Corvair emblem Corsa Crown Corv-8

written by David Lewis with photos by Chan Bush

(Originally published in an early '70s edition of 1001 Custom and Rod Ideas)

There are engine swaps, and then there are engine swaps...big Hemis into little roadsters...big Chevys into old '55-56-57s...and big Ford cammers into little Mavericks and Mustangs.

But the ultimate swap of all has to be the Six-for-Eight, end-for-end transformation designed and marketed by Crown Manufacturing Co., Inc., of Newport Beach, California. Crown, you see, stuffs a Chevrolet V-8 into a Corvair.

If that isn't unusual enough to begin with, Crown's "Corv-8" conversion puts the engine in its proper place - amidships. Take a look at the photos: That is the engine where the back seat used to be, driving through that beautiful independent rear suspension just like all the modern racing cars.

Crown Corv-8 350 horsepower Corvair conversion

The mating is a natural one, combining the small-block Chevrolet engine with the compact, lightweight Corvair body. The big bonus is the fully articulated independent suspension of the '65 and later Corvairs which gives them superlative road holding and handling.

Yes, Corvettes have full i.r.s., too, but in this day and age, Chevrolet's "sports" car weighs in at nearly 3700 lb.! So, there is another advantage to the Crown Corv-8 Conversion - all finished and rarin' to go, it presses just 2750 lb. against the pavement.

Only the '65-69 Corvairs are suitable for the conversion as the earlier ones have a swing-axle suspension that isn't equal to the strain imposed by the bigger engine. They can be converted to the later sytem suspension through a lot of cutting and welding, but it's simply easier and cheaper to start with the proper model.

Ted Trevor, Crown's mechanical wizard who put this package together, further recommends that a '66 or later Corvair be used, or else the builder must convert the '65 transaxle to the later "Saginaw" type of gearbox. This is really the key to the successful conversion. The Saginaw set-up is the same as used in late model Corvettes, and therefore, is sufficiently durable for most any abuse. The input shafts on the earlier transmissions are just too weak and readily break.

Trevor also recommends the small block Chevrolet of 283, 307, 327 or 350 cubic inches displacement. He's experimenting with large block (396, 427 and 454 cu. in.) installations, but finds them "just too much" for transaxles and chassis. The bigger blocks don't make happy, long-lived conversions, though their performance tends to be immensely spectacular.

Strengthened differential is offered by Crown for Corv-8 and racing Corvair conversions. New carrier has extra pair of spider gears and is drilled to accept all Corvair gears, 3.08 to 3.89:1

Crown carrier

Click the road sign for Page 2 of the Crown Corv-8 article.


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