The Last Rampside?
My quest to find the last-produced Rampside made significant progress with the discovery and acquisition of #111819 in the spring of 1999. This truck was 36th from the end of '64 FC production, and might very well be the last one produced, given how many more Corvans and Greenbriers were produced (851 vs. 6,201 vs. 8,147).
I am the fourth known owner of this Rampside. The third known owner was Kevin Britt of Las Vegas, NV, from whom I purchased the rig on 7 April '99. Kevin bought the truck on 23 January '88 from Norm Ammerman of Whittier, CA. Norm had owned the truck since 4 August '77, when he purchased it from Arvin Mutsch of Placentia, CA.
In a major case of "it's a small world, after all", Mr. Ammerman, now living in Murfreesboro, TN, contacted me in late 2013 after his brother found this page and alerted him about his former Rampside. Norm reminisced:
"I had my driver's license at the time I bought it, having got the license on my 16th birthday in Dec '76. Mr. Mutsch worked at a Ford dealer at the time and offered to handle the title and registration for $75.
The purchase price was $1200. When I bought it, it had a late model turbo engine, a 3.89:1 differential, and a camper shell. It had already been repainted maroon with a white stripe by this time.
I drove it for about two of the 11 years that I owned it. An oil seal in the turbo failed. I eventually swapped in a 4-speed powertrain from a '63 convertible that I know was not original, because it had '66 or later heads and a stepped flywheel.
During the time I owned it, I tried to maintain it as best I could. I remember lubing the clutch cable with a 50/50 mix of transmission fluid and brake fluid and greasing the rear wheel bearings. I also had it repainted shortly before I sold it.
It was surprised to find this truck again after so many years. It sure hurt to sell it back in '77. It was the typical story: I didn't want to sell, but being single, owning three trucks, and needing a car, two of the trucks had to go. I remember it being everything you mention and more. Hope you're still enjoying it."
Unfortunately, Mr. Mutsch didn't tell Norm anything about the history of the truck. Norm suspects that Arvin was not the original owner.
The trim code confirms that this Rampside came equipped with the Custom Equipment option (RPO Z60, a.k.a. Deluxe package). Some of the Custom Equipment was still in place at the time of purchase: stainless windshield molding, tailgate reflectors, right sunshade, left front door armrest, and cigarette lighter. The paint code confirms that the truck originally had an extremely-unusual solid Black exterior (no stripe, code 500), the only surviving '64 Rampside known to have this color scheme.
The two-toned steering wheel was missing. Kevin said that the original steering wheel was not on the truck when he purchased it. The two-toned paint on the interior of the doors was changed to match the new color scheme but the original fawn color was visible in a few areas. The glovebox door trim plate was missing when I purchased the truck, having been replaced with a Spyder dash. I was able to track one down with some help. The correct original manual-tune AM radio and housing were not installed at the time of purchase but I procured the right pieces after a little searching. I transplanted a correct instrument cluster from a donor rig.
The original engine was long gone and Kevin kept the engine he had used in the rig. Linn Richardson provided a correct '64 FC core engine, which I rebuilt in 1999 with the help of several Corvairs Northwest members. The truck came equipped with a 4-speed transmission. The differential was a 3.89:1 ratio, which I exchanged for a 3.55:1 unit from another donor '64 FC.
Here are some photos Kevin sent me before I purchased the truck in early 1999:
I purchased the truck from Kevin without an engine. Fortunately, I was able to find a correct-year FC engine and called on the services of master mechanic Dale Stephens to help me rebuild and install it.
Here is a photo of the dash area after the radio was installed (May, 2000). The speedometer for 1964 Rampsides and Corvans was 80 MPH, as in previous years, but the shift points (2—3—4) were removed. Also, the deluxe (RPO Z60) glovebox door was just like the car except that there was no emblem (or holes for one).
The truck provided more than 12 years of faithful service, hauling everything from gravel to refrigerators, and was used by not just me but friends, fellow club members, and neighbors. By 2012, the engine was getting tired and the body was showing a lot of wear and tear, so I contacted Duane Wentlandt about restoring it to near-factory-original condition. This was a big decision, because once completed, I would essentially not own a usable truck any longer. I decided it was worth the trade-off, considering that it is the last-known Rampside produced; and that retiring my faithful truck and "putting it out to pasture" was the most-appropriate way to honor its special status.
In July, 2013, Duane began the restoration at his home shop in Oregon City, OR, about four hours south of me. I decided to "go for it" at last because the 2014 CORSA Convention is in Tacoma, less than an hour from me, sponsored by Corvanatics.
I had collected several boxes of parts over the years in preparation for the project. This photo shows the truck loaded and ready to leave my shop on July 7.
The truck had developed a lot of rust problems over the years. My climate is much wetter than the desert southwest, where it previously had lived. Here is one dramatic example, from the area between the ramp and the right rear wheel well.
Duane got busy and started patching all of the problems.
The battery box area was also a mess. Here's one photo of it, after the paint and bondo were removed. More photos of this area are below.
By early October, the body had been completely stripped and some areas were already in primer. Duane said he patched or welded over 240 holes. Most of the holes were rust-related but a fair number of them were man-made, to attach who-knows-what.
