The rear-engined, flat-six-powered Chevrolet Corvair may have been the most maligned car in history, but it wasn't nearly as bad as you might think considering the political flamewar it ignited. Now imagine one upfitted for V8 power and mid-engine stability.

That's the '65 Corvair "Crown V8" Mike Musto's driving on this week's /BIG MUSCLE. What's a "Crown V8" Corvair? Glad you asked.

The Crown Corv-8 conversion kit enables a small-block Chevy engine to be swapped into the space where a Corvair's back seat is supposed to be. Thus, instead of hanging out over the rear axle, like the flat six, the V8 could be positioned amidships, giving the '65-'69, second-gen Corvair (the earlier models' swing axle suspension can't handle it) something a little closer to 50-50 weight distribution.

Corvair devotee Ted Trevor produced the original Corv-8 kit during the late Sixties, but Corvair parts vendors still sell the components — including motor mounts and substructure — to people like Chuck Rust, who owns the V8 Corvair seen in this week's show. It's a big job, as everything from the steering wheel to the back of the car has to be removed, and large holes cut in the floor to fit the new transaxle in. You'd have to be a pretty big Corvair head, like Mr. Rust, to go for something like that.

But the results? How about the true, American mid-engine sports car from the '60s we always knew Detroit could have built.