10 February 2015

As “Unsafe At Any Speed” marks 50 years, Corvair values hit all-time high

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Ralph Nader’s book “Unsafe at Any Speed," in which the young Harvard-trained lawyer/activist did a serious hatchet job on what was a very interesting and unconventional American car. But the Chevy Corvair is clearly having the last laugh. Ironically, as the book turns 50, Corvair prices have reached an all-time high.

Although most people have come to believe that “Unsafe at Any Speed” was almost solely about the Corvair, it was actually Nader’s indictment of the level of thought that went into automotive safety design at the time. Blind-o-matic shiny chrome dashboard trim, impale-o-matic steering-wheel horn rings and sharp protruding buttons were common at a time when consumerism and automotive gimmickry were understood far better than vehicle safety.

Nader singled out the 1960-63 rear-engine Corvair for the design of its rear suspension and its lack of a standard anti-roll bar or camber compensator. Because the Corvair employed a semi-independent, swing-axle design — which lacked a universal joint at the wheel/hub end of the axle — excessive camber change during very extreme cornering could cause the rear wheels to tuck under and trigger a spin. Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen and Triumph used a similar design but were not targeted by Nader (probably because giant General Motors made such a tasty target in his eyes).

GM changed the suspension design to a more advanced fully independent one when the car was restyled for 1965. Respected enthusiast publications thought the 1965-69 Corvair to be one of the best-styled and engineered post-war American cars, with Car and Driver magazine’s David E. Davis Jr. among the most enthusiastic. Jay Leno has had a red Corsa coupe in his collection for years, and the rest of the collecting world seems to be catching on.

The price for just about every sub-model of Corvair is at an all-time high. The ultra-desirable turbocharged Corsa convertible that in 2006 cost about $15,000 in excellent condition now goes for about $20,000. Ironically, the humble-but-cute 1961 Corvair Lakewood station wagon is up just as much; an example in excellent condition that would have cost you about $7,400 in 2006 will now set you back about $12,800. In addition to the fact that Corvairs are good first-collectible cars — attractive, interesting and fun to drive — they have cross-over appeal; European car aficionados tend to view them favorably, with some even comparing them to early Porsche 911s (another car that has skyrocketed in value).

Although it’s unlikely that Corvair prices will truly follow in the footsteps of the 911, the much-maligned cars are only going to go up as more people realize that they offer a great combination of good looks, technical interest and value. With a plentiful supply of parts and strong club support, it’s a great time to grab a good Corvair before prices rise even higher.

65 Reader Comments

  • 1
    Tom NC February 11, 2015 at 09:58
    Shhh.. Don't tell anybody.. ):
  • 2
    Milan Kidders il. February 11, 2015 at 22:52
    I've owned 3 Corvairs in my time and Idid not have any trouble with any of them.In fact I THEY WERE SAFER than the VW BEETLE.
  • 3
    J. Michael Wood Saint Lucie Florida February 16, 2015 at 02:56
    In 1971 I purchased a 1965 corvair 140 convertible from the original owner, as a challenge against R. Nader. I then turned it into a "six time" show winning car, done in a european style to show its true potential.I still have this car today! I just took it out of storage to get it running again. I have re-engineered many things on this vehicle to bring out the potential this car could've been. In my pursuit to honor this little car you might say that I have "Ferrari-fied" this car and then named it "Corrari, " with six pack "webber carbs", custom built engine cases, big bore forged pistons, Sig Erson custom cam, external fan cooled oil-cooler, custom built cylinder heads, custom built exhaust system with real Ferrari Ansa mufflers, and twin tail-pipes on either side etc.With to many other things to mention. GM already had fuel-injection ready to go for this car, near its demise, but thanks to bad press, and Ralph Nader! Well, you know the rest... My personal thoughts were that this car was a poor mans "porsche, or ferrari" in disguise! On the professional scene, this car has won a lot of races against much more powerful cars. With modifications to the engine, and suspension etc, it could challenge the big boys of the time. Yes, you could say that I really loved this little car that just couldn't say no! " Thank You "
  • 4
    Mike MI February 18, 2015 at 14:02
    The first vehicle with a stick shift that I learned (or tried to) was a 1960 that my uncle had. To this day I think the Corvair was a beautiful design especially the 65-69.
