victorialynn2

Corvair Ultra Van Bull(etin)

Recommended Posts

Today on a Facebook Corvair page, I quite by accident stumbled upon some interesting info about my Papa (Grandfather on my mother’s side). Papa was very interested in corvairs and I do believe that is where my father’s interest was peaked for them. He owned Ultra Van #434 from about 1973-1985. I found out the coach is just about 20 miles from me. (They have an excellent registry). I went to Rallies with them and cruised the Oregon Coast many times with them. 

 

I was also told this:

I just figured out why the name was familiar. He wrote the ULTRA BULL(etin)s - very early and influential UltraVan maintenance tipsheets! He wrote "Flush It" (oils), "Cool It", Basic Bull" (weight control), "Tune It" and of course the classic "Ruckus in the Rear". :)

 

 

Yes, Papa had a sense of humor for sure. 

He also wrote training manuals for the military after his service. They made a new private citizen pay grade for him and he was the highest paid civilian of his time.

 

I remembered the van but didn’t have a picture of it and didn’t know about the newsletters. It was really neat to get all this info. I hope y’all don’t mind me sharing this. 

 

Sample newsletter:

ULTRA BULL(ETIN) - August 1974 - Flush it

Also a picture of me with Mama and Papa when I was about 15 or 16, about 1980, and a current pic of the Ulta Van. 

BFDCBA9B-0710-435F-AD0E-597F5D8E070F.jpeg

EF686A5B-5391-4B71-890B-01D14E1C1023.jpeg

Edited by victorialynn2 (see edit history)
  • Like 3
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Very nice V.L., so nice that you have good memories of your grandparents ....... and their Corvair Ultra Van. 

 

Many folks never believed they were Corvair powered, but they were.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, bobg1951chevy said:

Very nice V.L., so nice that you have good memories of your grandparents ....... and their Corvair Ultra Van. 

 

Many folks never believed they were Corvair powered, but they were.

Yes sir and I distinctly remember going up a long, steep grade on I5 in this in Northern Cali on the way to a Rally. It had plenty of power to climb that grade. I have been in pickup trucks hauling boats that struggled more. Haha the ride was very comfortable. Papa even took it grocery shopping. My Mama didn’t have a license and he could wait for her while enjoying a cold drink in it. ?

 

They also do not have a chassis and are designed and built like airplanes. 

 

Note: scroll left in the newsletter to see the other pages. Looks like it was uploaded backwards. 

 

 

Edited by victorialynn2 (see edit history)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Years ago there was one that parked very near our spaces at Hershey every year. This was when the old Green field was still mud. We called it the Slug.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I recall the same one that Restorer32 mentions at Hershey as well, quite possibly the last time I saw it , it was in the NE corner of the Red field above the stadium. I believe by then it had a face painted on the front.

But that was several years ago.

Victorialynn, thanks for sharing your memories with us and the images as well. Really great.

  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I remember seeing the Ultra Van at Hershey in recent years too along with the days on the grass. Yesterday I sold my 1984 Tioga MH I showed at Hershey in 2014 and got an HPOF. Dressed up as Cuzzin Eddie with sewer hose on the show field. Cuzzin Eddie and the Tioga made one last appearance this year in flea market. It was purchase new by an Ohio Region AACA member and spend many years in the flea market with the original owners and myself. Sorry to see it go but I tired of working on it. Maybe the Ultra Van owner can bring to the show next year. Another Ohio Region AACA couple has shown their GMC motorhome a few times. 

 

Tomcarnut

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For those like me who have never heard of it,

can someone tell more about Corvair Ultra Vans?

 

It looks like a camper.  Was it an aftermarket product,

not from the days when General Motors made their

own campers?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
53 minutes ago, John_S_in_Penna said:

For those like me who have never heard of it,

can someone tell more about Corvair Ultra Vans?

 

It looks like a camper.  Was it an aftermarket product,

not from the days when General Motors made their

own campers?

It is a very unique camper. Here is a great resource to learn more: https://www.corvair.org/chapters/ultravan/

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Uv2inter.gif

 

Hopefully the couch can be turned to face forward when it is time to drive.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 minutes ago, mike6024 said:

Uv2inter.gif

 

Hopefully the couch can be turned to face forward when it is time to drive.

 

LOL, yes and it had a removable table that goes there and serves as a second bed. Kinda of weird as two people fit in each side as you drive down the road. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hello Victoria,

 

Nice story.  Thank you for sharing it.  Marie and I really liked how they looked when we first saw one.  We are blessed to have or be caretakers of some Ultravans.  Our dream has been to some day have an Ultravan museum to help raise funds for some charities that we support.  Lord willing it will happen!  But it not - we hope to get them back on the road and find each one a good home, while we can. 

 

Back in 2010 Marie and I purchased an older, smaller, house with more land so we have the space to attempt this dream / goal.  I'm a retired US Army and ASE mechanic with extra  time on my hands.  It is a real joy for me to be able to get cool old vehicles back on the road where they belong.  I have been doing it for decades.  Car and motorcycles alike.  However, the Ultravan is my first RV project.  Below is a link to the Ultravan I am working on now.  I hope to find it a new home; before or after I finish everything mechanical and have it road worthy again.  This one will be modern, using only the body.  I'm replacing everything and most of it with new, up to date parts.  Making it a one of a kind Ultravan for someone.

http://www.ultravan.club/index.php/topic,54.0.html

 

Thank you again for sharing your story.  It is always nice to hear about other Ultravans, their owners and the history behind them.

