<VV> Happy Birthday Corvair???? (LONG)

Bill Hubbell whubbell at cox.net
Sun Oct 2 23:13:57 EDT 2005

The official introduction date of the Chevrolet Corvair was October 2, 1959

Happy Birthday, Corvair

Happy Birthday?  I'll settle for just being alive - both me AND my Corvair.

It happened like this......

On Thursday I was driving my '96 Dodge Caravan during morning rush hours, on 
the way to meet a friend, when the engine suddenly died.  I futilely 
attempted to restart the engine while hoards of angry drivers honked and 
flipped me off, nearly hitting each other as they swerved madly around 
either side of my car.  Fortunately, my friend was nearby when I called her 
and she was able to drive quickly over to my location.  With her car 
stopping traffic, the two of us were able to push the Caravan out of the 
traffic lane and into a nearby parking lot.  I called the dealer and a tow 
truck was dispatched to haul my car away for repairs.

With the Caravan out of commission for a few days, I turned to my faithful 
Dodge truck for transportation.  That vehicle took car of me for the next 
day, but when I came out of the house early Saturday morning, on my way to 
start a 14 hour day at the office, I found the left front tire completely 
flat, due to a nail.  The tire was so flat the bead had broken, so I 
couldn't easily re-inflate it and I was short on time for getting to work. 
My wife offered her Toyota, but I didn't think I'd be able to handle the 
clutch with the cast on my left foot.  So I turned to the John Glenn 
Convertible ('64 Corvair)

The Glenn car fired right up.  I noticed the gas gauge was low, but the 
needle was still above empty, so I figured I would have no problem.  It got 
me to work in time, no problem.

Fourteen and one-half hours later (10:30pm) I left the office and fired up 
the Corvair.  I glanced again at the gas gauge, but it still read about 
one-eighth tank, and being very tired, I decided to drive home and get gas 
the next day.  I'd never had a Corvair run out of gas until the needle was 
below empty anyway, so I wasn't worried.  I left the parking lot and drove 
to the nearest highway entrance ramp to take the short quick trip home.  I 
had just gotten up to speed (about 70 mph) and was at that point on I-264 
where the entrance lanes were merging into the highway, at which point the 
shoulder disappears for about a half mile.  In this city, everybody drives 
on the shoulder lane anyway.

Then it happened.

The car started slowing down.



I slipped the car into neutral and hastily tried to restart the car -- NO 

I coasted, hoping against hope to make it to the point where the shoulder 
came back.  I desperately wanted to get the car off the highway.

It didn't happen.

The car stopped in the worst possible spot:
--about a quarter mile past the end of the shoulder and a quarter mile 
before the breakdown lane began again;
--where the two ramp lanes from I-64 narrow down to one and begin their 
merge onto I-264;
--on a curve;
--at night;
--with a tall sound barrier wall stretching 20 feet into the air right next 
to the edge of the road

---No place to escape

---In a car with no Hazard flashers.
I thought for a brief second or two about getting out of the car and pushing 
it.  I quickly realized that would be suicide.  Instead, I started pumping 
the brake pedal to alert the drivers behind me while I tried desperately and 
futilely to restart the car (déjà vu!), even as cars were coming up behind 
me rapidly.  Several cars slowed or swerved at the last instance.  I heard 
squealing tires; there was the sickening smell of burning rubber, and I 
braced for an impact that I suspected would be the last thing I would ever 
feel.  In my mind I saw the crumpled rear end of my car; I heard my laptop 
shattering in the back seat; I felt my neck snap and my chest explode.

But, it didn't happen that way.

The car stopped inches from my bumper, then took off again, tires squealing, 
horn honking, finger waving, voice shouting.

I called 911 on my cell phone and was patched through to the State Police. 
They seemed to know I was in a Corvair; I guess somebody must have called 
them before me.  They said they would send help as soon as possible.

In the meantime, the cars kept coming up fast behind me.  There were several 
more very close calls, near hits (I have always hated the term "near miss"), 
and angry shouts and horns.

This went on for an agonizing five minutes, during which time my right foot 
became so tired from pumping the brake that I resorted to pounding pedal 
with my casted left foot.

I knew it was only a matter of time before somebody hit me.  I was scared, 
very scared, but I was also sad that John Glenn's Corvair was going to be 
destroyed.  I didn't dare to hope, but I hoped anyway.

Another car was coming up fast behind me.

Again, the vehicle stopped just in time.  His lights were very bright.  He 
turned on his flashers and got out of the car.

He was driving a large pickup truck.  He came up to the window and asked me 
if I needed help.  Yes, I said, I do.  He went to the front of my car and 
checked underneath, then came back and told me he would push me up to the 
pull-out area.  He told me he would not hurt my car - he knew it was a 
classic and he respected it.

He slowly pulled his truck up until it just touched my car and slowly pushed 
me 1-2 mph up to the pullout area and to SAFETY!

Just after we got there, the Highway Assistance vehicle arrived.  After 
making sure I was OK, my Good Samaritan (I never got his name!) took off. 
The Highway Assistance officer checked me out, gave me a couple of gallons 
of gas, and VROOM, the engine started!

After thanking the officer, I drove to the next exit and pulled into the gas 
station there where I filled the tank -- 12 gallons!

The Glenn car and I arrived home safe and sound about ten minutes later, 
with only a few minor scratches on the rear deck lid as evidence of our near 
brush with disaster.

Somewhere out there is a kind stranger with a big pickup truck.  I just want 
to say,



All that was last night, October 1st.

Today is October 2nd, the birthday of the Corvair.

Today I took the Glenn car out for a spirited drive on the local country 
roads.  Just me and the car, with the top down, wind blowing in my hair.

Happy Birthday, Corvair!!!

It feels Damn Good to be alive!

Bill Hubbell

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