• Dec 9th 2006 at 2:27PM
  • 8
Here's a totally different flavor of Corvair that wasn't mentioned in our recent Reader Ride feature. The Ultra Van is a true Corvair, according to the Corvair Society of America (CORSA), even though it didn't roll off a GM assembly line. The Ultra Van is more akin to a cabin cruiser on the inside and a DC-10 in construction, with a happy-looking front-end, to boot. In case the picture has somehow left you scratching your head,UltraVan really is is a motorhome.

Power comes from a Corvair drivertrain and the structure is made from aluminum ribs with an aluminum outer skin, creating a rigid tube. The interior looks an awful lot like something you'd see in a Chris Craft of the same era. Without a frame underneath to get in the way, there's a ton of space in these things! The similarity to aircraft construction is no accident. UltraVan designer David Peterson was an aircraft designer frustrated that he had both a camping trailer and boat that he wanted to use during the same trip. In essence, the UltraVan grew out of the idea of just putting a drivetrain into a trailer. The Corvair had just debuted at the time, offering the perfect power unit for this application. The vehicles ended up being light enough to use regular car tires and return respectable fuel economy despite their large size (efficiency always makes you feel smarter than the next guy). We can't get over how roomy the UltraVan is, nor how lovingly the legacy has been cared for by legions of admirers.

Of course, we want one.

[Source: The UltraVan page via Hemmings Auto Blogs]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      Sweet looking Ultra Van. I've heard of the Ultra Van, but I've never seen one in person. It's a shame that the Corvair was discontinued when it was, in 1969, for I love the rear-engine design of the car, and the boxer six engine. Even if they discontinued the car, they should've at least kept building the air-cooled boxer engine. I can imagine the vehicles that would've benefited from its installation. Imagine also the upgrades one could have done if one could get their hands on an Ultra Van. Are Corvairs dangerous? Not as dangerous as Ralph Nader made it out to be. It's all a matter of how a person drives the car. If you drive recklessly, then you'll get into an accident. But if you drive the car carefully and no reckless movements, then you should make it to your destination safely. :)
      • 8 Years Ago
      I can't wait to see what Brabus can do to it.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Will this sucker float...and does it have an practical marine use ie. Like an Amphi-Car ?

      Wilson Wright
      Tallahassee, Fl
      • 8 Years Ago
      "....... even though it didn't roll off a GM assembly line."
      Most of them didn't, but rather went down the road a short distance before they rolled. RIP, Ernie Kovacs!
      • 8 Years Ago
      The web site says somewhere that this is the best vehicle ever.

      I wholeheartedly agree.

      When was it that Americans forgot the original appeal of having a car, which was the freedom to see this whole beatiful country, and got totally caught up in passing styles and pointless horsepower? This car represents much fun and many beautiful sunsets, and is affordable to the average working family. What does the average car in dealer lot represent, other than A) a reliable way to get to work B) something to try to impress others or C) Something that's so damned luxurious that you miss the scenery for the car you're in.

      As a side note, my roommates and i used to own a $500 C-class RV a while back in Seattle..it was great fun, we would go pick up 20 people and have rolling parties like every other night :P Never had so much fun in any sort of vehicle in my whole life!
      • 6 Years Ago
      In reference to the Corvair UltraVans. Yes, we saw our first, and possibly only, Ultra in early 1970's. We dreamed of owning one for nearly 40 years! Since that time, we have owned at least one of every type camping rig built except a pickup camper mount. After retiring to Florida, we forgot about those funny lookin things. Then, while parked in our local Chiefland, Fl. Wal*Mart, one parked about 50 feet in front of us. A surprising turn of events followed. No, we didn't buy that one. #424 wasn't for sale at any price.We were told they were rare and we wouldn't find one on this Coast. Within days, we discovered UltraVan #481 only 7 1/2 miles from home. Altho it was passed to the original South Florida owner's son then a friend of ours, it was never used in many years. It is not perfect, yet very original. We stretch the truth saying we are the second owners since no one else has licensed it! Actually, we haven't either, as yet. Our son is installing a new torque converter seal and tuning it up. Hopefully Wally, as we call him, will be roadworthy by Summer of 2009! Most Ultras seem to have a name. We couldn't think of anything fitting. It is easy to figure why we named him Wally!
      • 5 Years Ago
      Mal Fuller obviously doesn't know the facts. Ernie Kovacs plowed his station wagon into a power pole while trying to light a cigar.
      • 7 Years Ago
      That is my Ultra Van in the photo.

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