 

Sincerely, Tony

 

UV231 Off the Trailer.JPG

Edited by Ultravan Owners (see edit history)
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The picture above is Ultravan #231 and the one I am working on now.

 

Below is a picture of the first Ultravan, I got running, UV256, at one of the car shows.  I was blessed to get it running in less than a year after it arrived.  It had sat for over 28 years with a bad engine before we got it.  After I got it road worthy again, I started taking it to local shows and cruise nights, even though it was a long way away from being finished, restored, with new paint and interior.  It might be an ugly duckling to some.  But for Marie and I we were proud new parents and had to show it off.   Marie drove our Corvair Rampside, sitting next to the Ultravan.  Ultravans are just so cool looking.  How they came about and were built, just adds to it all.

 

Tony

UV256 at a car show in 2009.JPG

Edited by Ultravan Owners (see edit history)
  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"Form follows function". BTW "Many folks never believed they were Corvair powered, but they were" - well a few had "more".

 

An interesting progression is Ultra Van> GMC Motor Home> Vixen.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, padgett said:

"Form follows function". BTW "Many folks never believed they were Corvair powered, but they were" - well a few had "more".

 

An interesting progression is Ultra Van> GMC Motor Home> Vixen.

 

For those interested. 376 Ultravans were made over 7 years.  320 of them came with a Corvair power-plant.  The rest were V8 and a couple of them were never finished before they shut down production.

Edited by Ultravan Owners (see edit history)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Based on my experience driving Dad's Ramp Side with a full load of mounted truck tires the Corvair powered Ultras must have been, shall we say, very under powered or at least must have had a fairly low top speed. Were they automatic or manual shift?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I really had the UltraVan bug many years ago. I corresponded with someone in Canada it may have been you Tony (I lived in Western NY then). I finally decided they were not practical for my uses unless I found a V8 model since I wanted to tow a small trailer to haul a Crosley on some of the trips. I always looked forward to seeing the one at Hershey but I haven't seen it for a few years.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Most were automatics, the Corvair Powerglide transaxle. An NVCC (Northern Virginia) club member has bought one out of Baltimore that has a 4 speed. It was converted at some point in prior ownership, he thinks.

 

Remember, the Rampside and other FC models had a GVW of 4600 lbs. And 80 HP.  The Ultravan, due to aircraft aluminum style construction, comes in under that, unloaded, and is 4600+ after loading to take a trip. And you can now build higher horsepower engines to push it.

 

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just as a POI, the Vixen I had was powered by a 115hp 140cid 6, weighted 6300 lbs, and had no problem keeping up with traffic or cruising at 70. It did have a 5 speed.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, Restorer32 said:

Based on my experience driving Dad's Ramp Side with a full load of mounted truck tires the Corvair powered Ultras must have been, shall we say, very under powered or at least must have had a fairly low top speed. Were they automatic or manual shift?

 

Our 63 Rampside weighed around 4,600 and they came stock with an 80HP / 128Tq ..  Our UV256 Ultravan weighed 3,620 when I took it to a truck scale and it had a 110HP / 160Tq.. I had no problem driving 70MPH and for the 3 years I drove it I was getting 15 to 15.6MPG.   

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, Frank DuVal said:

Most were automatics, the Corvair Powerglide transaxle. An NVCC (Northern Virginia) club member has bought one out of Baltimore that has a 4 speed. It was converted at some point in prior ownership, he thinks.

 

Remember, the Rampside and other FC models had a GVW of 4600 lbs. And 80 HP.  The Ultravan, due to aircraft aluminum style construction, comes in under that, unloaded, and is 4600+ after loading to take a trip. And you can now build higher horsepower engines to push it.

 

 

 

Frank,

 

I couple of them, I think 4 in all, left the factory with a 4 speed and a couple more were converted. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, padgett said:

Just as a POI, the Vixen I had was powered by a 115hp 140cid 6, weighted 6300 lbs, and had no problem keeping up with traffic or cruising at 70. It did have a 5 speed.

 

 

When I was a full time ASE mechanic, I use to work on two different Vixens.  I like them. They came with either the GM V6 Auto or a BMW diesel with a manual..

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

https://www.hemmings.com/magazine/hmn/2007/10/1961--64-Chevrolet-Corvair-Rampside-and-Loadside/1522489.html

 

They offered more power than Volkswagen's pickups, and could be had with Chevrolet's two-speed Powerglide, or a four-speed manual. The gross vehicle weight rating of 4,700 pounds meant that they could handle a payload of up to three-quarters of a ton.

 

So it sounds like the Rampside weighed 3200 pounds and could carry an additional 1,500. Both those figures are higher than I would have guessed, especially the 1,500 payload.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, the S.A.E. papers on the Corvair FCs also list the 1500 lb. payload. 

 

I can tell you when I went to the brick yard to pick up over 1000 lbs of mortar (10 ninety pound bags) and blocks to help the bricklayer at my house, they were surprised when I opened the side doors of my rusty 62 van and had them load it in. Handled the load great!

 

One time I had it loaded with enough hardware and tools from the shop (moving to new location)  that it took two scissor jacks to jack it up when the brand new tire's valve stem failed. But the van handled the 60 mile trip fine after a new tire was installed! 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now