John Z 1960 Chevrolet Corvair 700 4dr Sedan

Super salesman

On October 2, 1959, this teenager got a brand new Corvair to drive to high school. This was introduction day for the 1960 Corvairs, and my father, a GM executive who was instrumental in developing the techniques for producing the Corvair's aluminum engine, made sure I had one to drive on that first day. Mine was a "loaded" model: a four-door sedan Corvair 700 with automatic transmission, radio, backup lights, and whitewalls. I was delighted to have the newest and most different car then available. After all, what teenager doesn't want to be "different" as he makes sure he fits in well with all his fellow teenagers.

What makes this interesting is the car that I gave up when the Corvair came along. I had been driving a 1958 Pontiac Bonneville convertible, with its 300 hp tri-power engine, dual exhausts, and a special "COPO" paint job. Yes, I was thrilled to give up a 300-hp convertible for an 80-hp Corvair four-door sedan.

My father was an engineer, and I never thought of him as much of a salesman. But as I think back, anybody who can convince a teenager that a compact four-door sedan is more desirable than a high-performance convertible must be a super salesman.

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