  • 5
    Bruce Parker Mont Belvieu, Tx. February 18, 2015 at 14:41
    I love mine. Fun to drive and always an attention getter. It's good to see some attention brought to such a great little car.
  • 6
    Steve Spokane February 18, 2015 at 15:02
    driving in Los Angeles, the engine of my 1963 corvair actually "fell out". motor mounts failed. true story!
  • 7
    Steve United States February 18, 2015 at 15:15
    Owned a 66 Monza, white with blue interior. Drove it through High School and into my first job. It blew a piston at about 110 mph (in 1972), and my folks sold it while I was in Basic Training. Have wished that I still had it numerous times since.
  • 8
    Mack Ohio February 18, 2015 at 15:16
    I think it's time to raise the insured value of my 1965 Turbocharged convertible!
  • 9
    Pete Koehler Motor City USA February 18, 2015 at 15:41
    Best part of this story: Nader's book was $5.95 when released, but this copy was marked down to only a buck so the seller could get rid of it. How appropriate! What would you pay for fiction?
  • 10
    Mike Michigan February 18, 2015 at 15:59
    The first manual transmission car that I tried to learn to drive when I was 12 was a 60 owned by my Uncle. To this day, that car has always left an imprint in my mind and the 65-69 body style is my favorite.
  • 11
    Jose Rivera Ct February 18, 2015 at 16:21
    When I was in school in P.R. I had a friend that had a 65 and sometimes I borrowed for going to school and work and that's when I got in love with the Corvair. Then I bought a 62 in which I learned to do some body work, then a restored 62 in TX and a 64 in CT. It is pure joy to drive one and the sound if it's engine is unique! Everybody loves the classic car style! Never had an accident with either of them! Great support from local clubs! Most likely will get another one sometime soon....
  • 12
    don gordon garden grove February 18, 2015 at 16:39
    I have a 1966 corsa convertible with a 140 engine.
  • 13
    Bill Moon Ward, AR February 18, 2015 at 17:36
    I have a 1964 coupe, it has been in storage for some time , it runs and drives, needs some love and care, it for sale , cheep,
  • 14
    Ken Riverhead, NY February 18, 2015 at 17:39
    had 3 Corvairs in my time and an uncle had one...would take ANY of them now as a daily driver...okay, so they leaked a little oil, nothings perfect!
  • 15
    Bill Moon Ward AR. February 18, 2015 at 17:46
    I have a 1964 corvair coupe it is all original has been In storage, for some time, bought at a Estate sale, some one need this car.
  • 16
    Car Collector Chronicles http://www.scribd.com/D_Yaros February 18, 2015 at 17:51
    Had the pleasure of owning a '63 Monza convert. Fun to drive!
  • 17
    Shelby Bill N. Calif. February 18, 2015 at 18:46
    Corvairs increasing in value don't "give it the last laugh", unless monetary value is all you classic car insurance jocks care about (more profit by insuring higher value cars). The people who got the last laugh were the ones who didn't die in Corvairs, or all the other deadly cars built by Detroit, as my sister did long ago. I once rode in a friend's Corvair from Camp Pendleton to San Diego, while on weekend leave, and it was the most unstable, wandering vehicle at freeway speeds that I've ever ridden in! Unstable, dangerous, or not, that fugly, glorified Beetle would have died a quick death anyhow. I know that it's cool for you car jock journalists to make fun of the Nader's of the world nowadays, but would any of you clowns buy a new car now without the myriad of safety devices in them for your teenage daughter to drive daily? Nader simply started the movement that eventually got Congress off their Detroit-owned butts to build some safety into their vehicles.
  • 18
    Glenn Gibsonville, NC February 18, 2015 at 20:35
    In 1963 I sold my 1960 Chevy Impala convertible bought a new 1963 Corvair because I was going to college and the Corvair was better on gas. I drove it for those 4 years and upon graduating in 1967 a friend and I went to California. We stayed for the summer and then came back home. I never had one minutes trouble with it. I sold it and bought a 1968 Camaro Rally Sport. I wish I still had both cars.
  • 19
    Kent Panama City Beach, FL February 18, 2015 at 21:17
    I've owned three and the issue they reported was that the car over steered because the engine was in the rear and thus the center of gravity was further back than a front engine car. So, if you were in a sharp turn and didn't compensate for the overseer and if the rear outside tire hit a curb or something while sliding the suspension on that side would tuck under and the car could roll. That is why in 1964 they added the single leaf spring from the left rear A-frame to the right A-frame suspension member.
