Man keeps Corvairs on the road

January 8, 2013 3:32:21 PM PST
Bad publicity put the Chevrolet Corvair out of production, but one suburban man keeps the controversial car from the 1960s running."I specialize in Chevrolet Corvairs. It's my job and my passion," Larry Claypool, owner of The Vair Shop in Frankfort, said, "since November of 1972. So about forty years." That was when Claypool was just 18. Corvair owners say he's the best at keeping the old cars running. They come from all around the Midwest to give new life to their cars at The Vair Shop. Sheri Fridele found her Corvair in California, and had it shipped to Claypool. "I had a '62 [back] in the day. It was my first car," Fridele said. "Now I have another one and I love it." The trunk is in the front and the air-cooled, six-cylinder engine is in the rear. "This was to be the American Volkswagen. It's what the Corvair started life as," Claypool said. An original, 1960 Covair sold for less than $2,000. Sales were big until 1965, when Ralph Nader wrote a book called "Unsafe at Any Speed" about the Corvair. That was the beginning of Nader, and the end of the Corvair. "We like to say the Corvair made Ralph famous and Ralph made the Corvair infamous," Claypool said. Nader and other critics said the Corvair had skidding and handling problems that led to accidents. But owners loved their very versatile cars and even pickup trucks. And, they still do. That's why Claypool still works. "When they're all put together the way that they left the factory, they're really a fine car. They drive well. They're fun to drive," Claypool said.