Chevrolet Corvair

The 1950s United States car market was famous for the standard large models which people adored. Since average buyers were still feeling the effects of the World War II, economy conditions were harsh and every dollar was under close care.

Thus attention steadily turned to more energy efficient and cheaper European manufacturer brands. In an attempt to stop Volkswagen, Renault and Fiat from conquering smaller cars market, almost all American car companies introduced a compact brand into their lineups.

From 1960 up to 1969 Chevrolet created a fantastic compact passenger car with a rear mounted engine. Corvair model was offered as a two door coupe, a four door sedan, four door station wagon and a convertible.

Chevrolet management designed Corvair to win American market share against the likes of Ford Falcon or Plymouth Valiant as well as ever growing European competition. Under the leadership of Chevrolet General Manager N. Cole this subtle and elegant model had no tailfins or a flashy chrome grille.

Unibody frame was quite innovative, allowing independent suspension at all four wheels. A whole string of small revolutionary patents was installed, earning Chevrolet Corvair the Motor Trend renowned title Car of the Year for 1960 and a place on Time magazine cover. Media attention proved quite useful, boosting sales over 200,000 units in the first year. During the nine year production run a total of 1,786,243 Corvair models were built and sold to eager buyers.

In the performance department, aluminum air-cooled 140 cu in horizontal six-cylinder engine guaranteed decent results, being capable of generating 80 horsepower. Swing axle rear suspension, patented by engineer Edmund Rumpler, was yet another innovation perfected for this model. The model offered various options such as Powerglide two speed automatic transmission, gasoline heater, AM tube radio and a rear folding seat.

A basic model was sold quite cheaply at a price just under $2,000. Public saw a good value for money, demanding more and more upgrades for Chevrolet Corvair. Chevrolet answered quickly, introducing Corvair Monza series early in 1960. Monza made immediate impact on showroom floors, with sales numbers skyrocketing at 12,000 units despite the late entry on the market.

Standard features included a more powerful engine that produced 95 horsepower and a synchronized four speed transmission. Chevrolet advertised Monza option as the poor man's Porsche, making it even more attractive for average American consumer. In 1962 Chevrolet planned to enhance the Monza sporty image by introducing 150 horsepower Spyder turbocharged engine, which made Corvair the first American automobile that came with a turbocharger as a factory option.

Turbocharged Corvair Monza Spyder became very popular among the sports car fans. Standard equipment consisted of a instrument cluster including a tachometer, cylinder head temperature and intake manifold pressure gauges, Spyder fender script and Turbo logo deck emblems. In fact, many entrepreneurs recognized the opportunity and offered numerous unofficial accessories for the Corvair, ranging from imitation front grilles to additional carburetors or superchargers.

Corvair certainly holds an important place in American automotive history, among the key Chevrolet models. With economic rear engine design, a lower silhouette, flat passenger compartment floor, Corvair offered quality road handling along with braking balance. Depending on age and condition, collectors can have this great piece of engineering for a price up to $15,000.

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