  • 20
    John39 Missouri February 18, 2015 at 21:43
    So glad to read this, have a 65 convertible in the barn all covered with dust
  • 21
    Newtynewt 3rd rock from the Sun February 18, 2015 at 22:41
    On January 13, 1962 Ernie Kovacs, (The famous Comedian), died in a crash while driving his Corvair. My brother had a 64 hardtop that would fill the car with oil fumes when running the heater. It would also flip the belt and overheat. It had the typical rust, was his first car & last Corvair. Glad others had better experiences with these cars, but I was happy for him when he got rid of it.
  • 22
    Lawrence Jahn Hoopeston, IL 69=094 February 18, 2015 at 23:07
    I ordered my 63 Corvair Spyder convertible 52years ago. I drove it 14 years and stored it in a barn for 25. It is now a restored concours car that I drive about 3,000 miles per year for the last 9 years. I LOVE IT!
  • 23
    Syd. Merron Tacoma wa February 19, 2015 at 14:58
    Michael, I had a '65 Monza and loved it. Blew a hole in a piston one time hurrying up Hurricane Ridge. Could you possibly send me a picture of your car, including the engine bay. Regards Syd.
  • 24
    -Nate Sunny So. Cal. February 19, 2015 at 15:22
    They were good little cars ~ I bought a 1961 base model 700 Coupe from the original owner for 0.10 (that's CENTS) on the pound , the only option it had was the two speed Powerglide automatic tranny . A great little car , I miss it . -Nate
  • 25
    Al Smith Great Falls MT February 19, 2015 at 16:07
    I never drove a car I enjoyed more. Owned and drove lots of VW Bugs too, but my Corvair was always my favorite of my little cars. I thought way back then Raplh Nadar was a big jerk and my opinion has not changed over the past 50 years.
  • 26
    Bob Long Lake City, FL February 19, 2015 at 18:18
    In 1970 I was a recently discharged married Army vet and needed to go to New Jersey from Florida for a college interview. My wife drove me over to US 301 and I stuck out my thumb headed for Trenton. Within a minute or two a Corvair pulled over to offer me a ride. It was an early model with terrible paint. Sitting in the passenger seat I could look just over the top of the door and see the sky. Not being the picky sort I jumped in and off we went. It turned out the driver was a horse trainer going to his next job in New Jersey. Someone had given him the car that had been sitting for years. It didn't have a title but he somehow finagled an Alabama tag and it was now his car. Incredibly, that little Corvair purred all the way to exit 7 of the Jersey Turnpike at Bordentown. It never missed a beat and didn't use any oil. I was impressed. I was accepted to college and hitched back to Florida to get the family. On the way back one ride was a 1960 Falcon that had sold originally from a south Florida dealer. It didn't even have a heater, which was an option--but that is another story. Over the next couple of years I had two 1963 4-speed Corvair Monzas with dual carbs and bucket seats. I ran those cars hard, throttle wide open and shifting up and down without lifting the gas pedal. I pushed it very hard through the Appalachian foothill curves with full knowledge of Nader's assassination attempt. Those cars were great. They never broke down or scared me. If I remember right, front tire pressures were 18 psi. I never saw one with power steering but the steering was light and nimble. My only complaint was the cabin heaters used hot air captured from the engine exterior by baffles. Oil seepage from the hot engine created an annoying aroma and and left a film on the inner glass. By the way, the Corvair engine is a popular power plant for a homebuilt airplane called the Pietenpol AirCamper. It was designed in the late 1920's by Bernard Pietenpol of Cherry Grove, Minnesota to fly with a Model A engine. Bernie had a side-loading Corvair cab-forward pickup truck for his TV repair business and must have been enamored with the engine. In the early 80's he designed a Corvair modification for the plane and built a few himself. Web search for images of NX899H to see "The Last Original", his last plane.
  • 27
    Bob Thompson Tualatin, Oregon February 19, 2015 at 19:55
    I drove a 63 Syder convertible for five years (150,000 mi.), with one engine rebuild. I outran a 66 Mustang (he never caught up to me) going down I-5 one sunny day. The car was great in the snow and fun to drive.
