The Chevrolet Corvair

1960 to 1969



 
On October 2, 1959, General Motors' Chevrolet division introduced the 1960 Corvair.
It was a new and radically different design for an American manufacturer. During the mid-1950s.
The Volkswagen Beetle had become popular with economy-minded drivers.
This caused GM to create an economy car to compete with it.

This new car was powered by an air-cooled six-cylinder engine, first for Chevrolet, it was referred to as a "flat six," since the cylinders were horizontally opposed. It was also mounted in the rear like the VW.
The 1960 model was offered in two body styles, a 2-door coupe and a 4-door sedan - available in two trim models.
Later that model year the "Monza" was added as the line continued to expand. In 1961 Chevy added a pair of vans, a pickup truck and a station wagon, all with the engine mounted in the rear. In 1962 came the first Corvair convertible, along with the first mass-produced American turbo-charged car, the "Spyder."
While early sales were promising for a while, the other large American manufacturers quickly challenged the Corvair with compacts of their own. Chrysler introduced the Dodge Lancer and Plymouth Valiant, while Ford countered with the Falcon and Mercury Comet. Even Chevy itself introduced a car to compete in the same market, the Chevy II.
Chevrolet introduced another sporty car in 1964, the Chevelle, and Ford unveiled the legendary Mustang. The end was near for the Corvair.
Then to make matters worse Ralph Nader's book "Unsafe At Any Speed" portrayed the Corvair as unstable and prone to rollover accidents. While many would attribute the failure of the Corvair to the book, the handwriting was already on the wall in the form of declining sales.
Interestingly, 1966 would have been the last model year, had the Nader book not drawn so much negative publicity. Even the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration had opened an investigation into its handling. There was simply no way GM could halt the line without appearing to "cave in" to the charges, so production continued, albeit in limited numbers, through the '67, '68 and '69 model years. Ironically, the NHTSA report, released three years after Corvair's demise, would exonerate Chevrolet of all charges, concluding that the Corvair was no more prone to accidents and rollovers than any other comparable car of the period.
After ten years of production throughout the decade of the 1960s, the last Corvair was 
built on May 14, 1969.
Was the Corvair a failure? It's a matter of opinion. General Motors produced nearly 1.8 million Corvairs over 10 model years. The Corvair pioneered such technological advances as turbo-charging, true four-wheel independent suspension and unit-body (or unibody) construction, and its independent suspension was adapted for later model Corvettes.
Perhaps the Corvair was a car that just couldn't find it right place in the automotive world.

For a more complete history and details of the Covair go to the web site of The Corvair Society of America

This page was last updated on Jan 4, 2017



 
1960's Corvair Air Cooled Cut-away Engine

 
 


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1960 Chevrolet Corvair
1961 Chevrolet Corvair Monza
   
1961 Chevrolet Corvair Lakewood Station Wagon
1961 Chevrolet Corvair Lakewood Station Wagon
1962 Chevrolet Corvair Monza Sedan
1962 Corvair 700 4 Door Sedan
   

1962 Chevrolet Corvair Monza GT Concept Car

1962 Chevrolet Corvair Monza and Corvette Ad
1962 Chevrolet Corvair Monza SS Roadster Concept Car
   
Click on this image for a larger view in a new window
Click on this image for a larger view in a new window
1963 Corvair Monza 2 Door Coupe
1963 Chevrolet Corvair Monza Spyder
  This car is owned by Jody Reeme
The car has a 150 HP. Turbo charged engine
They also own a 1949 Ford and a 1950 Studebaker 
Starlight Coupe. These are shown on this web site as well
1964 Chevrolet Corvair Monza Spyder
1964 Corvair Monza 4 Door Sedan
1964 Chevrolet Corvair Monza Spyder
   
1965 Chevrolet Corvair Corsa
1965 Corvair 500 Coupe
   
1965 Corvair Corsa Convertible
1965 Corvair Corsa Convertible
   
1965 Corvair Fitch Sprint
1965 Corvair Monza 4 Door Sedan
   
1965 Corvair Monza Convertible
1965 Corvair Monza 4 Door Sedan
   
1965 Corvair Corsa
1965 Corvair Corsa
1965 Chevrolet Corvair Monza 110 Coupe
1965 Corvair Monza
1965 Covair Monza Convertible
1965 Covair Monza Convertible
   
