London resident Joe Slagle grew up around Chevrolet Corvairs.
General Motors’ answer to the at-that-time burgeoning interest in compact vehicles — thanks in large part to the Volkswagen “bug” — was the rear-engine compact, which debuted in 1959 for the ’60 model year.
At that time, Slagle, then a young man, worked as a mechanic for the Jack Johnson Chevrolet dealer in downtown London, current site of McDonald’s restaurant on East High Street. He had been to Chevrolet’s training facility in Cincinnati and kept up on the ongoing changes to Chevys through service bulletins.
So when the older mechanics in the service department saw a Corvair come in for service, they lobbied the service manager to “give it to the kid.”
“I’m a Corvair mechanic,” Slagle said. “I know them inside and out.”
The Corvair he owns now, a ’61 Corvair 95 Rampside pickup, proved very popular at a recent Corvair show in Michigan. His blue and white version was voted Best of Show at the Detroit Area Corvair Club meet.
Slagle has owned the Rampside for about a year. He saw it advertised in a magazine to go up for sale at an auction in Akron. He and his wife, Elsie, drove to Akron to bid on the vehicle.
Slagle said though a number of bidders entered the fray at first, as it goes, the sale came down to two bidders. Slagle prevailed. Though he declined to say how much he paid, it was less then he had initially planned on.
“It had no reserve,” he said.
That means the seller must accept the highest bid. If a reserve had been placed on it by the seller, if the bidding did not reach that pre-determined amount, the seller was under no obligation to sell.
While the exterior was complete, the interior was not. Slagle said the doors had to be finished, which he did.
Slagle drives it around Central and Southwest Ohio to meets where the “oldies but goodies” shine. It was shown recently at the Rib and Jazz fest in London and at a show in Yellow Springs.
Slagle also has a ’66 model Corvair 500 two-door hardtop, with a 110 horsepower engine.
Dean Shipley can be reached at 740-852-1616, ext. 1617, on Facebook at Dean Shipley or via Twitter @DeanAShipley.
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