It’s OK to geek out about a car without driving it

I used to think you had to drive a car to truly appreciate it. Oh sure, you might be able to look at, say, a Ferrari 250 LM or a C6 Corvette ZR1 and recognize its brilliance, but I never thought you could experience a car by admiring it or simply sitting in it. This fervent belief was rooted in the idea, taken as gospel, that cars are meant to be driven and you cannot fully judge or even understand a car’s character by looking at it.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.hagerty.com/articles-videos/articles/2019/03/06/its-ok-to-geek-out-about-cars

Had you been in attendance at Road America a couple of years ago you would have been able to witness 20 of these cars screaming around the track for the 50th Yenko Stinger gathering!!

I understand where you are coming from, but I have to respectfully insist that to FULLY appreciate a car, you need to drive it. My personal example is Ford’s Boss 302 Mustang. I knew all the facts, and had actually had the opportunity to work on one, but until I drove it, I didn’t truly appreciate how little torque it had at low RPM and how it literally leaped as it came up into it’s power band. Once I got accustomed to it, it was a blast to drive, but I swear a stock VW Beetle could beat it through the intersection…

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Its too bad you didn’t get to drive that Corvair,it would be a tremendous experience for you. Back in the 60s when the corvair came out I was fortunate to attend numerous Chevy training center classes and worked for a Chevy dealer as a master tech and as such enjoyed working on all aspects of repairs as well as some modifications. Needless to say I had to have one. First a 60 coupe fixer upper which got me hooked when the newer body came out. I found another 66 coupe needing work and with larger engine and a four speed it was a blast to drive especially the way it handled. Moving on I later had a 67 corsa convertible with the 140 engine and it was even more fun. I regret I sold all my shop manuals and especially all the special manuals and service bulletins I obtained when attending classes at the GM Training Ctr in Hinsdale Ill. If I were 20 years younger I would put together another, probably with a modified turbo setup, ah we can still dream!

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@glensden - I have really been enjoying my '65 Corsa 140hp. The Yenko is that car dialed up to 11 though. Even just closely inspecting YS-043 gave me a good feeling of just what it would do compared to my street car.

The Corvair is a wonderful car. It was ahead of it’s time, when every other American car was looking for more power, the Corvair was working on power to weight , and handling. The Stinger was designed to take that to another level. They accomplished that with an SCCA championship in D production in 1967. Our group, Corvair Racers organized the Yenko Stinger anniversary. It was a historical event for sure. Mid Ohio will have the Corvair event this year. Thanks for the story, I have yet to drive a Stinger myself.

It’s OK indeed, like being an armchair hobbyist but actually experiencing the object of one’s affection. That’s how I felt when seeing a field filled with Corvairs of all kinds a few years ago at the America’s Auto Museum in Tacoma, WA. It included one with a legal Oregon license plate that reads F NADER and an accompanying “you got us” letter from the state.

Such geekery has risks, of the “Don’t meet your heroes” variety. A friendly enthusiast invited me to sit in his Studebaker Avanti at a meet where they were among the featured marques. Seconds after climbing in, the urge to buy one was extinguished! The seating position was all wrong despite my average height and build. At that moment I realized an Avanti would be tolerable for no more than a Sunday cruise around town. Oh well.

Still the Corvair and Avanti remain great designs, with advanced engineering for their day. Yes, they also share a cold corner of the collector car market - respected but not enough to inflate prices to the levels some of their contemporaries enjoy. However this is a good thing among owners and admirers alike, who love them for what they are.