 
1965 Covair Monza Convertibl
 
 
1965 Covair Monza Convertible
The car was owned by Andy Romano of Crestline, CA
Andy had the following to say about this car.
"I enjoyed your web-site very much.
I'm attaching a jpg of my 1965 Corvair Monza convertible.
Well, it's not mine anymore, but I wish it were! I bought
it new in 1965, cost about $3,200 with "everything on it."
I drove it like crazy. It was like a Sherman tank in the snow.
You couldn't stop this car. No chains, just snow tires on
the rear and with that weight on the rear tires (and the
wire-wheel hubs) I plowed through some nasty Eastern
snowstorms... snow other cars couldn't begin to handle.
I only had one real bad issue with my Corvair...
the heater somehow sucked exhaust (or something that
smelled like exhaust) into the cabin. In cold winter
driving, you never knew if you were going to asphyxiate
yourself. I drove with the heater full-on and the windows
half-open! I think the heater air blew through the valve
chamber and picked up some of the gasses!
Oh, and once the clutch cable - the clutch was attached
to the pedal by a simple wire cable with a small steel
ball on the end. The wire wore through and snapped
just as I had started onto a highway in first gear... I
must have gotten up to maybe 15mph and was going to
shift into 2nd when it snapped! There I was, in the middle
of Rte 22 in Union, NJ with semi's whizzing by me at 50mph
and me doing 15! I pulled into the parking lot of a large
Hardware Store, scrounged up $1.50 worth of little parts,
jury-rigged the cable-clutch-pedal-connection in about
15 minutes and drove happily on my way :-)
Ahhh, the good ol' days!

Ralph Nader was (and still is) an idiot."

1966 Corvair Monza 2 Door Coupe
1966 Corvair Monza 2 Door Coupe
   
1966 Corvair Monza Convertible
1966 Corvair Monza Convertible
   
1966 Corvair Monza Sport Coupe
1966 Corvair Monza Hardtop Sedan
   
1966 Corvair
1966 Corvair
   
Click on this image for a larger view in a new window
Click on this image for a larger view in a new window
 
1966 Corvair
 
This picture was submitted by Marilyn Leffler, Westborough, MA The car belonged to her Aunt.
Click on this image for a larger view in a new window
Click on this image for a larger view in a new window
Click on this image for a larger view in a new window
Click on this image for a larger view in a new window
  1967 Corvair
  1967 Corvair
 These picture was submitted by James Smith, Joao Pessor,
Brazil. He had the following to say about this car.
"I autocrossed this car for 7 years.  In that time, I never lost to 
any American V8. That includes Mustangs, Camaros, Firebirds, 
and even an AMX.  My main competition was a Mini-Cooper, 
also somewhat modified. 
Even so, I went three years at one time without losing an
event. By the time this picture was taken (a scan of a Polaroid) 
it had been modified quite a bit.  But t was still one of the best
cars I ever owned. I had Corvairs of 1960, 1964, a 64
Greenbriar van, the '67 and a '66 I drove for work and
as an emergency source of spares for the '67."
1967 Corvair
1968 Corvair Monza Convertible
   
1968 Corvair Monza Convertible
1969 Chevrolet Corvair
   
1969 Chevrolet Corvair Monza Convertible
1969 Chevrolet Corvair Monza Sport Coupe
   
1969 Corvair Monza 2 Door Coupe
1969 Corvair Monza 2 Door Coupe
 
 
Click on this image for a larger view in a new window
Click on this image for a larger view in a new window
Click on this image for a larger view in a new window
Click on this image for a larger view in a new window
 1969 Corvair Convertible
  1969 Corvair Convertible
This picture was submitted by Marilyn Leffler, Westborough, MA 
The car belonged to her mother and was one of the last Covairs built. 
She said that it was built in the last hour of Covair production.
 
1969 Corvair Monza 2 Door Coupe
 
   
1961 Corvair 95 Rampside Pickup
1961 Corvair 95 Rampside Pickup
   
1961 Corvair 95 Rampside Pickup
1961 Corvair 95 Rampside Pickup
   
 
1962 Chevrolet Corvair 95 Rampside Pickup
 

 

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