No, we're not painting the truck blue! Just more primer.
Duane wasn't spending all of his time on the body. He also spent many hours restoring and assembling parts. It proved to be pretty challenging to find five stock rims in good enough condition to use. From earlier pictures, you can see that the truck had aftermarket aluminum wheels when I bought it, and I had not changed them. Tires were also not super-easy to find. There are not many companies making the correct size with a whitewhall that is close to the right width.
By early December, Duane had finished some entire subassemblies, like the front suspension.
The engine received a complete disassembly and inspection, with some parts replaced and others freshened. Thanks to Regan Metcalf for his help and advice.
More pretty parts!
Another shot of the cancerous battery box.
Mel Carlson helped Duane sandblast the underside of the truck.
Duane pieced together the battery box from several sources, including some parts from Bill Jabs.
The interior looks almost ready for paint.
Duane painted the entire bed with a black primer so that it wouldn't rust. One of the most-visible departures in the restoration is the use of Raptor textured bed liner instead of plain paint.
Duane did most of the metalwork on the truck. Bill Lefever helped Duane with the doors. They were among the first items to get painted with Glasurit Jet Black.
Here's a close-up of the dash area, painted in the correct Fawn color.
By mid-March, the engine was reassembled and ready for testing.
I acquired another ramp some years ago, but it turned out to be in worse condition than the one on the truck, so Duane decided to cut out the rusted bottom section and repair it.
Black always brings out any imperfections in the body. Duane did a great job!
Here are a couple of more photos of the ramp work.
In late March, Jim Brossard visited Duane and brought back some "goodies", including a selection of the rusted areas Duane had replaced. I lined them up for some mug shots.
The other very visible departure from stock is the addition of a white stripe. In early April, Duane painted it, using the correct Off-White (aka Ivory) formula. This color seems pretty white to me—I wonder if the White color is even more saturated?
Installation of cab interior trim began as soon as the paint was dry.
No more oil smells from the heater!
The front brakes and suspension sure look sharp.
By mid-April, the engine was off the stand and re-installed in the truck.
These NOS taillight lenses are a lot less foggy than the worn-out orignals.
Duane took the truck outside on a sunny day in late May.
We worked with SMS Auto Fabrics to source the correct '64 Chevy truck custom (aka "deluxe") seat fabric and with Clark's Corvair Parts to create the correct upholstery, which also features fawn and white vinyl. Clark's has added this pattern (suffix AX) to their catalog.
The spare tire and jack look cozy behind the seat.
By early June, most of the truck was assembled...
...except for finishing the ramp.
Duane had an excellent used floor mat -- much better than the sorry mat I had, which had chunks missing. Note the hazard flasher mounted on the steer column support and the washer bag behind the radio.
When I bought the truck in 1999, it had aftermarket "West Coast" style mirrors. After removing all of the paint on the doors, Duane did not find any holes in the stock mirror locations, so this truck was sold without them--which was legal for trucks in 1964. We chose to use a set of the tasteful 5 1/4" round mirrors. Available documentation was not 100% clear, but it appears that they were painted the same color as the accent stripe, so that's why they are white and not black.
I secured a set of correct restored Washington truck plates from the Old License Farm.
The steering wheel on the truck was badly cracked. Larry Claypool supplied a nicer core, which Duane refinished in the correct two-tone "deluxe" scheme.
Duane also installed a correct oil bath air cleaner setup that I had purchased from him a numbers of years ago. I think it adds pizazz to the engine compartment!
I had purchased a used clock several years ago but it turned out to not be correct for the '64 model year. Amazingly, Duane found one this spring at the Portland Swap Meet.
Duane also installed a set of the correct seat belts. I researched this many years ago, and was able to purchase a set from Southside Automotive, which sells hard-to-find full-size Chevy parts. The correct belts for a '64 Rampside are the same as for the rear seat of a '64 Impala!
I finally got to see the truck in person on Independence Day 2014!
Behind the wheel for the first time in almost a year. It felt good!
Fellow Corvairs Northwest member Steve Martin graciously agreed to transport the Rampside back to my house, since the engine still needed to be broken in, and it's about 180 miles from Duane's house to mine.
The first show I attended was the 2014 All-Chevy Show at the XXX Rootbeer Drive-In in Issaquah, sponsored by the Pacific Northwest Camaro Club, on July 6. I was having some clutch adjustment issues so I arrived late and left early, and did not formally enter the event.
Even though I parked across the street in the overflow lot, many people wandered over and I had some nice conversations. I was lucky to park under a tree because it was hot that day!
My good friend Jean-Philippe Bran and his family visited us in mid-July. Here he is returning from a spin with his daughter Charline.
I did not enter the Rampside in the concours at the 2014 CORSA convention in nearby Tacoma, but I did enter it in the car display, where it won best in class on July 25.
I was honored to be chosen to transport the Grand Marshals for the 75th annual Derby Days parade in Redmond, Washington, on July 11, 2015.
Information from the data plate
Custom equipment, fawn interior
Black, solid color
(Click on a heading in the table for more information on that item.)