Alternative Corvair Cooling, 1993.


When I got started building flying Corvair Engines in 1989, one of the most persistent old wives tales about the Corvair said that the engine cold never be operated without the cars blower fan, it just simply couldn’t cool itself in a plane. I knew that was a myth, and later I had a chance to show that even a car didn’t need one.



Above, my 1967 Corvair Monza, the only car I own through most of my years at Embry Riddle and the first years of my work in aviation. The picture above was taken at the Spruce Creek fly-in outside of Daytona Beach. I worked there for many years, and was eventually the EAA-288 chapter president. Parked next to a P-51 is appropriate; GM owned 51% of North American Aviation when Mustangs were built. That is why the first engine in A models was a Allison V-1710. GM owned 100% of Allison into the 1990s.



Driving back from NJ to Florida after Christmas, the blower bearing on my Corvair let go in South Carolina, and the magnesium fan broke itself to bits on the shroud. I pulled into a Walmart to assess the damage; It was MacGyver time.  The cardboard box is a forward facing scoop, it is braced with ropes. The round waste paper basket funneled the air into the cars cooling shroud. Note the throttle linkage going through the bucket (kind of draggy) engine cover fit in the back seat by 1/4″.



Ok, so the prototype wasn’t very pretty, but what do you expect from a guy that looked like that?  The system worked great, and drove the 400 miles back to Daytona without a hitch. No generator, but it didn’t need one to operate the ignition for hours. I could put my hand in front of the heater outlet and the air poured through, even with the ventilation fan turned off. The air wasn’t nearly as hot at the defroster. The only issue that it had was driving the 2 miles from I-95 exit 262, past the Speedway to our house, 1235 International speedway Blvd. , pictured above. The car didn’t like sitting at the 6 stop lights. Even with such experience, I had 10 more years of people telling me that the engine would never cool itself in a plane without a blower fan.




About William Wynne
I have been continuously building, testing and flying Corvair engines since 1989. Information, parts and components that we developed and tested are now flying on several hundred Corvair powered aircraft. I earned a Bachelor of Science in Professional Aeronautics and an A&P license from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, and have a proven 20 year track record of effectively teaching homebuilders how to create and fly their own Corvair powered planes. Much of this is chronicled at and in more than 50 magazine articles.

11 Responses to Alternative Corvair Cooling, 1993.

  1. Sarah Ashmore says:

    I do not recall anyone thinking the VW engines needed any sort of big cooling fan and shroud arrangement when adapted to aircraft and it worked fine in that application as far as cooling for the most part. Since the two are very close in configuration it is fair to guess a similar outcome for the Corvair with a proper air inlet and outlet design. The Corvair is not even that much different from all those air cooled aircraft engines used for decades so why expect an special adaption from the car to be required in an aircraft. I would think that fan and shroud was added to allow for extended time with the car not moving, stuck in traffic and such. Once up to driving speed just a good cooling shroud is all it takes just like we do with our cowlings and your “Test” with the car showed that rather well. After all if you were to take a modern automobile engine and use it in an aircraft would you feel compelled to use the catalytic converter in the exhaust just because it was required for the car?

  2. Dan glaze says:


  3. Earl Brown says:

    And the intake is not actually touching the car- reducing drag! very nice!

  4. Harold Bickford says:

    In auto use, the Corvair, VW, Porsche et al use cooling fans for stop and go travel. In that application keeping the fan makes sense. Aero use, well normal air cooling practice makes sense. The Horten III did use a converted VW with fan as did Bernie Pietenpol with his Corvair though that doesn’t mean it was necessary. It seems that the cooling fan necessity is part of the mythical knowledge base that so many use who believe the Corvair is a bad choice. I’ve lost count of the number of folks who insist that the Corvair is a 4 cylinder(!), heavy, high rpm only engine with no torque. That it is a six cylinder engine totally comparable to an O-200 is a revelation once past the hyperbole of “I knew a guy that heard”.
    CC#39 coming up and looking forward to being there.

  5. Bob 'early builder' Dewenter says:

    William, who is the young, short haired, intelligent looking man is standing behind your car ?

  6. Dennis McGuire says:

    What about being stuck in bumber to bumber traffic ?

  7. Jim Ballew says:

    In 1988 and 1989 I flew my DA-2A to oshkosh and both times was told by several people that my engine would overheat without a fan. I had just flown from Oklahoma to Wisconsin with 200 to210 oil temp and 325 to 350 cylinder head temp Jim

  8. jaksno says:

    Well done! Hope you sent this in to Red Green.

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