  • 28
    steve Dunn mason city ia. February 19, 2015 at 19:56
    Excellent artical , my wife and own a 68 monza convertable, it is all original and is a very fun car. Yes ive heard all the " junk " comments at car shows, but all the beautiful car comments drown that out. . It is our first collector car, though i thought id never consider one im glad we did.
  • 29
    Dave Gestler Pittsburgh, PA February 19, 2015 at 20:48
    I am so glad to finally read a Nader article that points out that the later,65 thru 69 models, had a true Corvette-style independent rear suspension. Not that the earlier models couldn't be made to handle. My 61 coupe did very well in autocross competition with a few modifications. Two coils on each rear spring were clamped together to achieve lots of negative camber. The power was increased with a 4 carb kit, improved ignition and a raucous trombone-style dual exhaust. Quick shift and steering kits and the then new Dunlap radial tires completed the package. My greatest satisfaction came with beating the muscle cars like the Pontiac GTO, which left lots of rubber on the course but too many seconds on the clock. I went on to own a 65 turbo convertible and a 69 coupe, but the 61 was the most fun.
  • 30
    Marjie Shriver North Ft. Myers, Florida February 19, 2015 at 08:54
    My first car was a 1964 Corvair Turbo Spyder Convertible. I now own a 1963 Turbo Spyder Convertible, with 59K original miles. All number match. I am the 3rd owner. I am coming up on retirement age and would like to pass it on to someone who would truly appreciate it. It is Marine Aqua with a white top and turquoise interior, is in extremely good condition. Has taken a 1st, 2nd and 3rd in shows. Anyone interested? Email me at floridamojo@gmail.com.
  • 31
    Robert Henrich Morristown TN February 19, 2015 at 08:56
    Most people think that "Unsafe at any Speed" is exclusive to the Corvair, this is totally untrue. Only the first chapter is devoted to the Corvair while the rest of the book is a general attack on the entire automobile industry and the Federal Highway Safety Commission. Nader has since come out and stated that there was nothing wrong with the Corvair and that he only included it in the book since it was "New" and "different" so that he could make a name for himself. The book is poorly written and reads like it was penned by a third grader not a Harvard educated lawyer. I do own a 66 Corsa Convertible and it handles extremely well with its fully independent suspension, just remember to keep the tires inflated properly. 32 psi rear and 20 psi front.
  • 32
    Troy Virginia, USA February 19, 2015 at 09:00
    I own a 1960 500 model 2-door coupe,and it is one of the most fun cars to drive. Of course, like any car, you need to know its limits--cornering ability, etc. I am happy to see Nader being proved wrong over and over again!
  • 33
    Troy Virginia, USA February 19, 2015 at 09:01
    I own a 1960 500 model 2-door coupe,and it is one of the most fun cars to drive. Of course, like any car, you need to know its limits--cornering ability, etc. I am happy to see Nader being proved wrong over and over again!
  • 34
    Allan V. Lacki United States February 19, 2015 at 09:27
    We have fun with our Corvairs. It's another good reason why Corvair values are going up. The Corvair hobby is supported across the country by the Corvair Society of America and its local chapters, which are located in every state of the Union. In addition, there are dozens of Corvair-related websites chock full of information for maintaining, repairing, and restoring Corvairs. Parts, including NOS, repro, and used, are available through Clark's Corvair Parts of Massachusetts and many other vendors. And the hot rod and track guys haven't been forgotten, either.
  • 35
    Chris Campbel Traverse City, MI February 19, 2015 at 21:49
  • 36
    Don Phoenix, AZ February 19, 2015 at 22:14
    Purchased a brand new 1962 Corvair Monza upon discharge from the US Army Reserves. Good traction in the snow, but was disappointed in the chronic oil leak from the valve cover gaskets. Could never get that resolved.
  • 37
    Dave Harvard, MA February 19, 2015 at 10:20
    In 1962 driving my '62 Corvair I did my best time from Belmont, MA to Seaford, LI, NY - 212 miles in 3 hours and 45 minutes... and that includes waiting to pay tolls all through Connecticut and the Triborough bridge. And I have also made the trip in my '68 Road Runner and '70 Malibu but never was able to equal the Corvair's time.
