Fully Restored 1961 Corvair Rampside Joins the N.C. Transportation Museum’s Automotive Collection
Release date: 5/11/2011
SPENCER – The newly restored 1961 Chevrolet Corvair Rampside truck was dedicated in memory of two Corvair enthusiasts during a May 1 ceremony at the N.C. Transportation Museum.
The North Carolina chapter of the Corvair Society of America (CORSA/N.C.) played a leading role in the project, collecting donations from its members through the Cecil Miller/Paul Bobo Memorial Fund. Miller and Bobo were charter members of the club.
The ceremony focused in large part on the legacy of Miller and Bobo, who both passed away in 2010. CORSA/N.C. Club members had searched for a way to honor the two men who had contributed so much to restoring and maintaining Corvairs. Club member Willard Moody said that when the idea of restoring the 1961 Corvair Rampside was considered, “It was a perfect match.” By displaying the vehicle at the N.C. Transportation Museum, the restoration was seen as a lasting and appropriate way to honor Miller and Bobo.
The ’61 Rampside will be unique to the museum’s collection, with features rarely seen in a vehicle today. The truck engine is located in the rear, sitting under a hood in the truck’s bed. As the name implies, a large, fold-down ramp is located on the side of the bed and hinged at the bottom, allowing large equipment to be rolled into the truck.
Thomasville resident and active automotive volunteer Bruce McKeon served as the project manager on the Corvair Rampside’s restoration, with considerable help from his fellow CORSA/N.C. members.
“I saw the Corvair sitting in (storage),” McKeon said. “I walked around it. The tires were soft. It looked pretty sad. But it was really quite a solid vehicle.”
The N.C. Transportation Museum has been fortunate to receive donations of many vehicles that represent the state’s unique transportation history. With limited resources, though, vehicles which are accepted and are not in exhibit-quality condition, as was the case with the Corvair Rampside, may not be restored and exhibited immediately. Over the past two years, the Museum has recruited an enthusiastic corps of volunteers, who have been making great strides with many of the vehicles in the collection.
When McKeon mentioned the Rampside to Bob Hopkins, Chief of Museum Exhibits, who coordinates the automotive volunteer program, McKeon’s enthusiasm was obvious. “Bob saw a live wire and he encouraged it,” McKeon said.
It took some vision to see through the vehicle’s deterioration. Not driven since 1997, extensive work was required to bring the Rampside back to life.
Moody, chairman of the Memorial Fund, coordinated much of the repair, according to McKeon, “orchestrating what to do and in what order.” Most of the work took place in Moody’s Davidson County garage, the Corvair Center. Jason Gibby, a Deputy Sheriff with Davidson County was involved, along with Billy McCall and Barry Owens, who did work to the patch panels. Armando Perez did a lot of body repair and worked especially hard to get the dents out of the well-used truck bed.
Salisbury’s auto repair businesses also got involved. Rouzer Auto Parts donated the paint for the Rampside, while John Ware at Bob Ware’s Radiator Center, helped with work to the fuel tanks. The most difficult part of that work, however, may have been in simply locating the part. Three fuel tanks were found and discarded before a fourth tank, repairable and usable, was found. Clark’s Corvair, a parts house, was also extensively used for vehicle parts.
During the dedication ceremony, Bob Hopkins said this is the first time a vehicle has been restored off site, and it’s a great example for the other vehicles in the collection.
Roy Johnson, president of the N.C. Transportation Museum Foundation, pointed to the rail equipment, the DC-3 airplane being restored in the nearby Back Shop, and the Corvair Rampside displayed for everyone attending. “All of these things are important to tell the story of transportation,” he said. With the help of CORSA/N.C., the Corvair Rampside will help fulfill that mission.
The N.C. Transportation Museum, located in historic Spencer Shops, the former Southern Railway repair facility is located just five minutes off I-85 at Exit 79 in Spencer, N.C., and about an hour from Charlotte, Greensboro or Winston-Salem. The museum is part of the Division of Historic Sites and the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources, the state agency with the mission to enrich lives and communities and the vision to harness the state’s cultural resources to build North Carolina’s social, cultural and economic future. Visit www.nctrans.org for more information. For information on the Department of Cultural Resources, call (919) 807-7385 or visit www.ncculture.com.
# # #
Division of State Historic Sites, N.C. Department of Cultural Resources