I remember, it was the summer of '64 in Southern California when a recent high school graduate talked his father into lending him his brand new two door Corvair Monza Spyder for the evening. The young man immediately drove around to his friends to show off the new car and take them on a ride. He soon had five passengers, four crammed in the back seat including two over six foot. Someone mentioned a beach party going on a few miles down the road and everyone agreed it was a great idea. The beach party was a wild and crazy affair. After a few hours and more than a few beers the young men decided to go get something to eat. As all but one of them including the son of the owner had been imbibing and were more than slightly inebriated the tea tottaler was elected as the designated driver.
Upon arriving at a restaurant parking lot our fine fellows were confronted by a group of drunken toughs who wanted to brawl. The sober driver told the others to get back in the car as they were in no condition to fight and he would be unable to handle them alone. Vociferous manifestos were hurled back and forth as the Spyder sped from the parking lot hotly persued by the toughs in a '49 Olds 88.
To say the Corvair was overmatched by the Olds is a given, the Spyder handled better on the curvy road they found themselves on and it held it's own, but the road intersected a freeway and it was necessary to enter onto it. The ground gained by the Spyder was soon diminished and as an off ramp appeared it was quickly taken. Zooming up the off ramp the Monza approached the intersection, as traffic was nonexistent (it was early AM). The driver was urged to ignore the stop sign and took a 90 degree right at about 50 mph. The Spyder skidded and raised its right two wheels off the ground, then the left rear independent suspension folded under, slamming the car onto it's left side sliding then rolling on to it's top and completed the roll back onto it's wheels. The windshield and rear window popped out and the car came to a stop. For a second the silence was deafening, and then someone said, " I smell gas!" In less time than it takes to tell it, there were six guy standing outside the car each having exited out the passengers door, as the driver side would not open. The guys in the Olds, stopped took one look and drove off in the opposite direction. Amazingly no one had a cut or a bruise, this was attributed to being packed in so tightly as no seat belts were in use.
I was the designated driver that night and I felt we all cheated death. The one annoying thing about that car that night was that the fan belt kept coming off and we were constantly having to stop and put it back on when the generator light came on. What a pain that was! As cute as that car maybe, I have to agree with Ralph Nader on the safety issues of the Corvair.