  • 38
    Bob Ross Little Rock, AR February 19, 2015 at 10:28
    I had a 62 Corvair Monza in 1962 and 63. My previous car was a 61 VW. The Monza was a much better handling car than the bug. Nader didn't kill the Corvair. Chevy dealers did that. They didn't want to work on them. You had to find an independent garage. This killed the resale value. Maybe if it had a Chevy V-8 the dealers would have worked on them.
  • 39
    mike w. taunton, ma. February 19, 2015 at 10:40
    i have had all the classics, but the parts and repair prices are out of control. i got a 1965 corvair to play with, and it has made me so happy. what a fun car to drive, and to see how people react to the car, not knowing that its a chevy and the motor is in the trunk. its crazy how much you can love these little hot rods.and i think you will find as collecting classics go, these cars will just keep going up faster and faster...thanks
  • 40
    MYTFAST Maryland February 19, 2015 at 11:28
    Throwing tons of money at a corvair is like trying to upscale an outhouse! It is what it is... one step above a girlie VW
  • 41
    Marty Katz Las Vegas, Nv. February 19, 2015 at 11:32
    I've driven Corvairs since 1971 (18 years old) and still haven't got the "bug" out of my system. I currently have 2 Spyder convertibles and 1 Corsa convertible and have driven as far as L.A. to Maine, a total of 8600 miles, in 23 days. I'll never be without one. My 65 will outhandle my 06 Mustang G.T.
  • 42
    Chris Campbell Traverse City, MI February 19, 2015 at 00:55
    I spent a year as a VISTA volunteer in eastern Tennessee in 1970. A couple days after arriving I paid the vast sum of $150 for a 1962 Monza coupe with a 4-speed transmission. Somebody had removed the choke linkages so I had to hold the chokes closed with rubber bands to start the car until I could get new links from the local Chevy dealer. I drove the hell out of the little car for a year. It wasn't unsafe at any speed but I was. At the end of the year I was heading back to Michigan. My mother suggested that if I was bringing another car, maybe I should stay where I was. I sold the car to my replacement for the same price I'd paid for it. Occasionally I'll hear that air-cooled sound and it always makes me think of that sturdy little car.
  • 43
    55chevy57chevy Oregon February 20, 2015 at 14:07
    How Opportune! I just listed a 1961 Lakewood Wagon on E-Bay. I'm getting older so i'm getting rid of many of my "Project" cars but I have always Loved Corvairs. They are very light with respect to their front to rear weight distribution so they would steer well enough to allow the back end to come around if you overdrove it. I have owned many stock and modified and had fun with all... Yeah I think you should go buy one, why not a Crown or Kelmar Corv8.
  • 44
    duane Colorado February 20, 2015 at 19:17
    Some of the above negative comments clearly indicate a car poorly maintained, needing much work. Any car in bad shape isn't safe. I drive a 1960 Corvair, amazing, it's never flipped upside down all by itself!
  • 45
    Len Boschma Beloit, WI February 20, 2015 at 21:20
    My oldest sister had a 64 Corvair Sedan back in the mid 70's and was rear ended in some road construction along the interstate and was pushed into the bucket of a caterpillar. She and her 4 children survived, in fact none were even hurt! The Corvair was totaled of course. But she thought it was a pretty safe car at that time! I have a 1964 Monza 900 Convertible that a collector had restored to give to his daughter as a college graduation gift back in 1997. She wanted a convertible, but something "more modern" and a year later used the Corvair as a trade-in at a dealership I worked at. I bought it and still have it. I've driven it less than a 1,000 miles since then. I've "freshened" it up twice over the past 16 years. Maybe now with the values being higher again, it's time to part with. My better half would love it if I reduced the car collection down and not just have them all stored away anyway.
  • 46
    Phil Maryland February 20, 2015 at 22:13
    The first car I ever purchased was a 1964 Monza. Purchased it in 1968 while stationed in Hawaii. I washed and polished it until the white paint rubbed off. Had it repainted in a 1968 Chrysler blue. Had some problem w/ the engine and had it completely rebuilt by a place called the Corvair Clinic. The owner also built and raced Corvairs. Didn't know much about cars then and allowed the Clinic to make it fast. And fast it was. It blew away many a Porches. In 1971 shipped it home to the DC area where I was to attend college. Cruised it around the local car hangouts and it was a real head turner. As an Hawaiian car it did not come with a heater, which limited my ability to drive it in the winter. It was stolen within a few months after returning home. Months later recovered it at an impound yard just before it was due to be auctioned off. All the chrome and shinny parts were stripped from the car and engine. Parked it in parents rear yard hopeful that I, as a broke college student, would save up enough money to fix it. To add to the cost someone busted the windshield. Zoning requirements forced the removal of the car from the property. Man, to this day, I still miss that car. Current toy is a rare 1991 BMW 850 but I still love that Corvair more.
