My 1964 Corvair Monza brings things full circle

Courtesy Valerie Liston

I was 11 years old when my parents purchased a new 1963 Corvair Monza convertible. For the next five years, my mother used it on a daily basis. She began driving me to junior high school, where she also worked. When I turned 16 and obtained a driver’s license, I began dropping her off for work and continuing on to the high school in it. In 1970, my parents gave me the car as a graduation present, and I spent many nights cruising with friends to local hangouts.

In July 1970, I reported for my first day of work with the federal government with my father beside me, as he worked at the same agency. By that time, my Corvair needed a new top and a new paint job, so I began saving money. A few months later, I had it painted metal flake blue at Earl Scheib for $99.99. My parents chipped in for a new black convertible top. I felt so cool!

In 1973, I reluctantly turned my Corvair over to another family member. My father and I went to the local Plymouth dealership and purchased two new Plymouths, one for each of us. Over the next 40 years, I owned several different cars and trucks, but I always thought of one day having another Corvair.

1964 Monza Corvair show winning car Valerie Liston
Courtesy Valerie Liston

After my retirement from federal service, I started attending car shows. In November 2011, as I was making my way through the flea market area of the Daytona Turkey Run in Florida, I spotted a maroon 1964 Corvair Monza convertible with 80,000 original miles. It was in excellent condition, but it needed some restoration. While I was negotiating the selling price, I learned it had come from the DeLand Naval Air Station Museum, where it had been donated for a fundraiser by a World War II veteran.

After I got it home, I contacted the museum and was able to learn the car’s complete history. Purchased new from Holler Chevrolet in DeLand, Florida, in 1964, the Corvair was used primarily for beach and amusement park trips by the first owner’s family. In the early 1990s, a member of the Antique Automobile Club of America bought it. He and his wife would cruise and attend various auto shows in central Florida. He donated the Corvair to the museum because he had trained on base as a fighter pilot during the war.

After giving the car a brake job and a tune-up, I began ordering parts to restore it. I started with the padded dash, then moved on to trim parts. My husband and I completely replaced the interior and carpet. We also replaced the windshield, the convertible top, and its hydraulic activators. Then we got to the transmission control cable, which also needed replacing. For the final adjustment, we had to open the transmission and utilize a special tool. We’d never seen the inside of a transmission. After the installation, we could not find that tool, so we thought we might have left it in the transmission. We opened it up again, but it was not there. We still have not located that tool …

That hasn’t stopped me from driving my Corvair around town and to local shows, where I have won numerous awards. Most recently, I received the highest award, the Mayor’s Choice Cup, at our town’s annual car show. Wherever I go, people share childhood Corvair memories, all of which make me a very proud owner.

1964 Monza Corvair car show winner valerie liston
Courtesy Valerie Liston

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    I owned several Corvairs in the late 60s and early 70s. My father and I turned one (1961) into a dune buggy but we left the automatic in it. It only took one trip to the dunes to realize it needed a 4-speed manual so I found another Corvair with the manual (1963). We drove it for several months then removed the manual and added it to the buggy. It worked a lot better then. A year or so later a co-worker was selling his 1964 (with a 4-speed) I was able to buy. I drove that for a while before selling it. I sure wish I had kept it.

    My 1st car was a 1964 Corvair Spyder. It felt like a high-performance car, with the turbocharger! I drove it for a year, but then “moved up” to a ’57 Chevy Nomad. I now drive a 1971 Olds 442 convertible, I’m now a drop-top guy.

    In the sixties, my parents owned a Corvair powered “Greenbriar” minivan. It was also rear engine, rear wheel drive with a floor mounted 3-speed manual. How I wish they had kept that!

    After High School, and before military service, ( mid-1960s ) my older brother worked as a mechanic at a gas station, and his car was an early Corvair…although I was still in Grade School, I fell in love with Corvair. To this day, 60 yrs. later, I STILL look for them, and is first on my ‘want list’ of dream cars…a second Gen Monza Spyder .

    I had the 1965 Corvair Monza 4 speed on the floor with a bench seat, HA!!! had the flat 6 and had 4 carb setup, not sure how it happen but I ran that car into the ground, and it never failed me once doing so. This was 1972 and Rock was the thing, I had a nice set-up with 2–12-inch woofers siting in the back where the baby seat was to sit back than, and man with the 6X9’s I rocked the school parking lot. brings back some very good memories. I hated I sold it to one of my best friends a year later and the first week he had it he totaled the car head on into a telephone pole doing he said about 60, it drove the front pointed bumper all the way back to the dash and be damn if he didn’t walked away from it unhurt, crazy! Miss my Monza!!!

    I loved my 1965 Monza convertible, 110 two carb with Paddle wheel drive. I had a choice of a 66 Corsa h/t but it had a pat brown smog pump and the Monza didn’t. Rebuilt engine with a cam and 12 plate oil cooler/big oil pan, no heating problems….wished I had put an Air dam on front…goosie over 70 mph. My 1966 Sport Coupe has 110 with 4 speed and posi. Aztec Bronze. A lot of upgrades, fun to drive with olds wheels (14’s) (48 state).

    Beautiful ride, Valerie — great story! I grandparents had a later Corvair — red — hardtop. I really liked that car. Thanks for sharing!

    My first real car was a ’64 Monza Sport Coupe. Had a 3 speed manual and became a true fun-mobile. Worked for an auto parts company so parts of any kind were very inexpensive. Had more fun than the law allowed, drove it UP a ski slope. Often thought about its replacement, and realized that will never exist. Great memories.

    I owned a 62 Coupe with a 3spd – loved that little car. My next one was a 65 4 door automatic. My dad & I also picked up a 1960 that had been in storage for years – it had the gas heater which was pretty neat.

    Thanks to Valerie for posting that story and pics of her beautiful car. I recently acquired a 64 Monza convertible, and was fortunate to have had the previous owner do a great job of restoration. My first car was a 65 Corsa 3-speed hardtop with the factory turbo.

    My first car was a 59 Belvedere. I traded it for a brand new 64 Chevy Monza Maroon and black top convertible. I was a sophomore in College and I thought I was hot stuff. I loved that car.

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