Can this home-built 4×4 Corvair wagon conquer the Rubicon Trail?
Even 60-odd years later, the Chevrolet Corvair remains an impressive feat of engineering. Taking one down the Rubicon Trail, however, sounds like pure insanity. Matt Winder has no such reservations with his Corvair, but his Lakewood wagon is far from stock. Winder could still be out of his element despite the custom work, but if we were betting people, we’d say he gets through with no problem.
Winder is best known for the off-road towing and recovery company he runs. He films recoveries and uploads the videos to YouTube for those of us who are stuck at home, resigned to live vicariously through others’ off-road escapades. As his channel grew he began the project of custom-building a 1961 Corvair Lakewood to act as a backcountry rescue vehicle. The project took roughly seven months and, by the time Winder finally set down the welding torch, the humble rear-engine wagon had transmogrified into a full-frame, roll-caged, V-8-powered off-road machine. And where do you take badass off-road machines?
To the trails, of course.
Matt teams up with a few friends to tackle California’s Rubicon Trail. The Corvair wagon, dubbed “Morrvair,” appears to be the most hardcore ride of the group, which includes a Toyota Tacoma and stick-axle Jeep Cherokee. Interestingly, Matt points out that the Rubicon has a vehicle-tipping reputation that it may not entirely deserve.
“If you are a decent wheelperson, you’re not gonna flop. The chances of bashing in your differential or bending a tie rod, that’s where the danger is,” says Matt while setting up the first camp on the four-day trip.
In the end, the Morrvair handles everything the trail can throw at it with aplomb. A rear shock comes loose, but that will be an easy fix once back in the shop. Another of the group’s vehicles broke an axle and kinked its driveshaft, making the highway drive home a shaky affair. In fact, the only recovery required in this video was of a high-centered four-door sedan that Matt discovered on the road while headed for a gas station. That sounds like a successful weekend of off-roading in our books.