Weird & Wonderful No 1 – Chevrolet Corvair Futura Concept

The first in what will hopefully be another little series, featuring the weird, wonderful, unique and just a little wacky…

The Chevrolet Corvair Futura Concept

Corvair-concept4Corvair-concept2 Corvair-concept3Corvair-concept5 Corvair-concept6 Corvair-concept-interiorCorvair-concept-interior2When we first saw pictures of this ‘Futura’ concept, I thought it looked a bit like an angular Multipla and certainly had the feel of some of the chopped Multipla Beach Cars. However this isn’t a carefully preserved concept car designed by the factory but is a one off made by an enthusiast.

Not a great deal seems to be known about it. The design, it would appear is based on some drawings produced for Kaiser Aluminum in the late 50’s. To persuade the American Auto Industry to use more aluminium, car designers Frank Hershey and Associates were commissioned to produce a portfolio of aluminium car designs to feature in promotional literature. The designs included a targa-top convertible and a station wagon. The one design that stood out was for The ‘Waimea’ a sort of van cut down to station wagon height. The design was credited to a Rhys Miller.

So lets jump forward to the mid 90’s when a slightly eccentric gentleman called Harry Larson of Minnesota decided that after restoring 5 cars in wanted to create one. He had a file of the Kaiser Ads from the  60’s, pulled out the Waimea and set about constructing one. He started with a Corvair Lakewood Sportswagon from 1960. 49524030333_07062f1af6_b

The Waimea was designed to give the driver as much vision as possible and so had the driver sitting in the middle with centre steering and a fully enclosed glass front area and glass sunroof. The car turned up at shows in Minnesota in the 90’s but then disappeared to be put up for sale on eBay a few years ago. In 2013 it was apparently brought by Wayne Carini from the TV programme Chasing Classic Cars, although it hasn’t featured in any of the programmes that I’ve seen. In 2014 Wayne wrote in an article for Hagerty called Buyer’s Remorse…

“Another car I have mixed feelings about is the Kaiser Aluminum Corvair Futura. It started as a Corvair Greenbrier Sportswagon, but has center steering and an all-new nose with stacked headlamps. When you’re talking about a one-off concept car, there isn’t much you can do with it. They’re rarely fully developed for driving, there are few eligible show classes and they only attract a special kind of buyer. I’m not thrilled about the purchase, because I don’t know what to do with it now that it’s mine.”

CariniIt isn’t known if Wayne still owns the car or if he has sold it where it has gone. Despite quite a bit of research this was all the info I could find and the only pictures, which appear to come from the original eBay posting.

Update July 2021 – Thanks to lifelong Corvair nut Danny D’avis for some updated information.


‘Operation; Mystery!’

‘Kaiki Daisakusen’ or ‘Operation; Mystery!’ was a Japanese TV series made in 1968-69. Recently rereleased in Japan on DVD the show followed the Science Research Institute (SRI) a special police department set up to investigate ‘strange phenomenon’ – the X-files many years before it was conceived in the US!

The SRI team had a brilliant car…custom4

Based on a Subaru Samba 360, the van version of Mario’s little brother Nippy.nippy

This fantastic futuristic vehicle was used extensively in the series and was known as the ‘Tortoise’. There is no information as to whether this unique Subaru still survives.

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Although like most good TV shows there appears to be merchandise available, laser discs, 45″ singles of the theme tune  and of course toy cars, which give a clearer view of the cars innovative design.

16044sonosheet_10 SP-KaikiDaisakusene0096346_20861 KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAThe series was filmed on the streets of Tokyo and there where lots of other great Japanese cars which are now classic that appeared in the background, a Honda 600, Toyota 2000GT, Nissan Fairlady, Toyota Sports 800 and amazing a car chase with a RHD Japanese spec Renault Caravelle which must have been unusual at the time.i096820i096805i096889 i096809Maybe this could be a future ‘recreation’ project!

TV appearance by a very famous taxi…

Following on from his appearance in the Telegraph, Mario was very excited to be contacted by Aurora the company that produce the television coverage and DVD for the Revival. Traditionally the shows presenters Amanda Stretton and Steve Rider arrive at the circuit by an interesting form of transport and this year they wanted Steve to ‘arrive’ in Mario. Obviously with Mario being such a shy and retiring beast he took nano seconds to say yes!

DSC02679 DSC02682 DSC02686We started filming on Thursday evening when the roads were quieter to get some ‘driving’ footage. James stepped in as Steve’s ‘body double’ sitting in the back while we drove back and forth past the Trundle up at the race course. One of the camera crews was positioned at the top of the hill and the other on the sharp bend. Mario, linked to the crew by radio, just had to wait for a suitable gap in the traffic and then cruise smoothly past. The crew didn’t seem concerned that we were shooting on a sunny evening when the forecast for the rest of the weekend wasn’t good, the technology would take over later and when the footage was mixed together it would all look alright we were assured. For continuity I agreed to wear the same hat and fur stole on both days we would be shooting.


Steve arrived at the circuit on Saturday morning and the film crew started fitting up Mario with five Go-Pro cameras, three inside to film Jane driving and Steve sitting in the back plus two on the outside to capture Mario on the road. Steve is a lovely chap and after many years presenting sport on the BBC and ITV very professional, he personally owns a Fiat 500 and so was very interested in Mario.

With the cameras fitted and activated we set off to drive around the local roads while Steve gave his opening lines before pulling into the circuit and then coming to a halt at the taxi rank. The crew were waiting for us and after removing the Go-Pro’s set up to film the coming to a halt sequence from several angles within the Taxi Rank.DSC02882DSC02886DSC02889DSC02894DSC02896DSC02897DSC02903DSC02905Due to some technical problems we had to do an extra run with one of the external Go-Pro’s and some more footage of Steve’s introduction with a sound man onboard, in all we were filming for about 3 hours over the two days for a sequence which will be just under a minute of the 45 minute TV programme which was broadcast tonight Thursday 26 September on ITV4 and repeated later on ITV1. It was amazing at the amount of work and effort that went into such a short piece of film and how much footage was destined for the ‘cutting room floor’ but was us it was a new experience and an honour to be part of the programme.

We’ve just watch the programme and we were delighted with how the intro turned up, it’s interesting trying to work out which bits were shot where and how cleverly it has all been fitted together, a great job – the rest of the programme wasn’t bad either!