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Special delivery

by Bob Brought
(reprinted by permission from CORSA SC's May '99 newsletter)

I'd been looking for a nice rust free Rampside for a long time—(I still am). In the spring of 1993, I saw an ad in the Communique and called and talked to a fine gent named Dick "F". We talked several times before I agreed to buy the Rampside. Funny thing—he kept assuring me how good it ran and drove, but when I said I would fly to New Jersey and drive it home, he thought I was nuts. I responded that I wouldn't pay good money for a vehicle I couldn't drive home.

Well, I packed a few tools, a pair of freshly rebuilt carbs and Linda drove me to the airport. Dick lived in Far Hill, a well-to-do suburb of Newark. His home has been the chauffeur's quarters for a large estate. It had all the essentials for a comfortable abode for him and his wife—a kitchen, bath, bedrooms and an eight car garage with full attic above for parts storage. In addition to the Rampside I bought, he had a custom Rampside with carpeted bed tonneau cover and leather interior, a fully restored silver station wagon with red interior, two late convertibles and two late, late Cadillacs (his & hers).

I was a little disappointed when I saw the '64 Rampside. It didn't look quite like the vehicle Dick had described over the phone. The hole in the bed by the ramp door wasn't rust (I had been assured there was none). The hole was simply an absence of metal where the rust used to be. But it was gone now-just a hole, no rust! The "bullet hole" in the windshield was way over to the right, not in the driver's line of sight at all. I couldn't say it didn't run well because it wouldn't start. After we added some fresh gas to what may have been some original gas and installed my rebuilt carbs, it fired right up, but it died immediately when I put it in gear—did I mention it was an automatic? (If they only made eight hundred fifty-one '64 Rampsides, how many do you suppose were equipped with Powerglides? I'd sure like to know!) After I reminded Dick of how well he assured me it ran, he remembered that he hadn't installed the Dale distributor he had built for it. After we slipped that in with new cap and wires, it ran great.

Dick and his lovely wife treated me to a nice lunch on the patio (driveway between house and garage), took a couple of photos of me and the truck, gave me some concise directions to the freeway and we said good-bye.

It sure felt good heading south in my new Rampside with only 35,000 actual miles on the odometer and a fairly fresh "Sears Green" paint job. Dick had explained the previous (2nd) owner of the Rampside had said that the truck was bought new by Sears for use as an appliance delivery truck around Boca Raton, FL. Sears had it painted their custom color and the 2nd owner added the white belly band.

Anyway, I was cruising along about 60 MPH when the Powerglide down shifted to low gear—thank Ralph for seat belts! When I let off the gas, it up shifted and seemed fine. Hmmm! Hope it doesn't do that again! A few minutes later, guess what?! After I regained my composure and got out of traffic, I pulled off on to the shoulder, looked for obvious problems; vacuum line to crossover tube, vacuum line to modulator, throttle linkage—all looked okay. Flipped through the shop manual—nothing. My nearest ally was back in Far Hill, about 40 minutes and 10 turns back. Funny thing, directions never work as well when you try them in reverse.

I finally found Dick again, He said he hadn't owned many Powerglides and didn't have a clue as to what might be wrong. After a brief phone conversation with my friend and Corvair mentor, Mike Dawson in Kansas City, we zeroed in on three possibilities; governor, modulator, and fluid level. Dick felt so bad that he gave me a complete spare Powerglide to take parts off as needed. We swapped parts to no avail. The fluid level looked right, but I remembered a tech tip about calibrating the dipstick length. I had no idea how long it should be, but figured another pint of fluid couldn't hurt and might help—problem fixed!

Said good-bye again and headed south—only about 1,000 miles to go! Twenty-four hours later (some spent sleeping), I pulled into Mike and Maureen Moore's driveway to show off my new truck. The Moores seemed duly impressed even though the entire front end was fuzzy with 6 states' worth of bugs.

Although it wasn't quite as nice as I had hoped, I've never been sorry I bought it. It gets lots of looks and thumbs up on the road and it's the most useful vehicle I've ever owned. I've hauled a full pallet of sod, a large trencher, a big Toro riding mower, several big loads of mulch, lumber, dirt, rock, a cement mixer... Oh yeah, and a big box at Christmas time!

Information from the data plate

Trim code

Description

Paint code

Description

Delivery Date

Description

STD

Standard equipment

540

Turquoise, two-tone

None

N/A

(Click on a heading in the table for more information on that item.)

 

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