great idea and really nice job on that build!

#3 Bartster

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Posted 20 June 2012 - 06:54 PM

OMG! Wild concept & even wilder execution! That thing would be wicked on the straights. l like the blue stipes. The cockpit looks cramped but very functional. The lines of these cars flow beautifully & l'm glad to see your mods added rather than detracted from the look. Beautiful racecar! l would be very proud of this one. Bart.

Edited by Bartster, 20 June 2012 - 06:55 PM.


#4 250 Testa Rossa

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Posted 20 June 2012 - 07:05 PM

How do you make the front smooth after removing the chrome trim?

#5 CorvairJim

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Posted 20 June 2012 - 07:28 PM

Nice catch, Maxx. That is one of the problem areas of this body that AMT never did get right. The front panel isn't supposed to be concave between the headlights and the central peak like they molded it. I just went slow and easy, filling it a layer at a time until it was level, and evening it out between rounds of filler with a sanding board. I had to re-scribe the trunk lid line while the putty was still soft each time or risk losing it completely. Removing the trim bar made this a lot easier! Now if someone would come out with a photoetch set for the Corvair kit (Yeah, fat chance of that ever happening!), I could smooth out the front panel on all my "Late Model" (1965-69) Corvair builds, since I wouldn't have to worry about losing the nameplate beside the driver's side headlights.

#6 Danno

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Posted 20 June 2012 - 08:08 PM

Love it, Jim! Great job of capturing the essence of Yenko. There's nothing sexier than a racing Corvair!


B)

#7 jeffs396

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Posted 20 June 2012 - 08:12 PM

Very cool Jim!!!

Luv those Corvairs! :wub:

#8 PBII

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Posted 20 June 2012 - 11:52 PM

Great build well done!!

#9 TooOld

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Posted 21 June 2012 - 01:45 AM

That's pretty cool ! The mods you did make for a great looking car , and yeah , those wheels are nice .
I think Don would approve !

#10 Dr. Cranky

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Posted 21 June 2012 - 01:52 AM

I like it. The stripe clenches the look.

#11 crazyjim

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Posted 21 June 2012 - 02:03 AM

Pretty cool looking build. I didn't know the Yenko story, thanks.

#12 Ira

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Posted 21 June 2012 - 04:48 AM

GREAT BUILD JIM!!!

Nice Bodywork & Hot Engine too... :)

#13 Badluck 13

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Posted 21 June 2012 - 05:17 AM

Long live the Air Suckers!!!!!,cool lil' concept,love the 12 "cans"!!!!!,now that would be a "Buzzin' Dozen"

#14 Ace-Garageguy

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Posted 21 June 2012 - 05:02 PM

This is a really fun concept model. I love the idea of a Corvair based flat 12. Back in the dawn of time, I had just about every version of Corvair offered, from the '60 4 door to the last 2-door style from '69. Along the way, I had both early 150 hp and late 180 hp turbocharged Spyders. I mean I really loved Corvairs. There was a guy here in Atlanta who put a big-block Chevy in the back-seat of a late convertible and ran it in (SCCA) A sports-racing against McLarens, etc. It sure would have been cool to see what a 12 cylinder like yours could have done.

It's really great to see this model, and thanks for putting it up.

#15 CorvairJim

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Posted 21 June 2012 - 08:27 PM

Guys, I can't tell you how good it feels to have my old build getting such a great response. My clinical depression has been acting up for the past few days and my computer is one of my refuges when I get "down" like I've been recently. Thanks for your support and kind comments.

And William, I have a mid-engine, Corvette Z06-powered Corvair model in the works for the "Gumball Rally" CBP. If anything, the bodywork will be even wilder than it is on this one. I've already widened the fenders about 4" scale in back and 3" in front, and the front trunk lid has a big hole in it (Ford GT40 style) to let out the cooling air from the front-mounted radiator.

#16 Lunajammer

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Posted 22 June 2012 - 07:59 AM

Hey, great piece there Jim. Even made me do a Google search to see more about these Stingers. Pretty interesting concept car.

#17 Ace-Garageguy

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Posted 22 June 2012 - 02:00 PM

I have a mid-engine, Corvette Z06-powered Corvair model in the works for the "Gumball Rally" CBP.


Really looking forward to seeing that. ZO6 and Corvair probably have never even been in the same sentence before. I'll be watching for it.

#18 CorvairJim

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Posted 24 June 2012 - 08:24 PM

Thanks for the props, everybody!

William, there are still plenty of Corvairs out there if you ever want to get back into the hobby.

Mike, I always do my best to inform other hobbyists about the background of my builds. If I inspired you to look further into the Yenko Stingers, I feel I've done my job. If I've inspired you to build a model of a Corvair, I'll be thrilled. And if I've inspired you to actually consider getting a 1:1 Corvair of your own, well, I will feel satisfied down to the soles of my feet! They're great little cars, even in stock form. They adapt well to modification and parts are readily available from a number of sources. Maybe not as plentiful as Camaro or Mustang parts, but easy enough to find. And due to their undeserved bad reputation, they're among the least expensive collector cars out there... but they're getting more expensive every day! From what I've seen, they seem to be appreciating at a faster rate than many seemingly more popular cars. Those cars already had their appreciation phase; Now it's the Corvair's turn.

#19 Bartster

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Posted 24 June 2012 - 09:06 PM

Hey Jim, what do you know/remember about Crown Mfg? They did a conversion kit in the early-mid '70s to install a SBC engine in the back seat area. My best friend & l pooled our $ together & ordered one, but the deal on the Corvair fell through & we were stuck with a kit we had no use for. l don't suppose they're still around or someone else is making a similar conversion? Bart.

#20 CorvairJim

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Posted 25 June 2012 - 09:05 PM

Crown Manufacturing made one of two popular mid-engine V-8 Corvair conversions. Theirs kept the Corvair transaxle in it's standard position, attqaching it to the engine via a bellhousing mounted to the front of the transaxle. This was made possible due to the fact that that the transaxle itself was basically a Borg-Warner T-10, with the input shaft from the clutch routed to the front of the unit THROUGH THE CENTER OF THE HOLLOW OUTPUT SHAFT! That made it simple to just mount a clutch at the front end of the unit. That also made for a somewhat cramped interior, since the engine came well forward. For instance, at 6'3", I can't drive a standard Crown conversion safely - I'm just too tall.

Another popuilar conversion was made by Kelmark, more famous for their VW parts and "Kit Cars". Theirs was called a "Corv-8" (which has come to be used in the Corvair club as a generic term for ANY mid-engine V-8 conversion). It differed from the Crown kit in that the transaxle was turned around and the engine bolted up to the "engine end". That moved the engine much further back in the body. I understand balance is slightly better in the Crown cars than in the Kelmark for handling purposes due to weight distribution, but the Kelmark is better for straight-line work.

As far as I know, neither company is still around, but I could be wrong on this. Clark's Corvair Parts in Massachusetts offers many of the parts from the Crown conversion in their catalog, including the subframe. If you still have that Crown kit and it's getting in your way, you could give it to me... I know I could put it to good use some time in the future, even if it meant modifying the interior so that I could sit farther forward...