Sparta Historical Society’s Seventh Annual Car show will take place Sunday, September 25. This free, family-friendly event will be held on the grounds of the Sparta Middle School and Van Kirk Homestead, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., with food sold by Sparta’s VFW. Local band Country Cousins will perform. And visitors will be able to vote for the People’s Choice Award.
Also stop by the Van Kirk Homestead, which is currently exhibiting its show “Vintage Waterfowl Decoys: America’s First Folk Art” and several permanent exhibits, including Early Sparta, Cooking, Edison, and Minerals. The free museum will be open from 12 to 3 p.m.
Most vehicles at auto shows prop open their hoods to display their shiny, powerful engines. But at the Sparta Historical Society’s Seventh Annual Car Show, you’ll see many unique vehicles with their rear lids open – the rear engine Corvairs built 1959-1969 and MotorTrend’s Car of the Year in 1960.
In the 1950s, Chevrolet Chief Engineer Ed Cole established an engineering research and development team to come up with “something completely different.”
What resulted from years of designing, testing, and challenging long-held beliefs was a small car with an air-cooled rear engine that had independent suspension and was aerodynamic and lightweight. It is rumored that Cole didn’t tell anyone outside of Chevy that he was developing this car until he met with the president of General Motors in 1957. Lucky for Cole, the president loved the project.
Many different body styles were sold: initially a sedan and a coupe, then a convertible, minivan, and a ramp-sided pickup truck; the sporty Corsa and Monza; and the stick-on-the-floor Spyder – which Cars Illustrated magazine in 1962 called a racecar driver’s personal car. Some of the most powerful turbocharged Corvairs were raced, with interior cages, rollbars, and driver harnesses for safety.
However, the car was plagued with issues. The initial rear independent suspension occasionally caused problems for non-professional owners driving them haphazardly, and although that was quietly modified to eliminate the roll-over, the Corvair was labeled “unsafe at any speed” by lawyer Ralph Nader and was used to illustrate the need for auto safety laws and federal oversight of the transportation industry. After some development, and additional road safety standards, the Department of Transportation in 1972 released a study stating that Corvairs were no more unsafe than any other contemporary American car.
Visit this free classic auto show and ask any Corvair owner for more details.