Chevrolet Corvair – 1960 to 1969

The Corvair was developed to compete against imports such as the VW Beetle and did so, very successfully for an eight year period. There is a host of other compacts as well including Porche and Fiat that had been taking a growing portion of N. American small car market away from the big three producers.The mass produced Corvair is the only rear mounted air cooled engine vehicle made by an American company. This budget priced compact is powered by a nearly all aluminum flat six engine developing 80 horsepower. Equipped with the three speed standard transmission, both the 569 and 769 series Corvair could be purchased for under $2,000.00. You could choose to order a gas heater for an additional $74.00 or the Powerglide automatic transmission for an extra $146.00. The car is a big success in 1960, but the introduction of a four speed had to be postponed until 1961 due to production problems.The Corvair was manufactured with a full range of body styles including a two door coupe, hardtop,  convertible, four door sedan, and a station wagon. This popular model was also available as a passenger van, commercial van, and pick-up truck with variations during its production run..

corvair© Tomatika | Chevrolet Corvair 700 Photo

From 1962 until 1964 the Corvair enters into the sports car market more competitively with the Monza Spyder which is equipped with either a Paxton or a Judson supercharger for the flat six engine . This is unusual for a 1960’s era American car,  although common in large trucks of the day.The supercharged Spider  will produce 150 hp at 4,400 rpm and develop 210 lb-ft of torque between 3,200 and 3,400 rpm while the supercharger only adds 30 lbs (14 kg) in weight. Chevrolet claims that the Spyder’s usable power is up over 90% from the base engine-this is only partly true at around 3,000 rpm; after which the torque drops considerably. The Spyder is available with the four speed manual transmission only.

interior1© Tomatika | Chevrolet Corvair 700 Photo

The second generation Corvair are in showrooms for 1965, looking better than ever. These models can be recognized by the absence of a “B” piller; not only giving a streamlined look but offers enhanced visibility as well  The Corvair Corsa comes with a full compliment of gauges including: head temperature, manifold vacuum pressure, fuel and analog clock. The new 140 mph (230 km/h) speedometer includes a trip odometer with a reset feature and the dash also holds an AM/FM radio. The Delcotron Alternator is a step up from the previous generator and all Corsa Corvairs now have larger brakes adopted from the Chevelle. The car is now riding on a fully on a independent suspension similar to the Corvette rather than than the predecessors swing axle design. The standard engine delivers 95 hp but the optional 110 hp version is still available as is the 140 hp unit with the four single throat carburetors. Both the 500 and the Monza could also be powered by the 140 hp engine with a choice of the four speed or the automatic transmission.  The Corsa turbo-charged engine option for 1965/66 achieves an apex for the brand and produces 180 hp (60kW). Your engine choice could be bolted to the three speed, a four speed or the Powerglide automatic transmission. The car can be equipped with the notable “Z17” handling package for the performance oriented. The optional package includes a high performance suspension and a closer ratio steering.

small;.© Tomatika | Chevrolet Corvair 700 Photo

 The beginning of the end for the Corvair came in 1965 when Ralph Nader, a lawyer and consumer advocate published a book called “Unsafe at Any Speed”. There are a half dozen or so cars that Nader viewed as dangerous and he said the Corvair had a serious potential to lose control particularly at high speed. The accusation was later proved to be inaccurate by a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration test, but the Corvair sales dropped off in ’66 and engineering modifications ceased about the same time. The sales were up to 350,000 units a year during the peak while the least number sold in any one year was 200,00. After Nader s book was published the sales dropped drastically with only 6,000 units sold in ’69 model year.


4 thoughts on “Chevrolet Corvair – 1960 to 1969”

  1. The article is incorrect. The Monza was the deluxe model with 110 hp (two carbs) or 140hp (four carbs) (’65 and later) with bucket seats and available 4-speed or automatic.The Monza Spyder was made in 1964 (gen one) and was equipped with a turbo charger making 150 hp and 4 speed trans only. The Corsa in 65 and 66 was the sport version (gen two) making 140hp with 4 carbs and 180 hp with a turbocharger and 4-speed only trans. All used the 164 ci displacement engine from 1964 up to 1969.

  2. John Griffith says:

    Where do you get your information? As the other comments say, the article is wrong from the first paragraph. The pictures are of a Monza, not a 700. The specs are all wrong and the model lineup is also completely incorrect. Check your facts before publishing these articles, please.

    1. John:
      I have pulled the article
      I will get back to you in 24 hours.

      Thanks, Ross
      Muscle Car Fan

      1. John
        The Corvair article was long and rambling-trying to cover too many bases without covering any adequately. I have rewritten it.I have included a link to 3 of the sources for information at the bottom of the article. We do only have a limited number of images available-so I used what we had.

        Thanks for your input, Ross

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