  • 47
    Steve Arizona February 20, 2015 at 11:15
    I had a 65 Corvair that I totally used up after a couple hundred thousand miles. I loved it! It did leak a little oil out of the rocker arm covers. I thought it beat the socks off of a VW beetle. I actually had a chance to boo Ralph Nader re the Corvair when he was on the Tonight Show back in the Johnny Carson days. He took it well.
  • 48
    Jinx Fogle California February 20, 2015 at 12:10
    I drive a 1966 Monza convertible. It's a 140 hp 4 speed. Red,red interior and a white top. I use it as my daily driver and don't have any problems. I have add electronic ignition, a 4 barrel carb and a modern radio. I replaced the springs with stiffer ones, front wheel disk brakes and quick steering. I have a short shifter kit, tubro mufflers. The interior is original as is the paint and carpet, only the top has been replaced. I am building a hot motor but will keep the original. I have two other cars, but I prefer the Corvair. The only problem is leaving the car for extended periods because they are easy to steal. Long live the Corvair!!!
  • 49
    Ronnie South Central Okla. February 21, 2015 at 13:18
    Bill moon if you see this shoot me an email about the car are any body else that has one for sale. Haven't rode in one in years but could be a new project. rfralicks@yahoo.com
  • 50
    Ron Houston, TX February 21, 2015 at 14:20
    Bought my first one in 1971, a Corsa 140. Drove it 400 miles round trip each week at 80 mph (4000 rpm) in south Texas while in grad school. Never missed a beat. Drove it deep into Mexico and northern Minnesota as well as daily use before moving to Colorado where it made many ski trips, up Pikes Peak (over 14,000 feet) and daily use until I finally sold it in 1989 to move to Texas. In the meantime I had a '65 Corsa turbo convertible, a '67 140 4dr with factory air, a 140 4 speed Monza wagon, etc. The turbo would embarrass most other vehicles on the long mountain grades (remember it was the '70's and '80's). I installed a GM experimental engine (intended for introduction in the '67 model year) with GM 3 bbl Weber copies in the coupe and drove it several years that way. I autocrossed all these cars on parking lots and road courses and must say it's hard for me to see how anyone within a lick of sense could turn one over. Even saw a Greenbrier autocrossed once. As to Nader, his partly justified gripe was with the '60-'63 models, pre camber compensator and later independent rear suspension models. He didn't "kill" the Corvair, although to the uninformed he didn't do it any good. GM at least by 1966 saw that it would be very hard to reduce emissions, especially the NOx associated with high combustion temperatures of an air cooled engine. Also GM had already replaced the Corvair economy models with the Chevy II and the sporty models with the forthcoming Camaro.
  • 51
    Verneoz Concord, NC February 23, 2015 at 08:56
    Remember Nader is a radical liberal, and is anti-capitalist. To a liberal, everything is political. His true aim was to damage GM, and not just concern for the consumer. This guy is a nut case and should be warehoused in an asylum.
  • 52
    Jim Zeeland, Michigan February 23, 2015 at 09:44
    I am currently restoring a 65 Corsa Coupe (180 Turbo). And will be done this spring. Can't wait to drive it. How can you not love the Corvair it's so unique.
  • 53
    JB NEPA February 25, 2015 at 01:23
    Former GM executive (and father of the GTO) John DeLorean asserted in his book 'On a Clear Day You Can See General Motors' (1979) that Nader's criticisms were valid. Former Ford and Chrysler President Lee Iacocca (and father of the Mustang) said the Corvair was 'unsafe' and a 'terrible' car in his book, Iacocca: An Autobiography. Seems it's not only the 'lefties' who agree with Nader's well-researched assertion of the 1st generation of Corvair. DeLorean was a genius-level engineer, hence his ascension to top executive of Chevrolet in the late 60's, early 70's.
