Rafee Corvair in the Heartland of the USA; tel:918-413-1548.
In this section, Rafman shares some tips and info on wheels for early and late model Corvairs, and F/C trucks and vans. see below for pix & details.
Rafman and some of the herd.
FAQ: 65-9 : can I go back to my stock 13" wheels if I want to ?
When I got my first 65 4-door, power-glide with telescopic steering wheel, I wanted to keep the Classic look, but with a sporty twist to it. I was interested in installing bigger wheels & disc brakes with a set-up that would allow me to revert to the original one if I wanted. I did my own research, and found a set-up that allows you to switch from 13" all the way to 18", and back. The main reason I wanted to install disc brakes was to improve the poor stopping performance of the car with the drums. Drum brakes lose their grip,especially in the rain, and I wasn't too satisfied with that. As you may know, there are 2 disc brake kits available for late models: 1 with a small rotor, will allow to switch back and forth, 13" to 18" wheels. The second disc brake kit has a bigger rotor and will only allow 14 " to 18" wheels. For more details about disc brakes, don't hesitate to give me call or text 918-413-1548. You can see the available disc brake kits for your Vair under the "brake parts" section.
Examples of wheels installed in late models: 16 X 8, 8-spoke wheel, includes chrome center caps & chrome lug nuts;
EARLY MODEL WHEELS: it is harder to find wheels that will fit the early model than it is to fit the late model Corvairs; some of the wheels pictured are still available, some have been discontinued by the manufacturers. If you run 16" X 7 and 17" X 7 wheels for early models, you must run front disc brakes with those, and you might need to do some modifications due to the width of the wheel. I am aware that you can accommodate some 14" or 15" wheels in an early model, but you cannot lower the car due to backspace/ offset issues, you need to keep the car stock, meaning the front end is higher than the rear, that is the way all Corvairs came from the factory, and that can affect the performance, that is one of the reasons I don't deal with those wheel sizes. For those who only care for looks, not performance, those wheel sizes can be installed.
Check below pix of some of the jobs I have done on wheels and disc brakes, on clients cars, as well as my own.
1963 Spyder, 180 Turbo, with 17 X 7, this wheel has been discontinued.
1963 Ragtop automatic with 17 X 7, 5 spoke chrome wheels, wheel not available anymore.
5-spoke chrome wheel, 16 X 7, you must run front disc brakes.
1963 180 Turbo, 16 X 7, 42 offset, you must run front disc brakes if you don't want to use spacers.
1963 180 Turbo, another view of the black wheels with red stripe.
In this ride, I run 2 different size tires, 40 series in the front, and 50 series in the rear, it handles awesome; also been upgraded with a 1964 front suspension for better performance.
1964 coupe with 17 X 7, chrome 5-spoke, with front disc brakes.
HOW TO LOWER THE FRONT END or REAR OF YOUR RIDE : As you can tell, I dig early models, there is nothing wrong with the late models, just a personal preference. I dig both designs, I believe Corvairs were ahead of their time but let's face it: STOCK CORVAIRS ARE REALLY UNSAFE, PARTICULARLY EARLY MODELS, ESPECIALLY WITH THE CHEAP TIRES 180-85-13". I don't know if you guys are aware of this, but you can replace them with 195-70-13" or 185-70-13". Of course, it is not going to fix the problem 100%, but you WILL notice a difference! I would recommend to install some Heavy Duty KYB shocks in the rear and Light Duty in the front, available for sale under "suspension parts" or heavy duty ones all the way around, that will make your ride tighter. Also what will help, is lowering the front end or the rear by cutting some of the coils. I recommend to cut from 1 full turn, to 1/2 turn or even just 1/4 turn at a time depending how your car sits, so that way you don't cut too much, resulting in excessive lowering, there is no going back, you would need some new springs. Use a cutting disc for a clean cut, as you can see Rafee doing it. Some folks recommend using a torch (are we BBQing or what?), myself, I don't like it, too messy, you won't get a clean cut, and many folks don't know how to use one, it can even be dangerous! As far as the height goes, that is up to you, how low you want to go. Sometimes, by lowering the front end alone, it will make the car sit even, you won't need to touch the rear. This is THE CHEAPEST WAY TO GREATLY IMPROVE THE HANDLING OF YOUR EARLY or LATE MODEL. Usually, late models don't need as much work . In 1965-69, Chevrolet improved the design of the car. But for some reason, the front end still seems to be higher than than the back, resulting in poor handling. BE SAFE WHEN DOING THIS WORK, use jack stands in addition to the jack under the car, and goggles when cutting, don't stand in front of the spring when removing. Good luck with your project!
Lowering the rear, don't forget to set your emergency brake when setting the jack under the drum, that will keep it from slipping.
When removing coil springs from the front, it is easier to disconnect the lower ball joints by removing the nut and the 2 bolts that hold the strut rod to the lower A-arm; don't forget to put a jack under the A-arm for safety, as you can see in the pic. You can do it, there's nothing to it!
Always start cutting from the lower section, and don't forget to set the end of the coil spring in the little stopper, as you can see in the pic; make sure that the spring sits flat inside the upper tower.
FAQ: 60-64: CAN I GO BACK TO MY STOCK 13" WHEELS IF I WANT TO ?
I first got interested in wheels with my first Vair, a 62 Coupe. Even new to Corvairs, I noticed the handling and stopping was real poor, I saw that many guys were installing wheels in their Vairs, and they were going through so much hassle, modifying axles, hubs, drums, using bigger studs! Dang, there had to be a better way. Another thing I didn't like is that you could not go back to your original wheels if you wanted to. So, I started doing my own research, it has been a long process as this issue is a little complex. I noticed that there were many wheels out there that will fit the early model lug nut pattern, and with the right offset, it will be an easy switch from stock to aftermarket, and back to stock, if you desire.
Something that can complicate the picture though is the use of disc brakes, as you know, there are 2 kits for the early model: 1 with a small rotor that allows you to use your 13" wheels, and bigger wheels up to 17 ", no problem with that one, you can switch easily back and forth. The second disc brake kit has a bigger rotor, therefore will not allow you to go back to 13", only 14 to 17".
Hanging with Frenchy at the show!
Below, 64 Coupe 4-speed with 17" X 7 wheels, front disc brakes; daily driver proudly owned by Big James in Cali.
61 Rampside with 14" wheels and front disc brakes, now gone to a new owner in Arkansas! Many memories together, like this day feeding the herd; there are many choices for F/C wheels, as they have the same bolt pattern as late model Corvairs.
63 marroon 110 HP automatic
Another tip: you can improve the handling of your early model by cutting, not reheating- some of the coil springs from the front & rear to your satisfaction, adding some heavy duty KYB shocks, front & rear-available under suspension parts, and some decent tires 185-70-13". Man, what a sweet ride! Here you see this 63 Maroon Coupe already modified.
You can do all this yourself on a pretty tight budget for a big improvement in safety, now, THAT'S WORTH IT! All parts needed available here on our website.
1963-65 Master Cylinder, F/C vans & trucks, #RBP310
Save: 28% off
1960-69 mock air cleaner, yellow with chrome web, #RAC34
Save: 9% off
Welcome to our online store. We're adding new products on a regular basis. We carry thousands of new, used and some NOS parts, too many to list. If you don't see what you are looking for, don't hesitate to call us at 918-413-1548, or click on the e-mail link above. We do ship worldwide, and will be glad to get a quote for you, just e-mail your list. We will also be glad to answer any questions you might have about your Vair, and help you get your ride back on the road, where it belongs! Happy to be at your service!