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From Rags to Riches

Kevin Thompson spotted this diamond in the rough in April, 1997. Kevin tells the story of his Rampside below:

"I am the third owner. The first owner owned the truck from late '64 until February of '97. The second owner, Nick of Nick's T-Birds (Panoramic City, CA) purchased the truck in February from the Red Cross car lot and subsequently sold it to me two months later. At that time the truck was last licensed in 1980 and the odometer read 9,080.

At the time I purchased the truck Nick had serviced it sufficiently to get it back on the road. This included flushing the gas tank, two rebuilt carburetors, filters, plugs, brake shoes and a couple of new lines. He advertised the truck in Hemmings as "Unmolested" and every bolt was still in place.

I flew from my home outside of Oakland, CA to Burbank Airport and was picked up by Nick in the truck. It looked awful! It had a white body with much of the paint missing, showing the red oxide primer. What was left of the bright metal was dull and pitted, but very straight. The tires were extremely old and were vintage 1960's skinny nylon blackwalls that had flat spots. The interior was red, terribly stained and brittle. It also ripped very easily. It was also obvious the previous owner smoked heavily. Everything in the interior had a greenish film on it.

A deal was struck at Nick's T-Bird shop and I purchased the truck, hoping to make it home to Oakland that day.

Prior to leaving Nick's yard we talked more about his operation and cars around. I noticed and old dilapidated camper and asked about it. He told me he took it off the Corvair and re-installed the ramp door. It became obvious to me that this camper must have been on the truck since new. The bed of the truck was pristine and the ramp door was as it left the factory. Even the top rubber piece looked new. I felt very lucky and knew this one was worth restoring. Nick knew it too and that's why he sold it. He was going to use it as a parts runner/beater but deep down did not want to do this to such an original truck.

I took off from Panoramic City and got about six blocks from Nick's and knew that the old clutch would not hold up on the hills home to northern CA. I quickly pulled out my phone and called Larry's Corvair to take the truck in that day. I arrived at Larry's and left the truck to have a clutch installed. I wound up flying home disappointed.

While the truck was being repaired, Larry's mechanics diagnosed a valve seat that dropped. The engine now needed a rebuilt head. Common sense overtook me and dictated that Larry rebuild the engine completely in order to make the trip home. Two months and $4000 later the engine and drivetrain were rebuilt and four new radials were installed.

I flew in and drove the truck home without a hitch. When I pulled into my driveway honking the horn, my wife and two pre-teen boys ran out. My wife looked horrified and the sight of it and my youngest son said "Dad, that's butt ugly". My wife could not see the value in the old relic and why someone would spend $4000 on something that looked so bad. The boys immediately realized the truck was different and "very tight".

I drove the truck for the next couple of months to make sure it ran fine. Only minor tuning adjustments were required. Once I was satisfied I began taking the truck apart, preparing it for restoration. The interior was redone, the steering wheel rebuilt, radio refurbished, and the body stripped and refinished professionally. While all the outsourcing work was being done I was busy restoring all the details.

Bottom line, I now have a very nice 1964 Rampside that I have driven over 12,000 miles in the last year. I have shown it twice with very favorable results. My goal was to make the truck as factory as possible. I was able to do this through the help of Larry's Corvair, Clark's, and Corvair Underground. I am grateful to all."

From the trim code we know that this Rampside was equipped with RPO Z60 (Custom Equipment, a.k.a. Deluxe). The paint code tells us the truck's exterior was originally painted Off-White (code 526, no accent stripe), so it is likely that it was sporting the original paint when Kevin bought it.

Information from the data plate

Trim code

Description

Paint code

Description

Delivery Date

Description

5Z60GB

Custom equipment, red interior

5526AA

Off-White (aka Ivory), solid color

None

N/A

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

 

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