  • 54
    JB NEPA February 25, 2015 at 11:22
    Former GM executive (and father of the GTO) John DeLorean asserted in his book 'On a Clear Day You Can See General Motors' (1979) that Nader's criticisms were valid. Former Ford and Chrysler President Lee Iacocca (and father of the Mustang) said the Corvair was 'unsafe' and a 'terrible' car in his book, Iacocca: An Autobiography. Seems it's not only the 'lefties' who agree with Nader's well-researched assertion of the 1st generation of Corvair. DeLorean was a genius-level engineer, hence his ascension to top executive of Chevrolet in the late 60's, early 70's.
  • 55
    Roger McPherson, Ks March 20, 2015 at 22:48
    I have my eye on a nice '65 Monza convertible. After reading others comments, I will definitely buy it tomorrow. Back in the '70s and '80s I had a few used Corvairs as beaters to drive to work with in Colorado. Nothing like them in the snow....never missed work due to car problems. Fun to drive. Only one of five had a leaky oil problem.
  • 56
    Grant Mishler Roxboro, NC July 18, 2015 at 17:18
    Have several of these little gems
  • 57
    Syd. Merrron Tacoma, WA August 20, 2015 at 14:17
    I bought a second hand '65 Corvair Monza in Toronto in '68. It followed every crack in the road until I got rid of the original tires.My wife and I traveled across the country to Seattle towing a camper trailer with a baby, dog and a cat. No problems at all. About two years later we did the reverse trip with a second baby and the same dog and cat.. Again, no problems at all. My most memorable drive was flat out up Hurricane ridge in WA, during which I blew a hole in a piston! The car eventually gave out to Ohio salt roads and rusted away. The best thing about the car was it's simplicity to maintain, it's fun to drive and it's good look's.
  • 58
    Anthony Johnson Hamilton, Ohio September 21, 2015 at 13:37
    I agree. The Corvair is a great vehicle.
  • 59
    Roxanne Dallas metroplex October 12, 2015 at 02:36
    I was a 17- and 18-year old girl when I owned a white Corvair hardtop that I think was a '62. I paid $150.00 for it and drove it from 1968-1970 during my junior and senior years in high school. The Ralph Nader report was well-known at the time I had it, but my parents did not seem overly-concerned about my safety, which seems so weird to me now, since my mother WARNS EVERYBODY ABOUT EVERYTHING ALL THE TIME! It was explained to me that the reason the Corvair had the "front end problem" and the VW beetle did not, was because the design of the hood/trunk area on a Corvair was too light, too long, too low, and too flat - so it caught the wind. The beetle had a very short hood and tall curved design that did not lift off the ground (it did float if you tried to drive through high water, though.) In 1969, upon the General Motors announcement that they would no longer manufacture Corvairs, I was told by an old codger that my car had become a "museum piece" and I should never sell it. I told my parents that he told me to keep it and it would become very valuable. My parents said, "yeah, and where do you propose we keep this museum piece in the meantime?!" Anyway, my dad just told me that when the front wheels lifted off the ground, to take my foot off the gas, and the car would then lay back down on the ground. When it would rain hard and I was driving over 45 or 50 MPH (especially on the freeway) the car would hydroplane. Don't even get me started on driving this darling in high winds .All these things occurred frequently, and I never had a problem maintaining control of my little Corvair. None of this seemed strange or alarming to me at all at the time. It sure alarms me now... I put about a quart of oil in that car at least once a week, and I probably drove it only 50 per week. I had to keep it a quart low or it would throw all the excess oil out the rear of the car and cover the back of my bumper and white paint job (I often wonder how much oil got on the cars driving behind me.) I would have to douse a rag with gasoline and rub the oil off before I washed the car. As for the heater, I had to keep the window rolled down 2 or 3 inches or the interior windshield would fog up so horribly that I could not see anything to drive. I really hated to keep the window open in a driving rain! As for the distinctive sound of the engine, it was so loud and it backfired often. If I came home a little late for my curfew, I would cut the engine at the corner and coast in to park in front of my house, so my parents would not wake up.
  • 60
    Sam Lincoln, Nebraska October 20, 2015 at 20:17
    I just bough my second Corvair, a 1965 red Monza 110 convertible, from a Chevy dealer who took it in trade from its original owner. The great thing about Corvairs is that many dealers haven't caught on to the car's increasing popularity. The dealer wanted $5900, but we haggled it down to $4750. The car is perfect in every respect except for the original radio being removed (fortunately no holes were cut in the dash) and I feel like I got the deal of a lifetime!
