Chev Corvair Yenko Stinger

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Chev Corvair Yenko Stinger

Yenko Stinger

1966 - 1969
Aircooled Flat 6
220 bhp @ 5500 rpm
4 spd. MT
Top Speed:
100+ mph
Number Built:
5 star
Yenko Stinger
Reviewed by Unique Cars and Parts
Our Rating: 5


In 1966, Don Yenko was impressed enough with the late model Chevrolet Corvair's handling, and decided to apply for SCCA approval of the Corsa model for racing. The sanctioning body approved the cars with back seat removed and upgrades to the Corsa engine increasing horsepower and torque.

The 100 1966 Corsas that received certification were all painted white with blue striping, and were named "Yenko Stinger". Yenko continued to modify Corvair coupes as Stingers for the rest of the car's production run. The last Stinger was a 1969 coupe, after which Corvair production ceased for good at Willow Run, Michigan.

When the Camaro entered the pony car fray in 1967, Yenko transplanted Chevrolet's 7 litre 427 cubic inch 425 horsepower (317 kW) L-72 engine (along with other high-performance parts) and created the Yenko Camaro. The 1967 & 1968 427 Camaros were so popular that, in 1969, Yenko used Chevrolet's Central Office Production Order (COPO) system to have L-72 engines installed into Chevrolet Camaros, Chevelles, and Novas on the factory assembly lines.

In 1971 Yenko sold the Chevrolet Vega Yenko Stinger II with a modified Vega aluminum-block 2.3 inline 4 with a turbocharger and 155 hp. Chevy did not take the hint on its marketing potential as neither the Yenko-requested higher-compression engine blocks nor factory equipped turbo engines were ever built. The Stinger II was offered from Yenko Chevrolet through 1973. The high performance and limited production of all Yenko-modified cars makes them valuable and prized to collectors.

Sports Car World, January 1967 Review

I HAVE seldom felt so compactly safe in a production car - it cornered fiat with mild and predictable final oversteer, stopped clean and had the torque to get out of trouble. An exotic and expensive Continental classic? No, just a little old Corvair that some people still call unsafe. Admittedly the bright blue stripes over the top indicated more than show. The Yenko Stinger is not stock Corvair? 100 percent American though it be.

The genesis of this rather gaudy goer is SCCA racing, where you are classified on "potential" instead of capacity. That way a 2.7 litre push-rod Chevy can find happiness against reasonable opposition. Against a TR4, an MGB or a Porsche 911? Well, that's D Production for you and what's more the Stage III Stinger, specifically built for that very division, is cleaning up. Small wonder I jumped at the chance for even a Stage I trial. Mr Yenko is obviously on to something here, based on the already-tweaked Corvair Corsa, and he's built 100 to prove the point.

One hundred is the cut-off point for SCCA racing and what's more you have to be a builder (like Ford, Ferrari or Joe's Pepper Tree). Yenko gets around that one by fairing in the rear quarter panes, adding his own plastic engine lid with spoiler lip and air flaps, removing the rear seat, affixing a piece of wood-grain plastic to the dash and two-toning the exterior (color keyed he calls it). Of course, it takes a little more than that to beat the other D Production cars, so with the Yenko Stinger you got a little more too, starting at roughly $3000 in the condition I tried and working up.

The basic Chevy has 140 (SAE) bhp - the Stage I Stinger has 160, a mild enough boost at 5500 rpm for comfortable road use. Point to point averages benefit more from its handling, needless to say. The stock four-carburettor engine is balanced and matched, cleaner exhaust headers added and straight-through mufflers with steel wool packing; you get a seven-quart finned alloy sump, new carburettors jets to bypass surge in the bends and heavy duty main bearings. Corvairs have oil coolers anyway. To go with these Yenko adds his own springs and rebuilt shock absorbers, leaving the wheels and brakes alone. This may or may not be wise. A limited slip diff and choice of final drives, with normal gearbox ratios, wraps up the key items. Oh yes, and a spring-loaded fan pulley to keep the right-angle belt in place.

Stage II and Stage III Stingers

To give you an indication of his standing with big daddy, Yenko can do all this and still pass on the full Chevy warranty on any Stage I car. That's pretty rare faith from the world's largest firm for a tuning operation - but then Chevy probably doesn't mind people seeing that Corvairs don't fall over in a light breeze either. Before taking this package on the road I might mention that Stage I is a mild start. In Stage II you get all this plus cam and valve springs, lighter flywheel, modified fan, notched pistons, fitted piston skirts and 10 to 1 compression. This so-called road/rally model lacks Chevy's guarantee but it produces 190 bhp for some $360 over the basic Stinger price.

Stage III is SCCA/D Production with 10.5 to 1 heads, honed cylinder walls, fully-floating pistons, special distributor and plenty of loving assembly for 220 bhp. Stage IV isn't even allowed in US races but in case you have a yen for the ultimate sting, roughly $3800 or so will buy 240 bhp, including an overbore. The chassis is up to it. As a road car, the nicest thing about a Stage I Yenko is its tractability when puttering about town. With the back seat replaced you can even carry four somewhat cramped, though I'd set the semi-bucket front seats back for more arm stretch and to hell with passengers. That quibble and the reduced rear-quarter vision are the drawbacks - bucket seats, a Yenko option, would reduce at least one of them.

Plus factors include the usual Chevy Corvair floor shift with taut gate and quick pattern - though the 2nd gear to 3rd gap is too large the 1st gear to 2nd space is too close as it stands now. Steering is quick enough for GT travel, if not racing in Stage I, pedal arrangement is ideal. The car already has speedo and tacho plus vacuum gauge, fuel and oil temperature dials and a clock in a matt black surface and you can do as Arutunoff did and add a leather wheel muff to complete the picture.

To illustrate what I mean about that box, carrying the short back axle as a hillclimlb and tow car the Stinger here would do 35 mph in first gear, 45 in 2nd, 68 in 3rd and near as indicated 100 in top. You aren't likely to find much open space around Europe to go faster than that anyway, but the standard 3.55 rear end (3.89 fitted) would give better cruising. As it is, the Yenko returns better than 24 mpg driven good and hard, a reasonable figure for a nearly 3-litre tuned engine. Along with that even-ton top speed from a short rear end you get a 0-60 potential with two aboard of 12 seconds in normal street rubber, and observing the red line scrupulously. Actually the car will go over 5500 briefly without causing any expensive noises.

The brakes proved entirely up to hard open-road driving but I didn't have the car long enough to descend an alp. Despite no booster and hard linings the pedal is progressive and so soft you first suspect mild boost. Fie on you, Nader. At the expense of a very little more bouncy ride Yenko has proven that the Corvair is anything but inherently instable. In fact, it has all the potential of a first-rate travel companion for reasonable money. And just think how those blue stripes will attract dolls, small boys and motorcycle cops. - Sloniger.
Yenko Stinger

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