My Car Quest

August 16, 2018

The Corvair Sprint By Fitch – An Original Lost And Found

by Michael Gulett –

On the Post about the 1966 Chevrolet Corvair Corsa for sale here on My Car Quest, Byron LaMotte left an interesting Comment which started,

I am excited to see my favorite car site is acknowledging my other favorite car next to my Iso Grifo.

He then went on and wrote about the 1966 Corvair Sprint that he had built by John Fitch. Byron sold his Corvair Sprint, regretted it and bought it in back from the fifth owner in 2012. He then commissioned a complete restoration back to the original condition.

I asked Byron LaMotte to send in some photos, he did and here they are.

1966 Corvair Sprint by Fitch

1966 Corvair Sprint by Fitch in 1966 (Photo from Byron LaMotte)

1966 Corvair Sprint by Fitch

1966 Corvair Sprint as found in 2012 (Photo from Byron LaMotte)

1966 Corvair Sprint by Fitch

2013 – after the restoration (Photo from Byron LaMotte)

1966 Corvair Sprint by Fitch

2013 – after the restoration (Photo from Byron LaMotte)

John Fitch

John Fitch was not only a great race car driver he was also a great inventor.

John Fitch was the only American on the Mercedes-Benz racing team, he later served as the first manager for the Corvette racing team and he was the first general manager of the Lime Rock Park race track.

He was also a pilot in the US Army Air Corps during WWII.

He was an innovator in road safety – the Fitch Barrier (aka “Yellow Barrels”), the barrels filled with sand that we all see on US freeways are one of his inventions.

John Fitch had a special relationship with the Chevrolet Corvair.

The Corvair Sprint By Fitch

Corvair Sprint Advertisement

Corvair Sprint Advertisement

He liked the Corvair as a good starting point to build a high quality, yet low cost, American GT car. He called his modified Corvair the Sprint. The engine was modified to boost it from 140 hp to 155 hp.

The suspension was improved significantly, wheel alignment was improved, steering ratio was better plus there were a few cosmetic options that made the Sprint look more like a European car. He even installed a wood steering wheel.

Corvair Sprint Catalog

Corvair Sprint Catalog

The exterior was unique with the installation of the “Ventop” which made the Sprint look like a “Porsche 904 and Ferrari 275 LM” according to the sales literature.

If you are looking for a unique collector car the Corvair Corsa and the Corvair Sprint are great candidates.

John Fitch also designed and built a one-off car called the Fitch Phoenix based on the Corvair.

Car and Driver Magazine

The Corvair Sprint was on the cover of Car and Driver Magazine in September 1965

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Corvair Sprint by Fitch Catalog

Corvair Sprint by Fitch Catalog

More photos of Byron LaMotte’s Corvair Sprint are in the slide show below.

 

Let us know what you think in the Comments – I am interested in more stories like this – send yours in!

 

Corvair Sprint

Summary
The Corvair Sprint By Fitch - An Original Lost And Found
Article Name
The Corvair Sprint By Fitch - An Original Lost And Found
Description
John Fitch was not only a great race car driver he was also a great inventor. He improved the Chevrolet Corvair and called it the Corvair Sprint.
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Comments

  1. Into his late 90″s, Mr. Fitch would drive the one-off Fitch Pheonix at the annual Concours D”Elegance show in Greenwich, Ct, and this car just recently sold at auction within the last two months or so. Glenn in the Bronx, NY

  2. Don Meluzio says:

    Hi Byron, Great photos of a great car! Good story! John Fitch was quite a guy. It is so cool that you bought it back. It has to be quite rare. I talked to John Fitch about his days as a Bizzarrini Dealer. Thanks for sending in the story, and all the best to you. Don Meluzio

  3. Great story and wonderful to see this car restored to former glory. Fitch was a superman in the automotive world. Racer, builder, entrepreneur, and safety advocate for not just motor racing but multiple passenger car innovations and highway safety systems.

    A few years before he passed away, I had the pleasure of working with him on a scale model replica of both his one-off Fitch Phoenix and a series of Fitch Sprints (as featured above) with the company Automodello. Fitch was, just as he was in racing, gracious and detailed in the scale modeling of his cars.

    Byron – congrats on owning a wonderful piece of history and keeping it alive for all to enjoy.

  4. James Basden says:

    I have a 65 Sprint. It runs and drives and is well worth restoring. I have owned it since 1990.
    James

  5. I best friend’s Father bought one of the first Corvair Sprints in 1962 from Atwood Chevrolet in Bristol, CT. It was Honduras Maroon with black vinyl top and interior . 4 carbs with short throw shifter, Lucas Flamethrower headlamp with a wire screen over the front grill area, low restrictive exhaust and black racing stripes. He traded it in on a 1966 Super Sport 327 with powerglide.

  6. Arthur E. Lloyd III says:

    I had the pleasure of having a drink with John at the bar in Sardi’s in NYC when we were members of the same club and I certainly would like to buy one of his Corvairs. If anyone has one for sale please contact me at 908-209-2939. or e-mail me at: ArtLloydIII@aol.com

  7. Jeffrey Rosenberg says:

    I owned a 1962 Corvair Spyder Sprint by Fitch way back in the day. It was a great car that was upgraded with Porche suspension. I wish I still had it. I sold it for $150 when it was getting about 20 miles to the quart of oil.

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