  • 61
    Uncle Buster Northwest PA November 24, 2015 at 10:16
    I've had 3 Corvairs over the years. My favorite is a greenbriar that was set up for camping. 2 bucket seats and the rest was living quarters. Hot in the Summer, freezing cold in the Winter but over 10 years we traveled most of US, Canada and all the way down to Baja, Mexico twice. Sold it for more than I paid for it and wish I still had it today. Solid, dependable and great in the sand.
  • 62
    Sam Lincoln, Nebraska December 3, 2015 at 16:25
    A really nice 1965 Monza convertible showed up at a local Chevy dealer several months back. The dealership had it advertised at $5995 and showed me receipts for all the work they had to do to it which included new master and wheel cylinders and lines all the way around, a new fuel tank, a new fuel pump, and new tires. Their repairs cost almost $2000. I test drove the car and loved it, but I told the salesman there was no way I could afford it. He suggested I make the salesman an offer and I offered $4500. We agreed on $4750 and the Corvair is in my garage now waiting for better weather. It runs and drives great but the zipper on the rear window to the convertible top is off-track. I'm glad to know that this is a classic that dealers don't quite seem to know what to do with. In the end it worked out in my favor.
  • 63
    Mike Weller Dorset, U.K. December 9, 2015 at 07:24
    In May 1967 I emigrated to Canada and soon found out that I needed wheels! A friend had a 140hp 1st series Monza which ran like a dream on Michelin 'Xs'. When I spotted a 1965 Turbocharger coupe in the local GM dealers showroom it was more than I could resist. After an hour of the usual nonsense it was mine for $1800 Canadian, it was spotless and in my eyes beautiful. During the four years that I spent in and around Toronto, this was my sole auto. It only let me down once when the drivetrain seized while at speed on the 401. This cost me a week's wages to have repaired, which seemed reasonable at the time. The kick in the back at 3000 rpm is something that I remember to this day. Another friend used to let me borrow his 287 Mustang coupe which to me was heavy and cumbersome in comparison. The Corvair would run up to the 'ton' quite easily but this lost it's attraction after receiving a letter from the Chief Constable saying that any more speeding tickets would result in me losing my licence. A great American automobile in the best European tradition. It is good to see that they are still appreciated.
  • 64
    Karen Virginia March 18, 2016 at 02:16
    I had a Corvair as my first car in the early seventies. It was $300. At inspection they gave me some grief about the go cart sized steering wheel. I pulled into full service stations and said "Please fill the oil and check the gas." It got me to work for a few years and then resold for the same price. I had only two unsafe situations. Once a front wheel rolled off on a dirt road. The more major repair cost even less to fix. That was when the engine fell out. It was towed and screwed back in with the two screws or bolts that held it in, for a total of $15. I had a friend paint a horse on the door, making parting with it sad, but it was replaced with a LeMans convertible which got attention all the time at service stations and was later bought from me by a multi millionaire who wanted it to go golfing. After that all my cars have been practical. I would own a corvair again if they'd let me use a mini-steering wheel.
  • 65
    Robert Raymond Western Massachusetts July 28, 2016 at 23:04
    Nader was BOTH right and wrong! ANY car coming out of GM or Chrysler & Ford at that time was more dangerous to your health in a collision than it was to drive! The lack of crumple zones and no interior padding let alone seat belts being optional and the later introduced "shoulder" belt as well as other safety features(swing axels that could slide out) made the mere impact of a collision more collateral to the occupants than the car. But, regardless, any car being manufactured by Detroit could have been documented to this fault for many other reasons and that alone should have been any of Detroit's cars demise. But, the Corvair survived for 5 more years! And that in itself should have been it's redeeming salvation, but alas, it was too late..and GM did nothing to stop it as it was their "sacrificial lamb" so that all the other junk could continue on. Imagine what the Corvair would be today if it remained in production like the Corvette? Maybe a rear engined, turbo-charged 6 cylinder 300+HP air cooled MONSTER!!! HOLY SH-T! Oh, excuse me...A Porsche Carerra S ala Detroit! I LOVE my Spyder! 150HP with 4 drum brakes.

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